Wednesday, July 30, 2014

{Book Review} The Madman's Daughter #1: Megan Shepherd

Rating: 7/10
Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Genre: Gothic, Thriller, Romance, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction,
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 29, 2014
Recommended For:
Page Count: 420
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Goodreads Synopsis: 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.

Would I Buy It? While I immensely enjoyed The Madman's Daughter, I wasn't head-over-heels in love, and probably couldn't justify buying it unless it was in hardcover and I got it for a bargain price.

Reaction After Finishing Gaaah! Why did I read all of this to end up with this thing? (My finishing reactions are oh so eloquent) There was so much build-up for the end of the book, and I kind of think it was almost the cheaters way out. While I didn't guess it, it was also kind of predictable.

Genre????? What I would like to ask to anybody who has ever read this novel is, "How the heck do you contain ALL that this book is into a neat little genre?" If you look at what I listed for the genres, as well as what other Goodreads users have said, we have categorized The Madman's Daughter as "Historical Fiction," "Science Fiction," "Horror," "Fantasy,""Mystery," and "Romance." If you didn't know, those are A LOT of genres, and even books with weird premises and complex premises don't normally have THAT many genres. 

Mystery and Horror? So, I haven't read much horror, and I'm not the biggest "blood and gore" kind of girl. Nevertheless, I agree that this book should be categorized as horror, not because of ghosts, goblins, or other supernatural creatures.... but because of how horrifying it was at times. The synopsis The Madman's Daughter purposefully does not goes into detail about the various creatures and creations Juliet's father has brewed up in his laboratory.

In the beginning of the book, we find out that Juliet and her now deceased mother had been cast off by society because of a scandal surrounding her once revered father for "butchering." *Haymitch Abernathy voice* Butchering doesn't even cover the half of it sweethearts. If you have a squeemish stomach, or strong ethics when it comes to animal cruelty, The Madman's Daughter is SO not for you.

I'm not even going to try to get into what Juliet's father does. The gist of it is that he is a mad man who is trying to create the perfect human (and of course, has a tragic backstory  about how humanity is cynical and jaded), and operates on animals so they look, think, act, and speak like humans, but still retain animal-like innocence. This (of course) backfires, which is what drives a lot of the plot.

Ughhh, an Annoying Love Triangle *flips hair* The love triangle and the annoying characters nearly ruined this novel for me and is what took off that star. The best comparison I can make is to the Selection Trilogy. Juliet is like America Singer. Montgomery is like Aspen. Edward is like  Maxon. I can tolerate A LOT from love triangles. In fact, I even like them when they add a kick to the story (Shatter Me), but I cannot stand them when the narrator is indecisive and can't make up her mind. Also, it's one thing when I concretely know who I want the girl to end up with (Shatter Me), it's another when I'm torn between them (Legend), and it is a whole other freaking ball game where I don't give a crap who she ends up with as long as she chooses one and stays with her decision. At one point, on page 309, I even said in my Goodreads Updates, "This is getting a bit ridiculous." I feel that I didn't get to know the characters enough to care or sympathize with them, and so many of their actions/dialogue seemed like cardboard, like something from a Disney Channel sitcom. 

Juliet COMPLETELY flipped out when she thought for one sliver of a moment that her relationship with Montgomery was threatened by a girl who A. was 5 years younger than him B. more of a little sister/family for reasons later unveiled C. not in the slightest bit competition. 

While the love triangle added to the story, it seemed a lot more like a plot device than something added for the reader's enjoyment. I love a little romance, but it would have made the story a lot shorter and faster if almost all of the love triangle was cut out. The characters, however were necessary for certain "OMG" moments and turns in the plot.

Every time Juliet changed her mind like a girl changes clothes (she did both quite frequently)
Historical, Scientifical, and Fantastical.... Four words: Mad Scientist In London.

When you categorize a book as "Science Fiction," you automatically think of books set in the future with some crazy thing that has happened/gone wrong in society because of science. Yet that isn't the case, there can be scientific aspects in a story, that are just a wee bit too much to fathom, which is what turns the story into fiction. The work that Juliet's father does is drawn from basic scientific principles, but (I'm pretty sure) they can't happen/wouldn't actually work. 

When you categorize a book as "Fantasy" all you are saying is that it is an idea removed from normal reality [thank you Merriam Webster]. This particular definition is synonymous to the word "fiction," so fantasy can technically just refer to something unrealistic, such as the different creatures Juliet's father (he was never given a name) had created which is what adds the larger-than-life fantastical element to it.

When you categorize a book as "Historical," you're simply stating that it took place in the past. And of course, whenever you think of London in a novel, the story always takes place a long time ago sometime before the 1950s. I mean, a novel set in present day London? Hogwash! Unless you're reading The Kane Chronicles with Sadie Kane. Anyways, it doesn't state the exact time or year The Madman's Daughter it takes place in, but it seems to take place during the turn of the century at the very beginning of the industrial revolution, and before women were regarded as nothing other than delicate creatures made to play instruments, do needlepoint, and make babies. 

What happens when all three genres are tossed into the Nutri-Bullet blender of awesomeness? 

A Gothic Thriller.

Now, I had never heard of this specific genre before, but that is exactly what The Madman's Daughter was. "relating to a style of writing that describes strange or frightening events that take place in mysterious places" BAM! That is exactly what this book is. I mean, the Webster dictionary couldn't have described it better. The strange and frightening experiments taking place on the mysterious island. What else can you say about it? 

Thriller means "work of fiction designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense" and The Madman's Daughter was definitely that. I read some reviews that said it was slow paced, and I honestly haven't got a clue what those people are talking about. The feels were being stimulated nearly every moment of the novel, and in reality television like format, revelation, after exclamation, after explanation unfolded around me. It was as if a ball of yarn had been tangled, and every section that was untangled was a new and exciting part of the story.

Quotes 7.75/10:

"Not handsome in the classic way like Montgomery, but more subtle, deeper, as if his true handsomeness lay in a story behind those bruises and the crumpled photograph. Something to be discovered, slowly, if one was clever enough to decipher it." --- 91

This phrase is how Juliet describes Edward to us in the beginning. And am I the only one who thought "and you're going to make darn well sure that you're going to be the one to decipher his story." Even in you haven't read the book? Do you feel it was her dying wish to uncover the mysteries behind Edward? *spoiler alert* She did.

"The interior doors have a safeguard. Only five-fingers can open them." --- 126 Juliet's Father

And for those of you who haven't read the book, "How well do you think that worked out for everybody?"

"Thous shalt not drink spirits! Thous shalt not eat flesh of living creatures! Thous shalt not roam at night! Thus shalt not kill other men! This is the word of your god!"

This is the list of commandments that Juliet's father created in order to keep his creations in check and tame. Let's just say that when regression (aka when everything goes to hell) happens, his creations don't obey them.

Conclusion: The Madman's Daughter was a breath of fresh air, and in a genre I haven't picked up before. Despite annoying characters and romance, the premise of the book was horrific and intriguing with non-stop action, and shocking turns of events. This book will challenge your sense of right and wrong and will leave you one burning question, "What does it mean to be human?"

If you have read the book.... I want to know what your opinions were, if you loved it or hated it.
Were you shocked at the ending?
Who do you ship with Juliet?
Has your point of view on human versus animal changed?

If you haven't read the book.... Do you now want to, even though the love triangle annoyed me to no end?
Have you ever read a Gothic Thriller, or anything like it?
What do you think of the premise? Are you immediately repulsed, or intrigued?

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