The Island of Doctor Moreau – H. G. Wells

Island of Dr Moreau

Title: The Island of Dr Moreau

Author: H. G. Wells

Publication Date: 1896

Review Score: 8/10

After a collision with a derelict boat, the good ship Lady Vain has sunk and there remains but one survivor adrift in a dinghy. Edward Prendick is lost at sea and facing certain death when he is picked up by a vessel, carrying an unusual cargo of savage animals.

Nursed back to health by their keeper, Montgomery, Prendick soon finds himself on a mysterious island with his rescuer, a pack of strange beasts and the sinister Doctor Moreau; a genius biologist who’s radical experiments in vivisection have forced him from civilisation and perform his work on this uncharted island.

Hearing ghastly screams and discovering unthinkable creatures, it is not long before Prendick starts to piece together the horrific goings on of Moreau and the truth behind his experiments.

When thinking of H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau usually takes a back seat in the mind, with most of the praise being put upon The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, but this novel is equally ground breaking, radical and enjoyable.

Probably Well’s darkest and most twisted novel, The Island of Doctor Moreau paints a picture so vivid of these beast creatures that it is almost sickening to read at times. The book is not just a horror story however, playing on the idea of Darwinism, the novel delves into what it actually means to be human and the taboo around playing God with animals.

First published in 1896, The Island of Doctor Moreau was way ahead of its time, and even now makes the mind slightly fearful of scientific advancements in human biology and animal vivisection.

Creepy, chilling and yet incredibly clever, The Island of Dr Moreau is highly enjoyable from both a sociological and literary aspect, although it’s probably not ideal for the faint hearted reader.

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Frankenstein – Mary Shelly

Frankenstein by Mary ShellyTitle: Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelly

Publication Date: 1818

Review Score: 5/10

The last book I read and reviewed was Dracula by Bram Stoker and it seemed appropriate to follow this up with Frankenstein, as the 2 books are often considered the most famous of the classic horror novels. However, I must say I was not nearly as impressed by Frankenstein as I was by Dracula.

The novel tells the tale of the brilliant young scientist, Victor Frankenstein, a man so obsessed with the workings of the human body and the idea of creating life that he decides to create a being out of dead body parts.

After plundering graveyards he has the body parts to fashion a freakishly gargantuan and deformed shell of a creature that resembles a human being. However, after shocking the body into life he instantly realises the horror of what he has created and rejects his creation.

Abandoned, lonely and devoid of any human contact, the creature sets out to force his creator to make him a companion or destroy everything he holds dear.

Looking back over the synopsis I have just written of this book I can only think, ‘the story sounds amazing so why wasn’t it?’ The idea is brilliant, and in terms of horror, Frankenstein’s creature holds its own against the likes of Dracula and Mr Hyde as one of the all time greats, but I still found this novel disappointing.

The sheer incompetence, idiocy and irony in everything Victor Frankenstein does is too infuriating to enjoy. The instant realisation he has made a mistake, his reaction to the death the monster causes and his back and forth attitude to creating a second monster is just annoying.

I understand that he is filled with anguish and swirling emotions but to me it just comes across as drawn out stupidity. The monster as a character and his personal story is a fabulous piece of classic horror literature, but the creator is, in my opinion, to ridiculous to enjoy.

However, I am sure there are many of those who completely disagree, so please feel free to let me know why I am wrong!

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Dracula – Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Title: Dracula

Author: Bram Stoker

Publication Date: 1897

Review Score: 8/10

Dark, chilling and truly horrifying, Dracula is twisted tale of suffering, death and pure evil. Written entirely as journal entries, letters and newspaper clippings, the story follows one Jonathan Harker, a young trainee solicitor, as he travels to Transylvania in order help the mysterious Count Dracula purchase a London property.

However, after witnessing a series of strange happenings, Harker makes a horrific discovery about the Count’s true origin, after which he must escape the castle and flee back home. But by this time Dracula is already on his way to England, where he will wreak havoc amongst the people of London and once again confront the young solicitor.

Although Polidori’s Vampyre is widely cited as the original Vampire novel it is no wonder that Dracula is regarded as the inspiration and birth of all things blood sucking. Dracula is an absolutely stunning novel, and despite being written over 100 years ago, is incredibly chilling even by today’s standards.

The writing style of letters and journal entries gives the book an incredible level of realism, whilst the gradual build up to the Count’s disturbing secret makes it thoroughly absorbing. Even though I knew the story before reading it, like with many classics, at the end of every chapter I still couldn’t wait to find out what happened next!

The way in which Dracula’s movements and mannerisms are described paints a picture of pure evil, and I must say I can’t think of another character that is so captivating and revolting at the same time.

I think the only thing that tainted the book for me was having seen so many adaptations and vampire based spin offs growing up, making it hard not to picture Gary Oldman or Christopher Lee coming out of the coffin!

 

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The Long Walk – Stephen King

The Long WalkTitle: The Long Walk

Author: Stephen King (Richard Bachman)

Publication Date: 1979

Review Score: 7.5/10

Set in an alternative dystopian present, The Long Walk is a grueling annual walking contest in which 100 boys compete to win anything their heart desires…but there can be only one winner. The rules are simple, just keep walking at a pace of 4 miles an hour, don’t interfere with your fellow walkers, no outside help and don’t try and leave the walk. Slow down too much or break a rule, you get a warning, three warning are you buy your ticket.

So the question is, how far would you walk to stay alive?

One of the four books published by Stephen King under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, it plays with similar ideas to one of the others, The Running Man, in that it takes reality game shows to a point where death is not just possible but it seen as the highest level of entertainment.

I think what’s so captivating about this idea is that it doesn’t feel as if it’s a million miles away from what is actually possible in modern society. No we don’t have people dying on TV, but give people the chance to win money and they will put themselves through hell. It makes you wonder, if this was real would there be 100 people out there willing to participate?

The story itself centers around a Walker named Garraty, who entered the competition against the wishes of his mother and girlfriend. He is joined by a group of characters who all appear to be on the walk for different reasons, and although some soon become close companions, it’s hard to remain friends when you’re all needing the other’s around you die.

I must say this was a truly gripping book, I struggled to put it down and blitzed through it much quicker than normal. The idea behind it is brilliant and as always with King the way he unravels the story keeps you on the edge of your seat. All the way through I was thinking that this was definitely going to be my first 10/10 on The Book Reviewer but then I hit the last 2 pages.

I don’t want to give anything away about the end, as I would recommend this book to anyone, but similarly to the the TV show Lost, it’s all about the journey, the end falls flat, is too abrupt and doesn’t do justice to the amazing story that precedes it.

I would definitely read it again, just for the journey, as that alone is fantastic but I won’t soon forget the disappointment I was left with at the end.

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