The Island of Dr. Moreau follows a shipwreck survivor to an island on which animals are being transformed into human-like creatures, both physically and socially, by the cold and calculating Dr. Moreau. When it was first published in 1896, The Island of Dr. Moreau shocked and horrified most of its audience as well as reviewers. H. G. Wells effectively employs disturbing elements to explore both the implications of evolutionary theory and to satirize modern society's religious institutions and its pride in its "civilization"—all through a story filled with suspense and adventure.
As with the other early "scientific romances" that initiated Wells's literary career, The Island of Dr. Moreau successfully integrates serious ideas into a story driven not only by fast-paced action but also by the author's gift for placing the fantastic parts of the story in the realistically depicted world of his audience. Thus, Wells offered the growing field of science fiction an important model as well as one of its most highly regarded examples.
A shipwreck in the South Seas, a palm-tree paradise where a mad doctor conducts vile experiments, animals that become human and then "beastly" in ways they never were before--it's the stuff of high adventure. It's also a parable about Darwinian theory, a social satire in the vein of Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels), and a bloody tale of horror. Or, as H. G. Wells himself wrote about this story, "The Island of Dr. Moreau is an exercise in youthful blasphemy. Now and then, though I rarely admit it, the universe projects itself towards me in a hideous grimace. It grimaced that time, and I did my best to express my vision of the aimless torture in creation." This colorful tale by the author of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds lit a firestorm of controversy at the time of its publication in 1896.