Dr. Edward Prendick finds himself on a plane that is crashing into the sea. Luckily, he survives and is eventually found on his little raft by a passing ship. Dr. Angela Montgomery nurses him around and eventually the ship drops all passengers and their cargo at a little know island. There, Prendick is pulled into a world of animal experiments that will push the boundaries of his moral compass.
This story is told as a series of flashbacks. Prendick lies in a hospital bed recounting his tale to his insistent daughter. Prendick is a mathematician who did some classified work during WWII. He’s a Brit who is still highly respected in his field by both the British and the Americans. Too bad his plane went down. He was believed lost to the world by all but Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Moreau. I was a little surprised by how much of a delicate flower Prendick was. He was usually freaking out about something or making rash decisions. He was a right nuisance on the island, even if he was the only one with what society would call normal morals. Still, he was a great character for Dr. Montgomery to stand beside and appear very reasonable and I think this made the story more intriguing. As a reader, it forced me to slow down on making a judgement and to truly consider the merits of the work of Moreau and Montgomery.
I was surprised how few lines and appearances Dr. Moreau had in this story (or, at least, this rendition of it). After all, he is the master mind behind all this. So while we see little of him, his large ego leaves a lasting impression. He’s playing God with his experiments and he doesn’t hesitate to say so.
As a biologist, I have long been both repulsed and fascinated by the experiments in this story. When Prendick first meets a few of these talking experiments, he thinks they are merely odd, deformed people. Later, he mistakenly believes that Moreau took living men and experimented on them, bringing out animal characteristics. Once he finds out the truth, that Moreau took animals and gave them human characteristics, he calms down a little, at first. The final step in the experiment is a pretty gruesome, painful one, requiring the chosen animal to remain awake and aware. Not all those who live through the experiment appreciate the gifts they have been given.
As you might guess, things start to spiral out of control shortly after Prendick arrives on the island. Part of the reason is that he goes mucking about in a very excitable manner. But, then, Montgomery and Moreau don’t treat all the living experiments with respect either. Then there is the basic nature of the experiments and what will out in time. It was like the perfect storm.
And then we quickly come to the ending which was rather anticlimactic for Moreau and a bit drawn out for Montgomery and Prendick. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get more from Moreau over all for the entire story and I was definitely a little sad to have his part of the story come to a swift end. After all, he is the reason, the driving force, for this tale, right? But then I enjoyed having more time with Montgomery and Prendick. From the flashbacks, we obviously know that Prendick makes it off the island alive somehow. It was fun to see how that came about.
While I have enjoyed other HG Wells stories, this was my first time listening to a version of his book The Island of Doctor Moreau. I was not disappointed. All the drama associated with the moral conundrums of the tale was there. Also, I enjoyed the divided loyalties of Dr. Montgomery, who was saved by Dr. Moreau back during WWII, who loves the science of their work, but also has questions. Prendick was somewhat of a spazzing butterfly much of the time, but this personality trait went well with his sheltered, well mannered, bookish mathematician air. I look forward to future Mondello Publishing performances.
I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher (via theGoodReads Audiobooks Group) in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: The performance all around was pretty worthy. Ms. Boltt had a spot on German accent for Montgomery that I really enjoyed. Posner did a great job as the highly excitable Prendick, sounding disturbed throughout the entire performance. I want to say that Jeff Minnerly had a great disgruntled voice for the ship captain and also a perfect mesh of human and monkey for Monkey Man. Bob De Dea did an awesome Hyena Man. There were plenty of animal sounds (screeches, grunts, cries, hyena laughs, etc.) throughout the performance and my hat’s off to that – well done! There was some exciting music in between scenes that I enjoyed, keeping the scene shifts clear to me as the listener. Most of the sound effects were great. There were a handful that took me an extra second or two to identify, but that is my only little quibble on the performance.