The genetically-modified human-animal hybrid pop band “The WyldBoyZ” are the hottest and newest thing going. Rescued from a secret government-science research barge, The BoyZ are taken under the wing (no pun intended) of a producer identified as “Dr. M”. At a hotel party after a show, Dr. M is found murdered in his bed, and all of the band members are suspects. Detective Luce Delgado is thrown into the mix as lead investigator, and she has less than 24 hours to find the culprit.
Gregory very obviously takes a lot of his cues from The Island of Dr. Moreau (of the late, great, H.G Wells’ fame) but he does it in his own way, adding quirky puns to the modern twist of a boy bands’ rise to fame. The novella is divided into segments, of course, but they are labeled as “tracks” as opposed to “chapters” (for example, “Track 1”), encouraging the musical theme. The novel is narrated by Luce Delgado, but each band member also gets the chance to tell his story, helping the reader learn more about the formation of the band, and its mysterious history.
There is some deeper societal reflections to be found within Gregory’s pages as well. As the band members tell their individual tales, they speak of their desire to be “seen as humans” but instead they were “indentured” and “labeled as immigrants” when they first arrived on the shores of the United States. Each animal-human hybrid struggles to identify as one or the other, either human or animal, and yet finds common ground with both.
The premise is creative and modern, and Gregory writes in a style all his own, full of puns and quirky repertoire. The novella left me wanting more, wanting to know more about the mysterious barge fire and rescue that left only the band members alive. I wanted to know more about their rise to fame and the dirty, decrepit goings-on of the victim, Dr. M. Of course, fans of Wells’ work can make their own speculations and assumptions as to the before and after stories, but the specific tales of these charming characters were what really touched a chord with me (again, no pun intended).
When the ending comes, it provides the perfect twist that is both unexpected and yet completely satisfying. The Album of Dr. Moreau will leave you wanting more.