The Madman's Daughter
I did not write my review immediately upon finishing this novel because I wanted to be able to explain my feelings on this amazing story rather than have the equivalent of an emotional freakout in front of all of my readers. However, it is now over a week later, and excitement and amazement about this story has not worn off. The Madman's Daughter is everything I ever hoped it would be, and so much more. That is such a cliche statement to make, but it is SO true in this case. The story had me eagerly devouring each sentence, all the while cringing over vivid descriptions of mutilations, immoral surgeries and a plethora of other violent and disturbing scenes. Throughout the story, I was searching for some semblance of good, just like the main character, and no one was more surprised than me at each new twist. Often times I see everything coming, but these characters charmed me - fooled me. If you like your description vivid, blood a plenty, mystery dangerous, romance complication, and morality questioned, The Madman's Daughter will blow you away. The story opens with the main character, Juliet, living as little more than a orphan roaming the streets of London. She has fallen from her former grace, being the daughter of a wealthy and brilliant doctor. But accusations started to fly, her father disappeared, and after her mother's death, her life now shows no resemblance to the lavish existence she once lived. Following in her father's footsteps, she has been studying medicine and anatomy in-between working as a maid a Kings College. Her father's "death" never quite made sense to her, and years later, she is still searching for answers. When she stumbles upon group of schoolboys preforming an illegal vivisection (knowledge searching operation on live animals) with the directions bearing the initials of her father, she finds out that everything she has been told about her father's death is a lie. What comes next will change her life forever... if she gets out alive. I did not know when reading that this story was based off of The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G Wells, so I read it as a work entirely its own. In addition, I have not read the aforementioned story, so I do not know which aspects directly relate. All I can say is that The Madman's Daughter is amazingly original and unlike any other YA book I've read. It is gory, it is scary, it is romantic, it is both hopeless and hopeful, moral and immoral. The story delves right into the center of the question, what makes us human? What is it exactly that is separating us from animals - from monsters? The line is continually blurred and redrawn throughout the course of the novel. Even the characters who are decidedly monstrous have heart-wrenchingly human qualities. Dr. Moreau, the villain of the novel, if there ever was one, is as charming as one can be. I loved him upon his first lines, even though I hated him at the same time. I seriously loved to hate him. But it was more than that, I was rooting for him in some strange, twisted way. I wanted him to pull through his issues, to mend the relationship with his daughter, to see the wrong in his way... that may have been too much to ask (I'll let you find out what happens), but I'll say that each emotion Juliet goes through with respects to her father, I experienced those as well. While reading, you want to decide this character is "good" or this character is a "monster", but there is so much more to each one. The levels of complexity just took my breath away. Shepherd's writing style is flawless. The only aspect that I felt kind of "blah" about was the romance. I did not feel the connection between Juliet and Montgomery, however, this accumulates to a very minor part of the story. I loved Juliet and I loved Montgomery as characters, I just didn't quite see them together. Other than that small aspect, I cannot think of another complaint. I almost wish it was a standalone because it was seriously that perfect, but I will definitely be picking up the next installments of the series. If you have half a brain (or two halves of different brains...) you should pick up this novel as soon as possible.