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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics)
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2003
I never expected to enjoy this book so much. It didn't really seem like something I would enjoy. I admit that I'm not the biggest fan when it comes to science fiction. I ended up reading "The Island of Dr. Moreau" by H.G. Wells for a fiction class in college. The results were unbelievable, as I ended up really loving it.
Edward Prendick is stranded on an island with a mad scientist, Dr. Moreau, and his assistant, Montgomery, who are performing horrendous and terrible experiments that lead to beast-like creatures that talk and behave like men. As the days go by, Prendick sees horrifying things that he will never be able to forget. This is Edward Prendick's story, and the account that you are about to witness is chilling and unforgettable.
I really enjoyed this novel. I enjoyed it because it proves to be a book with different layers and hidden meanings. Sure, on the surface it appears as your everyday science fiction novel filled with thrills and excitement. However, there's a deeper meaning behind it all. What is that? Well, I'm not about to divulge that to you! That's part of the fun in reading this. The great thing about this story is that you can still enjoy it even if you don't feel like figuring out Wells' hidden meaning behind it all. It appeals to advanced readers and to those who are not as advanced. There's a little something for everyone.
"The Island of Dr. Moreau" is a very engaging and well-written classic. Wells doesn't hold back when it comes to dishing out deep symbolisym and exciting action. If you're looking for an interesting read, I highly recommend that you check it out. A great story that can be read over and over again.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2006
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2003
When Edward Prendick, an unfortunate shipwreck survivor, is plucked out of the ocean by the strange Dr. Montgomery, little does he know that he has dropped out of the frying pan and into the fire. When they arrive at their destination, Prendick finds that the whole island is filled with unnatural seeming people, and the least unnatural, but the most frightening is the lord and master of the island Dr. Moreau. There is a secret to this island, something terrifying, and Prendick is about to find out what it is, whether he wants to or not.
This book is one of the crowning examples of nineteenth century fantastic fiction. But, it is not merely an early science fiction story. Mr. Wells wrote this story as something of a lesson about scientists playing God, and creating monstrosities (not unlike Mary Shelley's Frankenstein). This book is an exciting adventure story, with a fascinating lesson. Even though the book was written in 1896, it is still an exciting read, one that I highly recommend to you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2003
Everybody knows how Wells' books were used as a vehicle for his political and social beliefs and/or manifestos. If, however, you choose to read them on base value and avoid getting too deep in Wells' metaphors and messages, his books can take on a whole new light.
This book (Dr. Moreau) is very moody and dark and probes deep into your conscience and thoughts. I dreamt about the characters and the island so many nights after reading the book. The doctor's ideas on surgery are frightful and disturbing as are the latter chapters on the beast-men's reversions back to animals.
You will not be able to put the book down, and nor should you attempt to.
Amazon wouldn't let me put 6 out of 5 for this book. I'm sure you get the idea!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 1999
This is his darkest story,one of animal experimentation and the futility of man's struggle against nature and darwinism. H.G.Wells is a master of science Fiction. Our hero is shipwrecked on an island with the infamous Dr Moreau and the the story becomes darker and more terrifying, the feelings of claustrophobia increase with each paragraph. Read this book as it is a masterpiece and should be read by every science student. But whatever you do, do not watch the film, with Brando and Kilmer as it is terrible and will ruin the book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book was selected for discussion in my book group and I am looking forward to our debate.

I am writing this review in advance of reading Margaret Atwood's comments and any other comments to give my initial personal comment on this book.

I know about the movies of this story and I also read a couple of Wells' books when I was at school. I have always wanted to read more but have never had the time - something else always seems more enticing. H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are both early exponents of science fiction and I suppose you might see them as impossibly dated. The characters in H.G. Wells all seem very English and Victorian and a bit "sepia-tinted".
However, science fiction does have a habit of making the reader think more about social, political and ethical issues by taking the reader to fantastical places (both actual and metaphorical).

Dr Moreau is a vivisectionist, i.e. someone who experiments on animals. While film makers like to think he is a kind of Frankenstein creating terrifying monsters that will go out of control or a made scientist intent of world domination, the book portrays him merely as a scientist in a disinterested search for the possibilities of making animals into human beings. The reason for such a weird pursuit is not really explained and maybe the science described is wrong, but what is interesting even for today's readership is that genetic modification and cloning both of plant and animal tissue is ongoing scientific activity. There are plenty of ethical issues surrounding this.

What is interesting here is the idea that while Dr Moreau can make animals stand up, develop speech and articulate rules and ideas, he cannot remove their essential inner beast.

This is a short novel, a novella really, in which a man through his ship being wrecked ends up a guest on the island of Dr Moreau and his assistant Montgomery some where in the South Pacific. There he lives for a year with these misshapen people, initially terrified that were once human but were victims of Dr Moreau's experiments but then learning that they were in fact animals who had been made human.

It is an exciting but also deeply thought-provoking read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Quite literally once read this is a book that is never forgotten, and I must admit that I love to come back to this every now and then for a good and thoughtful read. Lest we forget, this book has been influential; after all we all know what is meant when the name Doctor Moreau is mentioned.

You could start a business up with publishing articles and books on just this one story, because although relatively short people have spent much time analysing this for deeper and more complex symbolism and meanings, and with our present world we can also see this as a warning of genetic engineering.

Narrated by Edward Prendick, this is his account of when he went missing for nearly a year. From being thought drowned and thus dead after the boat he was on sunk, just under a year later he is found floating on the ocean and rescued. The story that he leaves here is one of true horror, cruelty, unregulated science and madness. When Edward is saved from the sinking of the boat he was on little does he expect to end up on an island where madness reigns, for he is about to meet Doctor Moreau. Moreau was once an established scientist as such, but was driven from England due to his experimentation. Now this vivisectionist has an island, where he can carry on even more horrific experiments than he ever could where there were others about.

Although an allegory of Imperialism and racism written when Great Britain held a vast empire, there is a lot more to this story. On the surface this is an easy book to read, but this is clever, underlying this is a lot to contemplate as this is very philosophical. Taking in sadism and pain, what it actually means to be human, evolution, fear, compassion, etc. this has a lot to offer any reader.

As we read Edward’s account we become disgusted and horrified, but is it that far from what can and does happen? Could this be the future? Personally I think that this book would be a great choice for book groups as it holds so much in its pages that is worth discussing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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
on 10 August 2010
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2012
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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