Book hype can go one of two ways: either it's just as incredible as everyone says it would be, or it's so over-hyped that it's a disappointing read. The Madman's Daughter didn't quite fit into either category for me, but sat somewhere in the middle.
I'd heard of several bloggers saying that they couldn't put this book down, and just raced through the pages. When I picked it up from the library, Jaime @ The Perpetual Page Turner told me that the book had a slow start, but it would pick up. I'm glad that she warned me, otherwise this book likely would have ended up on my "gave-up" shelf. It took over a hundred pages to really get going, and I generally give up if the book hasn't captured by attention by page 50.
The story is good, and the plot is well-developed. There's a few good twists to the story, but some of them are a little predictable. Perhaps that's simply because I've read so much Shakespeare during my undergrad degree -- most of the twists I figured out before they were revealed. I didn't know much about the H.G. Wells' Island of Dr. Moreau, the story that this book is based upon, but I imagine that the premise is somewhat similar. In some ways, this is an excellent way of bringing a taste of a classic novel into a more contemporary reinterpretation. A young adult of today may not pick up the classic tale, but would enjoy a more contemporary retelling of the story, thus ensuring that these classic stories don't completely fade into the woodwork.
There were a few things about the book that irritated me, hence the fact that I didn't fall head-over-heels for the story. Juliet's character was a bit irritating, and I had to keep reminding myself that she was a Victorian girl. The way she pines over both Edward and Montgomery, then chastises herself for having feelings, then pines again drove me a little crazy. I understand that it's the way the Victorian era was; however, there were some points in the book where she would long to feel the touch of one boy, then imagine kissing the other boy in the very next sentence. It got to be a little much after a while. The second thing was the animal cruelty in the book. I had to skip over some sections of the descriptions, because I just can't stomach people mistreating animals, even if it is a fictional account.
On the whole, The Madman's Daughter is a good book, and the pace of the story definitely picks up about a third of the way through the book. I liked the Shakespeare allusions, and enjoyed the majority of the book even though there were certain things that irked me a little.
Sidenote: I am left confused by the fact that this is the first book in a trilogy? Not sure how the story will continue on, or whether I'm interested in reading on. I suppose I'll wait and see what the reviews for book two are like, and make up my mind at that time.