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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale in a million
Semi didn't know stepping on the plane might be the very last thing she did. But when their plane ends up in the ocean, and every one else is dead. Semi, Miranda and Arnie have to survive on their own. But how can they when they discover what is really hidden on the island.

A story which shows courage, companionship and bravery at its best. A read which will...
Published on 26 July 2003 by Kelly Blandford

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars I would create a large sign "Please keep off the Island"
When I picked this book up I had no idea that it was aimed at a teenage market. It was originally published in 2001 with this edition appearing 5 years later. From the perspective of engaging readers and keeping them on the edge of their seats it did not work well in this scientifically-uncontrolled study of a population of 1.

A group of 50 environmentalists,...
Published 15 months ago by Dr R


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale in a million, 26 July 2003
By 
This review is from: Dr Franklin's Island (Paperback)
Semi didn't know stepping on the plane might be the very last thing she did. But when their plane ends up in the ocean, and every one else is dead. Semi, Miranda and Arnie have to survive on their own. But how can they when they discover what is really hidden on the island.

A story which shows courage, companionship and bravery at its best. A read which will truley open your eyes to the world around. And lets you discover something you never thought you had.
one of the best survival/shipwreak tales I have ever read. Some of the best characters you'll ever know consist of this book. All you have to do is read it!!!!!!!!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science gone wrong, 26 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Dr Franklin's Island (Paperback)
Three teenagers, an aeroplane crash, survival on a tropical island and genetically modified by the evil Dr Franklin so they turn into ....'things'. No other way to describe it really. It's a really cool book, really exciting, couldn't put it down.
There's only one problem with it, You have to wait for ages before the big question is answered. The question: what happened to Arnie?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, 15 Oct 2005
By 
Ginger lady (Yeovil, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dr Franklin's Island (Paperback)
This is an amazing, sensitive and thought provoking book. It shows just how easy it is to appear strong but only those pure of heart survive. It shows all too well how easy it is to lose yourself and how only strength of will can make you come back from the brink of submission. A touching tale of friendship, trust and survival against the odds. Amazing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A walk on the wild side, 23 Sep 2002
This review is from: Dr. Franklin's Island (Library Binding)
'The Fear Man' revealed Ann Halam as an extraordinarily good writer possessed of a fine Gothic sentiment. Exploring the dark appeal of genetic engineering alongside its possible horrors, 'Dr Franklin's Island' is another very welcome curiosity. Underpinned by a plot which welds together elements of 'Robinson Crusoe' and 'Frankenstein', it combines moments of pounding menace with a gripping psychological investigation into the boundaries of self and species-identity. What stood out for me were the richly sensual accounts of Semi and Miranda's transformations into fish and bird, brought to life through the author's remarkable intuitive ability to imagine her way into entirely foreign modes of existence. Though I'm sure the character names and plot details will soon become hazy in my mind, I hope the amazing image of Semi's last moonlit swim will always stick with me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dr Franklins Island by Ann Halam, 2 May 2003
This review is from: Dr Franklin's Island (Paperback)
This is a unique, yet unsual story of three teenagers thrown together in the worst of circumstances, as castaways on a remote desert island in the middle of nowhere. The island seems unihabited yet it conceals a terrifying secret. The two heroes of the book Semi and Miranda are captured by Dr Franklin and subjected to sickening genetic engineering and become bird and fish. Their friendship is tested and I had to keep turning the pages to find what happens next. The plot is gripping, if not suspensful and a thrilling rush of adrenaline as each page goes by. It is a sensual rich story, full of the horror, pshycological turmoil and ultimately deals with the very essence of human nature and being. A pleasurable read!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Modern take on The Island of Dr Moreau by H.G. Wells., 12 Mar 2006
This review is from: Dr Franklin's Island (Paperback)
Story line: without giving too much away the story is of three teenage airplane crash survivers who find themselves on an island of paradise. But, they soon find out that they are not the only ones on the island...
This is a very good book as throughout the reader is kept entertained with a mixture of action, humour and fear for the characters. (The way the book is written can be quite funny)
8/10
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4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 29 Sep 2003
This review is from: Dr. Franklin's Island (Hardcover)
This book has been the best book I have read in years.
A plane crash leaving 3 teenage survivors strand on a thought to be uninhabited island. What more could a teenager want!
The author has created a spellbinding book that once you start reading it , you will find it extremely hard to put it down again!
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2.0 out of 5 stars I would create a large sign "Please keep off the Island", 29 Aug 2013
By 
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dr Franklin's Island (Paperback)
When I picked this book up I had no idea that it was aimed at a teenage market. It was originally published in 2001 with this edition appearing 5 years later. From the perspective of engaging readers and keeping them on the edge of their seats it did not work well in this scientifically-uncontrolled study of a population of 1.

A group of 50 environmentalists, prizewinners and guides, are flying to Ecuador, their prize being to visit the Galapagos Islands and a rain forest. The travellers are all British Young Conservationists - which I repeatedly read as British Young Conservatives, which would be a very different kind of story. As it stands it borrows from H. G. Wells' "The Island of Doctor Moreau" and William Golding's "Lord of the Flies".

The plane ditches in the sea, explodes and only the three young people Miranda, Semi (Semirah) and Arnie, manage to reach a deserted shore. This excitement was presented in a very matter-of-fact manner and so an early opportunity to create tension was lost. Halam deals slightly better in describing their teenagers' initial hopes of being found on the island and their growing realisation that this is unlikely to happen.

One day Arnie disappears after building a rather unseaworthy raft. The two girls then find a way through the rocky cliffs and discover a series of buildings before they are captured. It transpires that this is the secret headquarters of a team of mad scientists, led by the eponymous mad Dr Franklin supported by the worried mad Dr Skinner, who are seeking to develop transgenic humans using modified animal, fish and bird DNA/genes, don't worry if you cannot follow the biotechnology. Miranda and Semi are the ideal ages to be used as human guinea pigs and treated with bird and fish DNA/gene extracts, respectively. Strangely, they do not protest very much.

The gene transplants are inserted, the experiment succeeds, as happens in science, and we end up with Miranda as a large eagle and Semi as a giant ray. Fortunately (for us), the evil scientists had inserted `chip implants', or maybe `chimp iplants', into their brains so that they could still communicate telepathically in animal form to one another and to readers by `flipping a few mental switches', don't worry too much about the neurobiochemistry involved.

Not that I cared, but Miranda was told by her anthropologist parents that Dr Franklin had been dismissed from a government research organisation for conducting mad (= unethical) experiments, but was wealthy enough to fund his own research and laboratories, and to continue his investigations, don't worry about the economics. None of the characters were remotely believable, all having previously been treated with cardboard implants. The evil Dr Franklin did, however, have a benevolent side since he repeatedly failed to do away with the arch-plotter, Dr Skinner.

I have no idea how teenagers will respond to this story but I found it very disappointing. The book might have touched on the creation of friendships, dealing with isolation, on ethics in science, on dealing with challenges that seem insuperable, on how each individual has innate strengths and weaknesses, so that, by creating and working together as a team of people with complementary skills, much more can be achieved than is possible if all work as individuals. The cover photograph, of a snake on a beach, is rather beautiful.

I hope that teenagers will read this book, but have no idea whatsoever what they will make of it. Maybe there will be a lot more genetic engineering going on behind the bicycle sheds after school?
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5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener, 7 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Dr Franklin's Island (Paperback)
As soon as I picked up the book, it was something that I couldn't put down. It was scientific, yet you could still feel for the characters as they turn into animals and their struggle to escape from the eerie island. An original concept and idea, and I really really loved it :)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Creepy, but the execution is somewhat lacking., 26 Feb 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Let's take a moment to talk briefly on the subject of the Mad Scientist archetype, and his blood brother, the Mad Surgeon. Both of these archetypes, when done well, scare the hell out of me. I don't know quite why, but I suspect it has something to do with seeing a horrible part of The Dentist when I was a wee little thing, and having nightmares for months afterwards.

But... this stereotype does have the potential to go horribly wrong. The surgeon guy in the first Human Centipede film? Sure, he was a sick bastard, but the performance always came across as really stilted and stupid to me, like some awkward, bumbling fool who is like:

"Hi, girls, I know you're lost in a foreign country and I live in the middle of nowhere and I'm giving off really creepy vibes but hey! Can I fix you a drink? You're drinking it? YAAAAY let me drag you down to the basement with the poor Japanese tourist who suffered the same fate as you! You're awake? Sehr gute! Now listen to my lecture about a tripartite digestive system! Oh no, one of you is escaping? You've dived into the pool to get away from me? Well, I'll press a button to close the cover and make you drown - oh dear, the electricity's gone out. Anyway, let's drag you back to the lab, ja? Muahahahaha."

Why do I bring this up? Because I was suckered in by the promise of an 'insane scientist' on the blurb of this book, and I didn't really get what I came for. He wasn't as much of an idiot as Doktor Dumbkopf in The Human Centipede, but he didn't live up to my expectations at all.

Dr. Franklin's Island is a story based on the H.G. Wells' sci-fi classic The Island of Doctor Moreau. I haven't read it yet so I can't make a fair comparison, but I do know it's about some crazy scientist who is working on combining new animal-human hybrids.

We start Dr. Franklin's with our heroine Semirah, also known as 'Semi' boarding a plane with a TV crew and several other young conservationists, en route to a jungle in South America. The plane crashes, and there are only three survivors who manage to make it to a nearby desert island: Semi, Miranda, and Arnie. Miranda's a sweet girl, and manages to make friends with Semi, whereas Arnie is a bit more aggressive and rather repulsive.

Arnie breaks away from the group, and Semi and Miranda see hide nor hair of him for ages, until they are arrested on the grounds of the island's secret laboratory. They wake up, get put into an office with the supposedly-insane Dr. Franklin, who announces that he wants their bodies for research into 'transgenics'. Basically, what happens when you implant foreign DNA into an animal. Will you turn into the animal, gain traits of the animal, or just reject it completely? So far, Dr. Franklin's test results have been somewhat unsuccessful - for example, he has capybaras with human feet and lips, pigs with hands, and a jungle cat who won't stop screaming. The human to animal transfusions come seemingly at random, so he wants to try animal to human transfusion.

Semi and Miranda are terrified at first, and to its credit, this scene does ooze quite a bit of creepiness. Especially when the good doctor happily announces that both girls are missing presumed dead, and this gives him every right to use them in his experiments. Escape is also not an option here. Even if the girls could make it out of the lab and to the nearest island, Dr. Franklin has enough influence with the locals to get the girls brought back posthaste, no questions asked.

As the story goes on, Miranda and Semi try to remain optimistic. After all, Dr. Franklin has promised them that they're furtheringSCIENCE, and they're going to go down in history as the first successful superhumans slash human transgenic experiments. I'd be way more freaked out than Miranda and Semi are, but hey. Let's just go with it.

So the girls are injected and operated on, and from then on it's a slow burn to see how the animal DNA is affecting their human make-up. Miranda starts losing her teeth, her jaw starts pointing forward as a beak grows in, and her breast bone starts increasing in size until it cuts out of her chest, and yeah, it's pretty chilling to read Semi being unable to hold her hand after however many days because 'she didn't have hands any more.'

The experiments turn out to be a success - Miranda turns into this giant eagle/human abomination with the ability to fly, and Semi winds up turning into a manta ray. A manta ray which we are reminded, several times, is the size of a 'squashed/flattened teenager', and is, of course, 'delta-shaped'. For those of you unfamiliar with the Greek alphabet, as a capital letter, Delta looks like an equilateral triangle, and in its lowercase form, it looks like a tadpole (or if I may be so uncouth, a sperm) with its tail up in the air. I'm guessing the author was going for the equilateral triangle bit, because that's what comes to my mind when I think of a manta ray.

As a manta ray, Semi is kept in an aquarium and fed plankton, and she tends to swim about aimlessly for most of the day. Miranda, on the other hand, keeps trying to fly out of the boundary. Then it's discovered that both girls have a chip implanted in their brains. By 'flipping some mental switches'(another phrase this book likes to use quite a bit), they can access a 'white place', where they have human avatars and can speak to each other without being recorded by the scientists. Okay... nice little plot device considering that they can't physically speak in their animal forms.

Then, Arnie comes into their white place. But OMG, hadn't he disappeared? All will come in due time, my friends.

Also around this time, Semi keeps getting this treatment capsule dropped into her tank, and it's supposed to be the antidote to turn her human again.

Miranda, however, begins losing her human mind to the animal she now is, and while she's gone, Semi discovers the side of her aquarium is loose. With the help of the sympathetic aide Dr. Skinner, she and Miranda manage to escape, along with Arnie, who it turns out has been turned into a snake and kept wired up in a room so he can monitor Semi and Miranda's telepathic conversations. Okay then!

Et voilà, Dr. Franklin dies, and they all manage to turn human again and get in touch with the British Embassy.

One of my main problems with this novel is that everything comes a bit too easy, writing-wise. They don't ever have any qualms about being unwilling test subjects, Miranda manages to work out the code on this door before they escape and tell Semi so that she (in her human form) can bust them all out... How did Miranda do that? She lined up the code by collecting a number of seed pods and twigs and leaves and leaving them out in the open for Semi to see. How Semi would remember such a specific amount so perfectly is never really explained. Dr. Franklin doesn't get much of a backstory, besides Miranda telling Semi that she remembers a conversation her anthropologist parents had a long time ago, in which they described him as the ultimate mad scientist, fired from a government research team, but wealthy enough to fund his own research and laboratories. Got to love selective memory, eh?

I also had an issue with the character of Dr. Skinner. He tries to bust Miranda and Semi out two or three times, but... despite almost always failing to begin with, he never seems to get in any trouble for it.

But Skinner seems to get off... scot-free, almost, despite two or three incidents of trying to free Semi and Miranda. He's still allowed to work with Dr. Franklin, still there to help the main characters with their escape plans, and manages to actually help them out towards the climax. Seriously? No, that just doesn't work for me.

The novel also begins really slowly as well. You'd think a plane crash and having to survive on this mysterious desert island would add some excitement to proceedings, but nope, nothing really happens until Semi and Miranda break away from Arnie and come across the lab.

All in all, this is a pretty creepy science fiction story for young adults, but I find that it was executed in a fair to middling kind of way. More could have been done on the psychological aspect, and there were a few characterisation issues here and there. It starts off slow, but then kicks into gear, plumbing a few quite bone-chilling, body horror scenes right out of your worst nightmares. 3.5/5.
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Dr. Franklin's Island
Dr. Franklin's Island by Ann Halam (Library Binding - May 2002)
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