Quick Review (read on for full review)
A thought-provoking read which poses questions still relevant today. 4 / 5
Summary (from Goodreads)
Ranked among the classic novels of the English language and the inspiration for several unforgettable movies, this early work of H. G. Wells was greeted in 1896 by howls of protest from reviewers, who found it horrifying and blasphemous. They wanted to know more about the wondrous possibilities of science shown in his first book, The Time Machine, not its potential for misuse and terror. In The Island of Dr. Moreau, a shipwrecked gentleman named Edward Prendick, stranded on a Pacific island lorded over by the notorious Dr. Moreau, confronts dark secrets, strange creatures, and a reason to run for his life.
While this riveting tale was intended to be a commentary on evolution, divine creation, and the tension between human nature and culture, modern readers familiar with genetic engineering will marvel at Wells’s prediction of the ethical issues raised by producing “smarter” human beings or bringing back extinct species. These levels of interpretation add a richness to Prendick’s adventures on Dr. Moreau’s island of lost souls without distracting from what is still a rip-roaring good read.
‘I hope, or I could not live.’
(From The Island of Dr Moreau by H. G. Wells, page 142)
As I read The Island of Dr Moreau, I couldn’t help but think H.G.Wells was ahead of his time, and I came away with the over-riding view that this story was a cautionary tale whose message is: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
This is not a story of science at its most exciting and awe-inspiring, but rather at its most strange and horrifying. And, the most terrifying aspect of the book is not the strange creatures of the island, but rather the scientist behind them, a man who thinks it is perfectly acceptable to do what he does. Yet, the fact that he has to do it on an island miles away from any other human being because he’s been shunned by his own community should have given him a clue as to why he shouldn’t be doing it.
The book poses some very interesting questions, ones which still are relevant today, regarding the ethics of science and the experimentation on other sentient beings. If I had known the story was going to deal with issues such as these, I’m not sure I would have chosen it, as prior to reading, all I knew about it was that it was a Victorian horror story. And, I’m not sure I would read this one again. That being said, I’m glad I read it the once. I can’t say I enjoyed it, but it was interesting and it did keep me gripped.
February’s Book for The Very Informal Classic Reads Book Club Challenge 2021 – Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon…