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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars H.G. Wells at his very best
I have read many of H.G. Wells' works, including many of his short stories, all of which were a joy to read, but this was by far the most enjoyable. It is thrilling in its intense sense of mystery and malignity that dominates the feel of the narrative from start to finish. There is a genuine sense of loathing for some of the creatures/characters that Wells presents...
Published on 16 Jan. 2006 by James Chester

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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Written well in concise chapters this easily readable tale of a beastly island is unsettling and ghastly.
Published 5 months ago by Annie


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars H.G. Wells at his very best, 16 Jan. 2006
This review is from: The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I have read many of H.G. Wells' works, including many of his short stories, all of which were a joy to read, but this was by far the most enjoyable. It is thrilling in its intense sense of mystery and malignity that dominates the feel of the narrative from start to finish. There is a genuine sense of loathing for some of the creatures/characters that Wells presents and the excitement kept me gripped so that I could hardly put it down. I don't want to say too much in case I give any of the plot away but it is certainly in the top-ten of my favourite books!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The aimless torture in creation ...", 8 Jun. 2010
This review is from: The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I wish some of Wells' books had never been filmed and this is the chief of them - a dazzling grim satire on Victorian complacency about the beast within. The story is straightforward - Edward Prendick, Victorian gentleman-at-large, is rescued from shipwreck and taken to an island where animals are painfully rendered into the shapes of human beings by one of English literature's few genuinely mad scientists. Inevitably, the remade animals are pitiful things, neither fully beast nor fully human, and gradually their resentment of their "maker" builds.
Contrary to popular belief, Doctor Moreau is not a genetic engineer - instead, he's a refugee vivisectionist who creates parodies of people using a mixture of pain, surgery and conditioning. In one of those horrible cases where Wells inadvertently made a successful prophecy when he would have been luckier to have been wrong, Moreau seems a dreadful emblem of the worst of the 20th century - an utterly amoral experimentalist one part Mengele to one part Pavlov.
Amongst the details that make the book unforgettable is the clinical spirit in which Moreau explains and 'justifies' his experiments to Prendick - making Moreau a satire on Victorian ideas of evolution as a pro-human force that steadily (if slowly) makes the better out of the worse. Having learned his Darwin from no less a Darwinian than Thomas Huxley, Wells knew better than to equate evolution with progress, and saw more clearly than many of his contemporaries that evolution has no especial care for humanity as such but will reshape any form that comes along. Wells called the book "an exercise in youthful blasphemy" and said it was written in one of his moods when "the universe projects itself towards me in a hideous grimace". Just as in Swift, the strange island reflects the greater world in miniature. While Prendick escapes from the island physically, its taint stays with him and the closing description of his living exiled from humanity, even while in its midst, offers a horribly convincing picture of depression and alienation.
This Penguin edition has a useful introduction from the great Margaret Atwood, herself no stranger to well-wrought scientific nightmares.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More horror than science fiction, 12 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I first read this as an eleven-year-old and found it terrifying. Many years later I have re-read it and it's still disturbing. This is so unlike Wells' usual science fiction. It is not just horrifying, it is intensely thought-provoking in ways that I'm sure passed me by as a youngster.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be afraid: genetic engineering can do better, 30 May 2011
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This review is from: The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
A sinister book that is absolutely true still today. At the end of the 19th century surgical attempts and experiments permitted some animals to be transformed into evolved forms of their species close to human beings. He is an animalistic Frankenstein, this Doctor Moreau.

These evolved animals could speak which is impossible since they could not have the phonatory, articulatory and brain capabilities necessary for language. But the idea enables the first level of the fable. And it is a fable at the time that could become a nightmare. Moreau's attempts were only surgical before anesthetics and antibiotics. It means it was highly improbable.

The next stage is that Dr Moreau, through some kind of hypnosis impresses into their minds a "religion" of sorts in two directions: first fear, the fear to go back to the house of pains, that is to say Moreau's own laboratory, to suffer some more in the hands of Moreau who is seen as the master, the only authority, a god of sorts in other words. The second trend is the learning by heart and the ceaselessly repeating of a catechism that implies they respect some rules because they are human. In fact it is the reverse of what they say in this catechism: by repeating these rules they can pretend they are human.

But strangely enough the ruin of this world will come from the very assistant of Dr Moreau. He will bring from his last voyage to Africa some rabbits he will free in the jungle and a man that had been picked up in the middle of the ocean more than half dead. The rabbits will multiply for sure but some of the monstrosities created by Moreau from carnivores will get a taste of that blood and that is one of the rules in the catechism that is thus broken. Once this rule is broken, why not the others, and once this rule is broken by one creature why not by other creatures. This creates a rebellion among the more or less controlled "society" of these monstrosities and against the humans who dominate them with whips, guns and fear.

This will be amplified by the escape of the latest animal, a leopard, from the laboratory before the transformation is complete. The hunt for that imperfect animal leads to the death of Dr Moreau and then the complete crumbling of the island.

The assistant becomes crazy and spreads alcohol among the beasts, burns the two boats that could provide an escape and some of the carnivores can attack and kill the assistant.

Pendrick, the rescued guest saved from a shipwreck, has only one solution: to escape after killing the carnivore that is most menacing. But to escape he needs a boat of some kind. His building a raft is not that successful but a current brings a small boat with two dead people aboard. He is able to recuperate the boat and escape. Within three days he is picked up by a ship.

But back with humans he finds he has developed a taste for solitude, mistrust for humans and that no one wants to believe him, not even the slightest allusions about this island.

But this book is still valid for us because with our surgical science and technology, with our anesthetics and our genetic engineering we can do exactly what Dr Moreau tried to do, but without the pain and without the drawbacks. We easily can clone for instance or graft one animal element onto the genes of a human being, or vice versa and develop animals with human physiological and physical characteristics, and vice versa, humans with animal characteristics.

In fact we can wonder at times if our neighbors are not genetically modified organisms when we see how animal-like their behavior may be when they bark or ululate or go for a taste of blood on an accident scene or on a crime scene.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, disturbing and poignant, 10 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
in a similar vein to Frankenstein, despite being what could be described at best as a short story.

The core of the tale is concerned with Dr Moreau who carries out his scientific endeavours on an isolated island with such obsession, as with Frankenstein, that he does not question what he is doing and if he should be doing it in the first place, leading to the creation of the Beast people. Prendick, the main character, is the narrator shipwrecked on the island and it is his supposed record of the time he spends there that allows the story to be told.

The portrayal of these humanised animals is sad, pitiful and discomforting, as is the attitude of the main character, Moreau and his assistant to them and leading to the question of who possesses the least humanity. The same feelings that I felt reading of the monster's plight are not much different to those when reading about the wretched Beast people, especially being aware that there are animals in labs across the world suffering in similar ways.

I have not seen any of the poorly thought of films, so did not have any preconceptions, but as with Frankenstein I do not see how it would be possible to convey what is written in a film as so much of the internal character narrative would be lost. The only way to experience either of these books can only be in print as they were written at that point in history.

Unquestionably a classic and I would have no hesitation in placing this next to Frankenstein on my bookcase and is still a very relevant reminder and warning in our current scientific age that just because we can doesn't mean to say we should.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gets under your skin, 8 Oct. 2009
By 
P. Reavy (Belfast, N. Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
For the first couple of chapters, I wondered whether this would be worth my time, or would be just be of some kind of historical interest. Yes, it is of great historical interest, but it soon becomes a stimulating read. Plus, Dr Moreau got under my skin (luckily, not though actual vivisection) and left me feeling a little bit weirded out. So, a powerful book as well as a "classic novel", and still slightly shocking, for me at least.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Read Before You Die, 16 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I thought this was a brilliantly inventive book and allows us to think about what people are actually capable of when left to their own devices. The regression of the `creatures' on goes to highlight the inevitable hierarchy of the animal kingdom, but also shows that without human intervention we can all live harmoniously. It is only humans which cause the problems. Despite being over 100 years old, it is an easy to read, absorbing novel, which I devoured during a Sunday. I firmly believe that this is one book that everyone should read once before they die.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Degeneration, 28 Oct. 2013
By 
R. Kiely "Or Am I?" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Great little piece, fin-de-siecle anxieties about degeneration, returns to animality, etc. Strangely calm, extended, I would almost say anti-climactic, but what is it if you never expeced a climax and things wind-down, or wind along at the same level, until the end? P.S. Nice introduction too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 3 Sept. 2012
This review is from: The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Wells is one of the towering greats of science fiction, and it's books like this which cement his reputation. In these days of gene therapy, genetically modified crops and cloning, a story like this is even more relevant and important than it was when written. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good example cross-genre fiction, 7 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
"The Island of Doctor Moreau" is another novel of one among the great fathers of science fiction, H.G. Wells. This book is one of his earlier examples not only of fiction (which is gathers a number close to fifty novels) but of all his published books, that amounts to more than a hundred published titles, not counting the short stories, in a period of about fifty-two years. Published in 1896, it handled issues much earlier than those issues entered the general circles of activism.

To keep it short, this book is Edward Prendick's narrative of his shipwreck and miraculous rescue (by a man called Montgomery), which leads him (somehow unwillingly), to an isolated island where only Montgomery, Doctor Moreau and oddly shaped folks live in.

Turns out that those folks aren't just strange, they're artificial, parts of a great experiment conducted by Doctor Moreau. Even though "The Island of Doctor Moreau" and his contents are pretty famous and ingrained in the science fiction culture, I won't say what is the product of those experiments because that would be ruining a surprise and there might a few of you out there that don't know.

That experiment, as you might calculate, will play a great part in the book and with Pendrick's insistence in finding out what is going will be the main theme of "The Island of Doctor Moreau".

The story is enjoyable, mixing elements of horror and science fiction. At first those mixed views put me off a little, but after digging a little more into the novel the opposition of the analytical point of view (science fiction) and emotional/first impressions point of view (horror) struck me as an odd, but interesting choice.

However, there are a few negative aspects to the novel, the underdevelopment of a few parts and the dullness associated to those same parts. I don't intend to disparage the novel, but there were a few sections of the novel where action thinned and in such a short book that always leaves some room to decorate, so to speak.

As for the characters, Moreau is a typical case of mad doctor (it's now, but not in late 1800's), who does possibly very dangerous experiments and doesn't care what anyone has to say about it. On the other hand, Pendrick is the shifting force of the entire story, put to test with extraordinary circunstances, who eventually changes many things in the island just to achieve is goal.

The issues handled in "The Island of Doctor Moreau" range from pain (or the imagination of pain), animal cruelty (maybe Wells didn't had that intention, but nowadays that can't be dismissed in such context) and how human can a being be if it was created by human hands.

Recommend to everyone, but specially to science fiction and fantasy readers.

Till next time,
M.I.T.H. (ManInsideTheHelm)
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The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics)
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