Author: Mary Shelley
Summary: Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of devoted science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering “the cause of generation and life” and “bestowing animation upon lifeless matter,” Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts; but upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.
Frankenstein, an instant best seller and important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature?
Belle Rating: B
Bookworm Rating: B
Overall Rating: B
Target Audience: Young Adults – Adults
*Minor Spoilers Below* – may include plot details such as: important names or events
L – Frankenstein begins with a man named Robert Walton. He is traveling to the North Pole and gets trapped in the ice. While trapped, he bumps into a man on a dog-sled named Victor Frankenstein. After he is nursed back to health Frankenstein tells Walton about the monster he created and how it ruined his life.
D – Frankenstein begins his story by talking about his upbringing. He was the first born child of two devoted parents. Throughout the first few years of his childhood, he spent his life traveling alongside his parents. During this time, his mother enjoyed helping those who were less fortunate and while helping a family in need she came across an infant. Frankenstein’s mother was able to convince the family to let them take in this little girl, named Elizabeth, so that she might have a better life.
L – Elizabeth is wonderful and sweet and a great addition to the family. Sadly, the mother dies a few years later, right before Victor is set to head off to school in Ingolstadt. She tells Victor to marry Elizabeth but he’s going to go off to school first. While at school he becomes obsessed with life and death and eventual discovers the secret of life. He spends several months building a body and one night finally manages to bring his creation to life.
D – Upon seeing his creation, he is utterly horrified and flees to his room. That’s right, he is so obsessed with the idea of discovering the mysteries of life and death that he is oblivious to what the heck he’s doing. He doesn’t realize just how repulsive this creature really looks and the repercussions of creating this…thing until it begins to writhe and convulse into being on the table.
L – After “the monster” awakens him in the middle of the night he runs out of the house and bumps into his childhood friend. He is very happy to see this friend and when he returns home “the monster” has mysteriously disappeared. But Frankenstein isn’t really worried about this, he’s incredibly relieved that it isn’t his problem anymore. (haha, right……)
D – Yea….how stupid could this guy be??
L – To avoid a lot of spoilers, basically “the monster” starts killing people and threatening Frankenstein with the purpose of having Frankenstein create a bride/companion for him. Frankenstein agrees but halfway through the process realizes that this is a huge mistake and destroys the second creation. The monster is mad, stuff happens, and Frankenstein vows revenge and begins hunting down his creation.
D – But it was in vain. Frankenstein was not able to find the creature after years of searching. Not soon after telling this story to the captain of the ship, Frankenstein died. However, as the captain is writing all that he has heard and experienced with Frankenstein he hears something from the room Frankenstein’s body is in.
L – Three guesses, what’s in there? (Yeah, it’s the monster.)
D – Dun, dun, DUUUUNNNNNN!!!!
L – The style is told mostly from the perspective of Frankenstein as he is lying on his sickbed. This gives the book a retrospective, if I’d only done something different, sort of vibe.
D – Yea. She elaborates on details that don’t seem very important. But I guess that was the writing style of the times as you can see that in other classics that were written then.
L – For being so short the book can seem to drag at certain points. This is more of a problem with the beginning of the book when Shelley is setting up Frankenstein’s background. After the monster starts its shenanigans it goes much faster.
D – This is true. Other than that, I can’t help but commend Shelley’s work. After all this book started with a competition of who could come up with the scariest story.
L – She won.
D – As stated above some parts are slow. And it was hard to get past Frankenstein’s stupidity. How could you not notice that you’re making a hideous monster??? Come on!!
L – Also since it’s from his perspective you get the most knowledge about Frankenstein’s character. The rest of the characters can seem a tiny bit underdeveloped because of this. But this is a problem with a lot of first-person perspective stories.
D – Frankenstein is basically the mother of all science fiction books. Shelley knew several scientists personally, followed their studies, and implemented those studies into her story. The way she did that is what impresses me the most, I think.
L – The strength of this book for me is the gradual build of suspense. We know that the monster is out there before he starts causing problems for Frankenstein and we are constantly left wondering when we’ll see him again.
L – This a great book if you love a good halloween scare or if you like examining the mind and motives of a very disturbed man.
D – What Shelley was able to come up with is hands down one of the most well known novels to date. Sure, lots of people believe that the monster’s name is Frankenstein and there have been tons of movies and other remakes about it, but it helped pioneer the use of horror and science in books today. So if you love those genres, read this book!