Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Goodreads Description: "In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

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.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect."

My Review: The Madman's Daughter was...interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about it. The book started off very good, with a strong and determined protagonist, an intriguing male character, and the promise of sinister plot regarding her father. I liked Juliet and I liked her morals. The beginning bits with her in England were a bit boring, I'll grant that, but when she arrived on the island, I got really excited, because things were beginning to look like they were getting exciting---
         But that was it. I'm serious. Juliet moped around a lot on the island, had a lot of fights with her dad (who, by the way, was seriously creepy; he was a well-written character. He really did exclude a sociopath-ic vibe), kind of flirted with both Montgomery and Edward, and then she basically got lost in the jungle for a LONG time and was chased by a lot of scary, half-human, half-animal creatures. And then the whole jungle set on fire and there were some "fights" with the creatures and her dad and then everyone tried to escape the jungle.
         If my review sounds convoluted and a little vague, that's because the book was convoluted and vague. It had all the MAKINGS of a great novel: Gothic feel; a strong heroine; vaguely interesting male characters; an actually creepy father; a lot of creepy creatures crawling around; sinister things happening... It was like the book was always teetering on the brink of falling into "Pure Awesome" territory---because there WERE some parts that had the potential to take the book into that territory. I really do like how the author wrote Juliet's father and how he slowly was revealed to be more and more insane. I liked how she described Juliet's inner turmoil at her own origins and the bloodlust she feared was inside her, her fear that she wasn't human. And the action scenes and the suspense scenes were entertaining enough. 
        It just wasn't enough. No one really DID anything. Juliet kind of just stumbled around. She got lost in the jungle a lot, for a long time, and got chased by creatures. She went on walks and picnics. The whole book was kind of just walking and running around and her thinking a lot. 
       And the book didn't end on a cliffhanger---but it did end sort of vaguely, leaving room for more. A sequel is out, so I wonder if the sequel will actually kick things into high-gear, because this whole book seemed like a vague dream. Bordering on good but definitely a bit hazy and random.

Cover: I think the cover is pretty, but also kind of irrelevant. I think my dislike of YA novels with girls in sweeping gowns for NO reason is pretty well known. Of course, Juliet does have a reason to wear a gown, being that this was a Gothic novel---but still, it looks like she's standing in the middle of the woods when she was actually supposed to be in a tropical jungle. I think they could have done better with the cover.

Overall Grade: B-