Currently I'm a librarian and before that I was an archaeologist, a journalist, and definitely a bit of a world traveler. I tend to mostly read science fiction and fantasy, though I do love a good mystery and I'm a bit of a book dabbler overall. I've been doing Goodreads for awhile, but a friend thought I might enjoy this as well. Let's see, yeah?
Perhaps I am biased since I love H.G. Wells, but I think The Madman's Daughter was an excellent novel. It's greatest strength is Juliet who is a strong and intelligent character who strives against society's ideas of what she, a woman, is allowed to be. Unfortunately, her kryptonite seems to be boys -- or rather, the two that she has the requisite YA love triangle with -- because she sometimes becomes less thoughtful and more helpless when one or the other is around. I didn't find either fellow nearly as compelling as she did, which caused me some problems with the story.
At any rate, Juliet's struggles with morality and her fears that she could be as mad as people claim her father to be make her much more real and much more fascinating. There are events that probably wouldn't bother other people but that she examines for hints of madness or evil.
I don't think it's a spoiler -- since this is based on the Island of Doctor Moreau -- that Juliet finds her way to an island where her father experiments on animals to create better humans. Much of the book deals with ideas of what makes someone human -- I do wish the book had been firmer on its stances about this and hadn't avoided some of the hard questions. However, a book doesn't have to be extremely deep to be enjoyable and at least it makes us readers think about the issues even if the characters are unable to. They have that whole survival thing to worry about, after all. You won't find any flawless paragons amongst the main cast of characters, and that also adds to the allure of the story.
By the way, a friend asked me -- skeptically -- if this was one of those "old sounding books." Well, while the novel presents a great sense of time -- for instance, there's a scene where Juliet is terribly embarrassed that her ankles slipped from under the covers and were viewed by a male (don't worry -- those of you who want the kissy stuff, that is here too, later...) -- it is still written like a modern YA novel and not like a faux-H.G. Wells novel.
I am highly looking forward to book two where Shepherd puts characters into a different classic tale. I do recommend that you don't look up descriptions of the next book unit after you've finished this one. Once you know what novel it's based off of you will likely figure out some major twists of the Madman's Daughter.