Thursday, January 31, 2013

She Blinded Me with Science.

Little known fact about me: I love science. I love science the same way Movie Harry Potter loves Magic.

like that.

The way another good pop culture reference loves something else. Science, man. It's glorious.

I wanted to marry Bill Nye as a kid. I watch surgery videos on YouTube as an adult. I was that girl in middle school cutting into my frog with fascination while they other double X chromosomes squealed and cringed away from theirs. Lab days were my favorite in high school and I took 4 years of science when only 2 were required. Everything from earth to meteorology to chemistry, I took it and loved it. As a kid, I loved magic and as I grew up, I realized that's what science was: Magic.

So when The Madman's Daughter popped up on my recs, I squealed in fangirly, nerdy excitement. When I saw that it was inspired by H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau*, I officially started biting my nails in anticipation for its release. We're getting science-y up in hurr, yo! Let's do this.

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Juliet Moreau is a sixteen year old former high society princess turned maid in London, thanks to a scandal involving her runaway daddy. Despite her fall from grace, Juliet is one tough broad, with a bit of a clinically detached streak that allows her to do things like, oh, you know,  BEHEAD SUFFERING RABBITS. Chalk it up as an occupational hazard of working to clean up operation rooms and being a surgeon's daughter. Sure, it's not exactly behavior befitting a lady, but, whatever. IT HAPPENS.

She stumbles on some papers that were clearly her father's and had disappeared with him when he took off and suddenly IT'S A QUEST. A very short Quest, one that ends almost as soon as it gets started, but it's still A Quest and y'all know how I feel about Quests. Said Quest leads her to the hotel room of her childhood companion and servant, now her father's assistant? Her...previously thought to be dead daddy, who is, in fact, alive, and off doing science things somewhere remote? THAT'S NOT SUSPICIOUS. NOR IS THIS HULKING DISFIGURED MAN ACCOMPANYING MONTGOMERY. 

I can dig it.

One thing leads to another, and much to Montgomery's obvious chagrin, a word that has never been the same since Twilight, Juliet must flee to Daddy's remote island. Blah blah, we're on a boat, bitches! Oh, look a castaway and it's not Tom Hanks, it's a sea-mad dude named Edward, I wonder if....

Oh, hell. Of course. It's gonna be a love triangle.

Now, this is usually the point where I'd start flailing and screaming, and maybe you're glancing back at my rating wondering at the 4 stars. After all, there's very few things I hate more than I hate love shapes. I don't care how good your story is. Include a love shape and I'm rating you down because LOVE SHAPES. UGH. And it's true that this particular love shape took up a good chunk of an otherwise Grade A story. BUT! The rest of the story? When you cut away that love shape with a scalpel? 

Juliet's crazy daddy is fabulous. HE IS A MADMAN, I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, SHEPHERD. He is off on his island creating MONSTERS. He is like Frankenstein and his creations think he's a god! HE IS SO SO CRAZY AND I LOVE HIM. I know I shouldn't love him, because, well, he's mad and he's playing God and creating abominations and what have you, but seriously. This man is making human like creatures out of pieces of jaguars and pelicans and shit.

There's monsters, honest to goodness man eating monsters running around and shanking people and jumping over buildings and all of this, the experiments, the screams in the middle of the night, the discoveries, the deaths, the disfigured animal-people running around, it all combines to create this seriously dark, creepy element that made me shiver in delight because apparently I'm as big of a freak as Moreau's creations.

And then, AND THEN, Shepherd does something so fabulous that it makes me cheer because EFF YOU, LOVE SHAPE:

AHAHAHAHA, EDWARD. AHAHAHAHAHA. Och aye. Sorry about your deer heart, Juliet. Tough break, kid. 

Color me impressed all around. The ending was a bit bleak, but an....interesting? set up for future books (this is a series, after all) and while I have the tendency of being critical of series and love shapes, I'm genuinely pretty excited to see some more science-y things from Shepherd and fictional crew. I'll even bring my labcoat for the next installment.


*Project Gutenberg is a free e-book database featuring books with expired copyrights.

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