Title: The Island of Dr. Moreau
Author: H.G. Wells
Genre: Classic Science Fiction
Narrator: Jonathan Kent
Length: 4 hours
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Release Date: January 1, 1896
Content Warnings: body horror, animal cruelty, animal death, gun violence ableism, torture, racism, alcoholism, suicidal thoughts
Ranked among the classic novels of the English language and the inspiration for several unforgettable movies, this early work of H. G. Wells was greeted in 1896 by howls of protest from reviewers, who found it horrifying and blasphemous. They wanted to know more about the wondrous possibilities of science shown in his first book, The Time Machine, not its potential for misuse and terror. In The Island of Dr. Moreau, a shipwrecked gentleman named Edward Prendick, stranded on a Pacific island lorded over by the notorious Dr. Moreau, confronts dark secrets, strange creatures, and a reason to run for his life.
While this riveting tale was intended to be a commentary on evolution, divine creation, and the tension between human nature and culture, modern readers familiar with genetic engineering will marvel at Wells’s prediction of the ethical issues raised by producing “smarter” human beings or bringing back extinct species. These levels of interpretation add a richness to Prendick’s adventures on Dr. Moreau’s island of lost souls without distracting from what is still a rip-roaring good read.
My primary inspiration for reading this classic science fiction/horror tale is its profound influence on literature and pop culture, in books like The Madman’s Daughter and shows like Orphan Black. When I got approved for an ARC of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, I decided it was time to read the original before starting another retelling.
This story is a dark and creepy exploration of the limits of morality, science, humanity, and nature. The titular doctor experiments on animals to transform them into human-like creatures. It’s grotesque, horrifying, and surprising. I don’t know that this is a must read classic for everyone, but it’s a quick read (the audiobook was only 4 hours) if you like the genre and are curious about this mysterious island and its inhabitants.