4 out of 5 stars.
This trilogy is a rewrite of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” and, later, “Frankenstein”. It answers the age-old question that seems to be on every YA writer’s mind. What if a famous character had a teenage daughter? In this case, what if the insane scientist Dr. Moreau had a daughter, Juliet, who loved science as much as he did?
While I did not love the original by H.G. Wells, though it was interesting, Shepherd did a great job preserving the mystery and tension of the original. Even if you already know the ending from reading the classic, you are still caught up in the story and want to know how it happens in this version. The character of the novel is transferred very accurately for a teen rewrite of an older book. The language is not totally accurate for the late 19th century, but it is close enough, and the prose is accessible to a teen audience.
Juliet Moreau and her mother were abandoned by Dr. Moreau when he was run out of England for illegal experiments. After running into her father’s servant (Montgomery), she bullies him into taking her to the infamous island from the Well’s novel. They run into another handsome young man (there tend to be a lot of those in YA novels) adrift in the ocean (Edward) and he also accompanies them to the mysterious, spooky island where mysterious spooky things are happening. For those of you who are familiar with Wells, you know what the island’s secret is. For the rest, go Wikipedia it or watch the Simpson’s episode.
The second book deals with the aftermath of the island and some health problems of various characters, which Juliet has to struggle to solve. The third ties in the “Frankenstein” plot from Shelley.
Juliet Moreau is caught in between her love of science and her fear that her father’s madness will lead her down the same dark path. She sees the potential for good in her father’s research, but also the huge destructive power. In many points in the books, she has to decide whether to attempt to duplicate Moreau’s procedures to try to do good, or if all of his work is tainted and will lead to nothing but sorrow.
There is romance in the books. It starts out as a very predictable love triangle but actually turns into something sweeter and more realistic as the trilogy wears on. I found this was true of many of the elements of these books. They got even better as the series went on.
These are great for lovers of classics being revisited, or historical science fiction. They are suspenseful and atmospheric and the ending is so well done.
Also, if you enjoy these, go ahead and check out Kenneth Oppel’s “The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein“ series. Very similar feel.