Book Review · Historical Fiction Challenge

REVIEW: The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells

The Island of Dr. Moreau
H. G. Wells
Kindle Edition
Challenges: Historical Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis: A shipwreck in the South Seas, a palm-tree paradise where a mad doctor conducts vile experiments, animals that become human and then “beastly” in ways they never were before–it’s the stuff of high adventure. It’s also a parable about Darwinian theory, a social satire in the vein of Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), and a bloody tale of horror. Or, as H. G. Wells himself wrote about this story, “The Island of Dr. Moreau is an exercise in youthful blasphemy. Now and then, though I rarely admit it, the universe projects itself towards me in a hideous grimace. It grimaced that time, and I did my best to express my vision of the aimless torture in creation.” This colorful tale by the author of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds lit a firestorm of controversy at the time of its publication in 1896.

Scary stuff.  I’m never really any good at digging to find a deeper meaning, whether philosophical, political, or otherwise.  I tend to read just for the story, and if I manage to see it as a metaphor or allegory or whatever, it’s a bonus.  But I don’t usually read to look for those things.  Clearly by the synopsis above, straight from Wells’ own mouth, this story is more than just a horror story about mutilated creatures but rather a very well crafted metaphor for the world as he saw it.

The unfortunate part of this story is how alone Prendick feels at the end; that he can never really and truly trust other humans after the island.   And I felt a little sad about his dog-creature.  Really, I pitied the creatures: they were just unfortunate enough to be selected for Moreau’s morbid curiosity.  Then they were pretty much slaves to Moreau and they feared him.  They were never going to be able to live their normal animal lives once Moreau got his hands on them.  Poor creatures.

I haven’t read much by H. G. Wells, only this and The Time Machine (I’m in the process of reading The Invisible Man, though I don’t think I ever put it on Goodreads…let me check…nope, not on there.)   Anyway, I think I like his writing.  I think I’m partial to H. G. Wells because I really enjoyed the character in Palma’s Map of Time (review here).  It gave a personality to this author and whether it’s true to life or not, I did enjoy him.  (And I may also like the idea of a female version of H. G. like in the SyFy show Warehouse 13…side note, I hate that SyFy is spelled that way now, SciFi made much more sense…but I digress).


Have you read this?  Thoughts? What do you think Wells was trying to tell us about human nature and the universe?


7 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells

  1. I went through an HG Wells phase in High School and I’m loving reading everyone’s reviews of him! I really liked this novel I think for the grotesqueries it created, I mean you’re spot on with the sadness, but there was such foreshadowing of what genetic manipulation could actually do in Wells’ writing!


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