Wednesday, November 9, 2011

REVIEW: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

book cover of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Title: Frankenstein
Author: Mary Shelley
Date Published: First published in 1818
Genre:  Classic Literature
Page Count: 203 pages
Challenge: None
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

**Since this is a classic novel that is required reading in many high schools, I do discuss plot points that are critical to the story.  If you haven't read this book, you may want to skip over this post!**

This is a classic that I always meant to read, and I just never really got around to it.  However, for the month of October, I thought it would be an appropriate novel to read.
In the past, I've struggled with some classics novels that everyone says that you should read.  There were some rough spots that I hit in this one, but for the most part I enjoyed it.

I think we're all familiar with the concept of Frankenstein, so I won't do a synopsis.
This book has a lot of different levels, and I think that I would need to read it more than once to really pick up on everything that is in it, but the beginning was one of my biggest complaints.  It was a series of letters that has nothing to do with the central story and I actually had to skip ahead to make sure that I had the right book and I didn't download another book accidentally!  However, once we meet Victor Frankenstein, we start learning his story and the story of the monster that her created.
There were several passages throughout this book that I thought were just boring, and I struggled through those passages as well.  The entire book wasn't like that.  I actually enjoyed the narration of the monster, and was really surprised by the fact that he was so intelligent.  One thing, if you've ever seen a Frankenstein movie, it has nothing to do with this book.  The concept of the monster is the same, but there really is nothing else.  The movies have a hideous creature who is stupid as well, and this is not the case in the book.

There's so much emotion in this book.  Victor is completely appalled by what he has done and suffers several breakdowns throughout.  There is death in Victor's family, which causes him much grief as well, especially since he blames himself for a good portion of that.  There is a lot of emotion from the monster as he struggles to find where he belongs and struggles to understand why his creator has abandoned him.  He longs for the company of others and acceptance, but never finds it and it turns him.

Another things that struck me as interesting, is the face that this is written by a woman, yet there are no strong female characters anywhere in the book.  The mother dies early on, Justine confesses to a crime she didn't commit and is thus executed, and Elizabeth waits for Victor for years, and is killed by the monster right after they are married.  Also, the monster begs Victor to make him a mate, one as ugly as he, so he can finally have someone to spend his time with.  Victor initially agrees, but destroys her halfway through because he feared that he wouldn't be able to control her actions and she would be murderous as well.

As I said, this is a novel that I would have to read more than once to really get the full effect of it.  There are a lot of different concepts and a lot of different motifs I think that are woven through this.  Overall, it is a good classic novel, even if I did struggle with the writing, through everyone else may not.  If you love classic literature and you haven't read this, you need to!  3.75 out of 5 stars!

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from  Frankenstein


Jillian said...

This is one of my favorite novels. I read it for the first time in a British Romanticism class last year. I love what you say about the lack of strong female characters in a novel written by a woman. Curious, given that her mother was the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. I really want to read Mary Shelley's biography at some point. :-)

Christina said...

I agree; I do think this is a novel you have to read a couple of times to get everything. I read it for school and it was interesting to see the different viewpoints everyone brought to the conversation. Some saw the book as a criticism of science/genetic engineering (not even possible at the time) while others saw the book as a criticism of life without religion.

S.Leighanne @ Leighanne's Lit said...

I really wish that I had the chance to read this in high school, I feel like I would have gotten more out of it than just reading it on my own. I think this is a book where getting other opinions in pretty important.

S.Leighanne @ Leighanne's Lit said...

I didn't know that her mother wrote that! But that really makes it even more interesting. I would love to read the biography as well!

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