Today I am sharing my review of another one of H.G. Wells’ books, The Island of Dr. Moreau.
This one is one of the more disturbing books I have read.
Although the story is about the scientist, Dr. Moreau, the main character is actually the passenger of a sinking ship. The main character’s name is Prendick, and he is, after some time dying alone at sea on a raft, rescued by a passing ship with strange cargo. Namely, an overly drunk captain, a bunch of somewhat exotic animals, an odd “doctor” named Montgomery, and a strange “devilish” humanoid creature.
The strange other passengers are headed to an island that is not, quite, on any map. This is the island to which the creatures are going, and it is “the island of Dr. Moreau”.
Dr. Moreau is a scientist who was thrown out of London’s scientist clique because of his vivisection of animals. (In the book you learn that “vivisection” is taking pieces of other creatures and surgically fusing them into or onto another creature. Dr. Moreau cites the example of drawing and receiving blood in order to heal people.) Dr. Moreau, of course, takes his vivisected creatures to an uninhabited island, where he sets up his own “laboratory”, which is somewhat primitive due to his limited resources. It is here that he takes vivisection to the extreme, seeking to splice pieces of animals together in order to make his own intelligent “humans”.
I’m sure you’ve realized by now what disturbed me about this book.
Dr. Moreau inhumanely tortures creatures to turn them into his own version of humans, constantly seeking a way to make the animals more and more intelligent. He partially succeeds with some creatures, only keeping them in check by instituting his own religion on the island (he makes them believe he is the lawgiver, the lifegiver, and the judge who will execute severe punishment if they do not obey). He doesn’t even have pity for the animals or guilt for what he has done, doing it all in the name of “science”. But what is the purpose of his vivisection to create “humans”? Prendick never finds out.
There are, of course, a few things you can draw from this book. One is the correlation between Dr. Moreau’s vivisection and today’s GMOs, and the question as to how far one should meddle in genetics.
So there is a good side to his books–the comparisons he makes (rather like Jonathan Swift) by taking certain ideas to their extremes, to help you think about the subject.
But I think that, and how he manages to keep the book’s main character not who or what the story is actually about, are the only two things that keep this book at a passing grade of 3 out of 5 stars.
I personally did not enjoy a story this disturbing; I only liked the discussion that would arise from this book, and his skill in writing POVs (Points-of-View). So I would only really recommend this book for a study on writing POVs and for the discussion of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).
However, this book was pretty clean; I only recall a few swear words, and no sexual content. The violence/gore wasn’t overly detailed, but I would not recommend this for young readers.
So, what did you think? Have you read The Island of Dr. Moreau before? Do you know a comparable book/author? What kinds of books do you like to read? What do you think about GMOs and how far/whether they should be used?
Let me know in the comments below, and have a great week!