Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review: The Madman's Daughter - Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Genre: YA, classic retelling, horror
Published on January 29, 2013
Published by Balzer + Bray
Pages: 420
Read From: 4.3.13 - 4.5.13

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London - working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true. 
Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward - both of whom she is deeply drawn to - Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius - and madness - in her own blood.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes. Can't see the character impersonator's face, and it's just kind of intriguing, even though it's actually a rather boring cover. The title is what really catches one's attention, but I do still really like the cover.

Characters: At first, I thought Juliet was going to be a sensible and tough protagonist. Never mind she was a little crazy; I'm all right with a protagonist who isn't entirely sane, so long as she's practical. Sometimes insane characters are the most practical. Well, not Juliet, apparently. It didn't take very long at all for her to become empty-headed, rash, and too emotional. Love triangles tend to do that, which is part of why I hate them so much. As much as I dislike tampering with classics, I actually did like what the Author did with Montgomery in this. In H. G. Wells' original The Island of Dr. Moreau, Montgomery is anything but likable. He's a drunkard and cruel to the island's inhabitants. The Author takes all of that away, and presents a kind Montgomery who hates what he's done, and tries to redeem himself. Edward Prince - the Author's rendition of the story's original Edward Prendick - was too eaten up with jealousy for me to really care all that much for him. Like I said, love triangles ruin good characters. Balthazar - M'ing's counterpart from The Island of Dr. Moreau - actually rather grew on my affections after a while, even though I don't really care for animal-like characters. But I didn't actually really like him, and Alice.

The Romance: And here's where the story fell down. I realize that Montgomery and Juliet were supposed to have known each other for a long time prior to the story's beginning. But when Montgomery first comes into the story, this is the first time the Reader is meeting him, thus the romance between Juliet and Montgomery seems super fast. There's also the fact that while Juliet and Montgomery might have known each other as kids, it's been years since they've been around each other, and they don't really know one another anymore. Edward Prince just throws in complications, as Juliet finds herself attracted to him, even though she knows him even less than Montgomery, and it becomes apparent that her "love" isn't love at all, but lust. If this had been a side plot, maybe I would have been okay with Montgomery and Juliet liking each other, but the Author focuses on it quite a bit, putting this more in the romance category than horror.

Plot: If you know about about The Island of Dr. Moreau (the book, that is, not the 1977 or 1996 movies), then you'll get the general gist of the book's plot. The Madman's Daughter is essentially a retelling, only the Author has put in her very own protagonist (since Dr. Moreau never had a daughter in the original). She's changed pretty much everyone's name and character, and has just kept the original story's basic structure. I, personally, didn't like what she did. This probably isn't the case, but it felt like the Author liked the original story's idea, but not the characters, so she just did what she wanted with it. I am not saying that that is what the Author was thinking when she write this, but that is what it felt like. And in doing so, she took away all that makes The Island of Dr. Moreau a chilling and engaging story. A lot of the changes she made are subtle, but they bothered me. If there isn't a reason for changing something in the original story, don't change it. With Edward Prince, she did have a reason, and I actually liked it, so I'll excuse that. I also really liked the addition of the monster; that was kind of creepy.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: It is very choppy, with lots of very short sentences. There's nothing beautiful about it, nothing poetic, and pretty modern.

Content: 3 g--dams. Juliet is almost raped (pg. 52), but it doesn't go very far. The violence isn't very detailed, but it is gruesome at times.

Conclusion: The big twist in the end was unexpected and good, but it didn't redeem the fact that rather than an awesome retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau, this was really just a sappy love story with characters that I really didn't care about all that much. I liked Montgomery well enough, but mostly because I was just desperate for someone to like, and in the end, I didn't care what happened to him.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, seventeen-and-up.

Others in This Trilogy:
1)The Madman's Daughter
2)Her Dark Curiosity

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