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The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
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's review
Mar 19, 2009

really liked it

Review – The Island of Dr. Moreau

I was wary when I picked up The Island of Dr. Moreau, having for some reason not liked H.G. Wells in my younger days. I was surprised at how refreshing and strange the book was, and how well it read.

The book is not without its flaws. The denouement – that the strange inhabitants of the island are animals surgically altered to give them human form – is loudly telegraphed, even if you didn’t already know it. At the end, Wells feels inclined to warn us that “there can be no denying that, whatever amount of credibility attaches to the detail of this story, the manufacture of monsters – and perhaps even quasi-human monsters—is within the possibilities of vivisection.” Well, I haven’t seen them yet, but that doesn’t make the story any less entertaining.

Wells displays here the same anthropological imagination he does in The Time Machine, here with the society of humanimals on the island. When the narrator finds himself in a colorful village-nee-zoo, he discovers its inhabitants practice a religion of sorts, that revolves around suppressing their animal instincts and maintaining their humanity. This eerie pantomime of human enterprise provides the crucible of the story. When a rebel Leopard-man reverts to his carnivorous ways, Dr. Moreau’s whole project falls apart.

This was a quick, exhilarating read, with none of the usual verbosity that keeps me away from turn-of-the-century novels, and more depth and compassion for the author’s monsters than most novels have for their protagonists. Highly recommended.
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Daniel Great review. Echoed my general opinion of the book quite nicely.

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