What a bizarre book. Inspired in part by The Island of Dr. Moreau, Dr. Franlin’s Island by Ann Halam tells the story of three shipwrecked British teenagers who fall into the hands of a mad scientist. Semi, Arnie, and Miranda are the sole survivors of a plane crash on their way to a scientific program for teens in Ecuador. They survive for weeks alone on the beach before discovering Dr. Franklin’s compound and his horrors of genetic engineering. He holds them as prisoners and alters their DNA in his attempts to make bird/human and fish/human hybrids.

I almost gave up on this book four times. It’s not the kind of story I would read normally, and it just didn’t grab my attention until several chapters in. I found the teens’ experiences with Dr. Franklin kind of terrifying but mostly just strange. Halam brings up some interesting twists with how her mutant teens feel about themselves once they’ve changed. It was riveting in parts, nauseating in others, boring through the rest. I think teens who like science fiction might be drawn to this, but they’ll have to be pretty determined.