April 23, 2013

A Review + A Giveaway

I'm falling horribly far behind on my Debut Author Challenge goals, but it's still early in the year, so there's no need to panic just yet. Today, I give you Megan Shepherd's debut The Madman's Daughter, which puts a YA spin on H. G. Wells' classic novel The Island of Doctor Moreau. Let's just pause for a moment to admire this gorgeous cover...


...And we're back. I've never read the book on which this story is based, so I can't speak to how faithful of a retelling it is, but I can tell you that I enjoyed Megan Shepherd's adaptation. {Here's the link to the synopsis on Goodreads.}

The setting in particular really leapt off the page for me in The Madman's Daughter. The bulk of the story takes place on a remote island (hence the title of the original work), mostly overgrown and hiding horrific creatures that really shouldn't exist. Megan Shepherd is a master at conveying the dark and creepy aspects of this island. I found that this story read very much like a classic in many respects, especially where descriptions of setting were concerned, which is nothing short of fantastic.

I enjoyed Juliet as a character even while I found that I couldn't always relate to her. I'm squeamish, so her fascination with her father's experiments was difficult to understand, though this was something that deeply disturbed her as well. This back and forth struggle was actually one of the most interesting aspects of Juliet's character and conflicts in the novel, in my opinion. Also compelling were Montgomery, Edward, Balthazar, and Alice for very different reasons. Dr. Moreau, however, was utterly frightening and shudder worthy from the moment he first appeared on the page, as I'm sure he was meant to be.

As I was mostly unfamiliar with the original work, this story kept me guessing (for the most part) right until the end. I didn't see certain things coming, so when they were revealed I was plenty surprised. Obviously, I can't share what those things were without spoiling the story, so you'll just have to take my word for it. The second book in this series is inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I'm very curious to see where Juliet's story goes next.

From the richly imagined setting and the horrific creatures that populate it to the ethics surrounding scientific discovery and experimentation, The Madman's Daughter is certainly evocative and well worth the read.

A word of warning: There are some descriptions of vivisection in this story that gave me pause. I'm very sensitive to anything involving cruelty to animals, so I feel that I would be remiss if I didn't mention it. That being said, I don't think this is something that should keep you from reading this book, especially since vivisection is never presented in a favourable light. It's clear that the author is calling it out for what it is → truly horrifying, unnecessarily cruel, and all kinds of awful.


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I purchased an additional copy of this book to give away for Rock the Drop, but due to the content I mentioned, I felt like I couldn't in good conscience drop it without some kind of disclaimer. Since I'm able to do that here on my blog, I figured I could hold a giveaway with my extra copy. Yay, giveaway! But I also thought it would be cool to sweeten the pot a little with some completely non-creepy Madman's Daughter inspired goodies. Here's what I'm giving away to one lucky someone:

•  A hardcover copy of The Madman's Daughter
•  A bottle of China Glaze "Go Crazy Red" nail polish (hardy har)


•  An exotic bird journal with both a world travel and naturalist kind of flair to it
(both aspects feel appropriate given Juliet's journey by ship halfway around
the world and the tampering with nature that goes on in the name of science)

Lined journal with elastic closure (8.25 x 5.75 inches)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

47 comments:

  1. Good review, Jaime. I'd be interested to read this... so I'll be entering the giveaway for sure! And while I wouldn't use the nail polish myself, I'm sure either my wife or one of my five daughters will find a use for it. :)

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    1. It was definitely an interesting read, and I have to say it does make me want to check out the original by H. G. Wells. It certainly gives you a lot to think about with respect to science and ethics. :)

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    2. In answer to your question, ethics should be foundational to everything we do, not just science. If science isn't grounded in ethics, then anything can be justified in the name of "science." I think the more difficult question for a secular society to ask is not whether there should be ethics in science, but who determines the ethical parameters of science.

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  2. I think I might like this one--I have a thing for creepy islands in books (IRL, not so much). And I love the idea of a retelling of Jekyll & Hyde--can't wait for that!

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    1. Well, she's definitely got creepy down to an art. The setting was, by far, my favourite aspect of the book. :)

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  3. This book is definitely on my to-read list, so thanks for the review and giveaway! And this is the first I'm hearing about her plan to tackle Jekyll and Hyde next, which sounds equally creepy-excellent.

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    1. And as far as the official comment prompt, I definitely think we need to consider ethics in science, but I'm going to bow out of trying to delineate that line (especially in a brief blog comment ;-)). In general, I vote for progress with a healthy dose of questioning, caution, and open dialogue.

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    2. I love that she's retelling JEKYLL AND HIDE. I think that should be really interesting! I have a sneaking suspicion I know how that's going to play out, but I'll have to read to find out. :)

      In retrospect, the comment prompt was probably a little too weighty for something as tiny as a blog comment. ;-)

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  4. I have this book on my list to read (so many books!).

    As to the prompted question, with our advancing technology, we need ethics in science, and we probably need to revisit issues regularly given how fast things are changing. Evidence based research seems to be the trend these days, although some science that has no precedent, where discoveries are being made and boundaries pushed, that's where ethics are really key.

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    1. I hear you on the too many books thing. I suppose there are worse problems, right? :)

      It's interesting to see how what's considered ethical in regard to science changes as years go by. Goodness, they used to have to rob graves to find cadavers to study and now this isn't necessary. We've come so far in many ways, but there are ethical issues relating to science that kind of make me nervous.

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  5. Great review, Jaime. I agree with most of your thoughts on this one, especially your comments about the atmospheric setting being one of MADMAN's greatest strengths. Very curious about where the next book will take Juliet's story.

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    1. This one was definitely different from the other YA books I've read so far this year. I have a sneaking suspicion I know where she's taking Juliet's story in the next book, but I guess I'll have to read it to find out! :)

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  6. It's so funny in the blogging world; somewhere in one of those "writing journey" posts I read the query that landed Megan Shepherd her agent, a while before the book was released. It's so cool to see if finally published! It's on my TBR list.

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    1. I just remember seeing that cover for the first time and knowing I had to read it no matter what it was about. :P I suppose that's a pretty bad case of judging a book by its cover, right? :)

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  7. I've heard so many great things about this book. It sounds really good!

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    1. I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to seeing where she takes things in Book 2. :)

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  8. You and I have already discussed THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER, so you know I loved it and that I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel. I also love that "Go Crazy Red" nail polish. Definitely not my colour, but it's pretty and funny too. Great review!

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    1. You could probably wear red nail polish on your toes. That's enough distance from your hair. :P Actually, it kind of has a bit of an orange cast to it, so it might work.

      As for THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER, I think I might know where she's going with the JEKYLL & HYDE thing. I'll have to fill you in on my theories next time we Skype.

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  9. Ahh I have heard of this book but not enough to know what it's about! I actually have The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but didn't realise it was a followup to The Madman's Daughter! It sounds really good :)

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    1. Oh just saw the question! Figured I may as well enter the contest!

      It's interesting talking about the role ethics should play in science, it's a topic i'm exploring a lot currently in my book. I feel it should play a significant role, I feel it should be thought about before scientific experiments etc are carried out. I almost feel sections of science should be governed by ethics, but I know some will disagree with me.
      There are definitely lines people shouldn't cross. Did you hear about the dog who was a 9/11 hero who was cloned? There's a statue of him in Central Park. I feel we're getting closer and closer to cloning humans and I feel that's a line that shouldn't be crossed. Makes me think we're heading in the 'Never Let Me Go' direction... I don't like that idea at all
      But at the risk of getting into political discussions I'll bow out now because it's difficult to have rational conversations over blog comments! I took ethics papers in high school and university and from that have developed pretty strong opinions.
      The most difficult question we were asked by one of our lecturers - If you had to choose between boiling a baby or having world peace (so all famine and war going away) which would you choose. As I've gotten older the answer has come to me easier but hearing everyone's opinions on that was interesting... so I can only imagine the debate the science question would create!
      I'm ranting! Sorry!

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    2. So the second book will be based off of THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE, which should be really interesting! I have some theories about where she'll be taking Juliet's story. :)

      I think ethics are a must when it comes to science, but it's interesting to see how that line shifts as time passes. Not even all that long ago, people actually had to grave rob to find cadavers for their scientific studies. Obviously, that's not an issue now what with donations to science and whatnot. I wonder what people then would think of the relationship between science and ethics nowadays.

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  10. Science and ethics are at the center of the class I'm teaching! This might be an interesting read for that reason (plus, you're not the first person I've seen raving about it!) It's a tough balance--I think we can't help but lean toward the status quo, even when it might hold back science. Right now my students are reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which presents the question of who owns tissue taken from patients for treatment and diagnosis. I think the common gut instinct is to say that your tissue belongs to you...but on the other hand, if that tissue can contribute to research that could help millions of people, can you really say that it's a bad thing? But then, what kind of abuses could that line of reasoning lead to?

    Thanks for the review--I think I could stomach a little vivisection in favor of such a good book!

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    1. This actually would be a great book for promoting discussion about the relationship between science and ethics. It would be kind of fun to teach. That book you mention and the topic it raises sounds very interesting! That isn't really something that I've thought about before. I suppose that's true for a lot of topics in science. They explore some of those questions that we don't even know to think about.

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  11. I totally understand about being creeped out by certain content areas. I read Dan Wells' series that starts with the book I Am Not A Serial Killer, and it freaked me right out. The main character lives and works at a mortuary with his mom and is obsessed with death and has all the makings for a serial killer, but desperately doesn't want to become one. It's a fascinating book, but it goes into detail about preparing bodies for burial and EWW. It's a book I recommend to some people, but have to warn them about that part because I was not warned.

    As far as ethics goes, I definitely think it needs to be part of science. Every field that has an impact on people has ethics it requires practitioners to follow, and science should be no different. The sticky part comes along when deciding what the ethics actually are and who decides them. Therapy for instance, has a governing board that decides what ethical considerations everyone else needs to follow. So, science should have the same. And the reality is that they may value different ethical considerations than lay-people would. I don't think that anything should be done "in the name of science," but I'm sure almost any scientific discovery or testing has someone, somewhere that disagrees and thinks its unethical. who knows? Ethics in science is definitely an interesting topic to think about, interesting and frustrating. :)

    Great review! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh, that book you mention sounds creepy! I can't imagine what it would be like to be obsessed with death and to worry that you might have the makings of a serial killer. Yikes! I'm sure that's an interesting topic to explore in a book, though.

      You're so right about determining who decides what the ethics are relating to science. What a tricky thing when you have so many different viewpoints. Definitely interesting and frustrating, like you say. :)

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  12. Great review, sweetie :D I'm glad you enjoyed this book. <3 I just loved it so, so much. I don't know how to answer your question, to be honest. Because I don't know anything about science. Also, I'm Norwegian, so I'm even more confused, lol (A) But I do agree with your thoughts about the animal cruelty. I think that should never ever happen in science, or whenever. Thank you for this amazing giveaway :)
    Love, Carina

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    1. Thanks, Carina! :) It's a pretty tough question to answer--in a blog comment no less--so don't worry about it. All in all, I think ethics are crucial in the various branches of science, but there does need to be a little wiggle room for discovery. Just how much is a tough call.

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  13. I'm itching to get my hands on a finished copy. TMD sounds so good!

    And of course there are lines scientists should not cross. Science, for all its good, is not set apart from the rest of the world. It operates within this world and therefore affects and is affected by everything else. When we separate ethics and morality from science, bad things happen (such as eugenics in pre-war Germany).

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    1. I couldn't agree more with what you've said about separating science from ethics and the terrible result. It's definitely interesting to see how that line moves with the passage of time. There was a time when people had to grave rob to study cadavers. Thank goodness there's no longer a need for that! :)

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  14. Thanks for the review! I'd been looking forward to reading this book, though I've never read the tale on which it's based either. My TBR list is kind of crazy though, and I just haven't gotten to it. So thanks for putting this back on my radar, and thanks for this fabulous giveaway! :)

    I definitely think ethics should be considered in regards to scientific discovery and that there are lines we shouldn't cross. I don't think we should sacrifice our humanity for the sake of knowledge as it were.

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    1. Now that I've read TMD, I kind of want to read the original. Actually, I just need to check out some H. G. Wells in general. My TBR list is ridiculous it's so big. I feel like I'm forgetting about all kinds of books. :/

      Not sacrificing our humanity for the sake of knowledge is a great way of putting it. I wholeheartedly agree. :)

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  15. Oooo I wanted to read this one. Now I have even more reason! :)

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    1. I remember the first time I saw that gorgeous cover and wanted to read it no matter what it was about. That's a perfect example of judging a book by its cover. ;-) I'm really curious to see where she takes Juliet's story in the next book!

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  16. This is on my list! Thanks for the warning about the animals, though. Also--giveaway? Yes please. I did mention it's on my list, right?

    As far as ethics in science go, yes. There should be. I don't know what that line is. I think advancing medicine and all that is really important, but it shouldn't be done at the cost of an animals life. Except maybe mice. Is it weird that I feel that way about mice? I don't know...

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    1. I know people are sensitive to things involving animals (as am I), so I wanted to make sure I mentioned it. Like I said, it wasn't enough to make me stop reading, so that's good.

      I'm not sure what the ethical line in science should be either, I just know there needs to be one. Medical advancement is definitely important, but only so long as it doesn't leap over that line. And I actually kind of like mice... Though, I'm not crazy about them being where they aren't supposed to be, you know?

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  17. What a great giveaway! I think the nail polish is brilliant. ;)

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    1. Thanks, Sara! :) I wanted to find a nail polish that matched the red on the cover of the book and the name of the polish was just the icing on the cake. ;)

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  18. I totally agree with Sara - the nail polish completely seals the deal! :)
    This one has been on my TBR list for awhile, but I too, am so far behind on my DAC reads - I've only read two on my list so far. Yikes.
    And since you and I both feel the same way about animals, I appreciate you giving the heads up!

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    1. Ahhh, and your question on ethics in science. I am a huge Science geek, so of course I lean towards all things Science. But, I do believe that ethics should be taken into consideration, depending on what the project is. I'd like to think if I were in a predicament, I'd consider both sides heavily and opt somewhere in the middle.

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    2. Well, I'm glad everyone seems to like nail polish. :) I figured most of us are into that kind of thing. Maybe I'll even throw in a pair of jean shorts with fabric panels and a matching scrunchy lol. :P Kidding.

      I think you've touched on something important regarding the relationship between science and ethics. When it boils right down to it, if the situation necessitated it, how much would we be willing to bend our ethics in the name of science. I think we can all say "No way no how" about certain things, but if it was a big enough predicament we'd probably find ourselves actually considering both sides a little more. Does that make sense?

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  19. I personally believe that ethics should be applied to all aspects of life, science included

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  20. I think this is a great question to ask, Jaime-- and the book and the goodies you're giving away with it all sound fantastic!
    I have been thinking about this a lot lately because I'm starting a series of woodcuts of extinct insects. Because of advances with dna/genome work scientists have lately been discussing whether we can/should remake species that are extinct. This could be Neanderthal humans (seems like a bad idea), dinosaurs (have we learned nothing from the work of Michael Crichton?), or more recent extinct species where we're to blame for the loss (the dodo, for example). I think it's a fascinating idea, but dangerous-- and it sadly fits in all too well with our throw-away culture. Why protect pandas when we can just make them again once we ruin them? So, I think there is a good argument for keeping ethics in science. But from a lit standpoint, I think it's pretty cool that authors have been exploring this idea for so long.

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    1. Wow, what a great response to the question! :-)I had no idea that they were seriously discussing whether or not to remake extinct species. On the one hand, it sounds great, but on the other, highly inadvisable. Especially in light of the Michael Crichton example you refer to. O_O You're so right about the throw-away culture thing, too. I hadn't really thought of that in relation to this topic, but it's absolutely true. How pompous to think we can just do what we want and then fix it whenever we want.

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  21. This is a hard question to answer. Science is science, and it requires observation, research, and testing to find answers. However, I think we need ethics in science, in everything. Without ethics there would be no boundaries, and without boundaries there would be chaos. (Don't get me started on animal testing.) Thanks for the giveaway; I loved this book!

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  22. I've been really wanting to read this book! The cover is so gorgeous and the story sounds very unique. I definitely think that we need ethics in science and that there are some lines that shouldn't be crossed. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

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  23. I loved this book so much. Juliet's journey in this book was so interesting and terrifying. There were so many twists that I didn't see coming. I can't wait to see where the second book goes. As for science and ethics I definitely think there are some lines that shouldn't be crossed and this book was a perfect example of that. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

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