Book Reviews, Reviews

Review: Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

This is my first post as part of the Classics Retold Project, hosted by Alison at The Cheap Reader. Look out for more Frankenstein related reviews and posts from now until the end of September!

Review: Frankenstein Amazon| Goodreads



Summary (From Goodreads.com)
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 committed 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 bestseller and an 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? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.


Author: Mary Shelley
Length: 263 pages
Source: Purchased

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★
Readability: ★★
Overall: ★★

My opinion:

This is a really hard one for me to review, because let’s be honest, who wants to admit they don’t like a classic? However, I want to be honest about how I felt, exactly the same way I would for a new release, so it’s controversial opinion time!

Of all the books I’ve loved this year, not one has managed to get a four or five star review with anything less than a 3/5 for characters. Although a really great plot may balance out average characters, I’m very much character driven. Unfortunately, Mary Shelley’s characters in Frankenstein, did not wow me. In fact, if I were to be completely honest, I didn’t even like them. Frankenstein himself mostly came across as whiny and full of self-pity.  Admittedly, by the end of the book his life has been ripped to shreds, but he came across as pitiful even before the monster has done anything wrong.

I’ve seen a few reviews that claim Frankenstein ticks all the boxes, including romance, and I just don’t see that at all.  I found Elizabeth Lavenza quite bland and two-dimensional, desperate to make Victor Frankenstein happy at all costs.  Their union is set in motion by Victor’s parents and never questioned, despite the fact there seems to be no passion, lust or in fact anything much more than sibling affection between them.

The plot itself was by far the best feature of the book. Throughout the novel we watch Victor Frankenstein, a young man with dangerous levels of ambition, eventually develop into a brilliant scientist who manages to create life. Unfortunately, the creature he creates his hideous, and terrifies both his creator and strangers. The novel follows the consequences of Frankenstein’s experiments with nature, both on Frankenstein and the creature himself.  Full of dark drama, thought-provoking themes and plenty of twists, I really enjoyed the plot of Frankenstein.

The writing style and I just did not connect, in any way.  The fact that the story is being told by Captain Robert Walton, having heard the story from Victor Frankenstein (who heard parts of the story from the monster himself), just didn’t work for me.  The three characters didn’t have particularly individual voices, and that combined with the use of past tense usage meant I found it very hard to feel connected to the story or the characters.

I would definitely recommend reading Frankenstein, if only so that you can see the original story, rather than the Hollywood version.  Although I personally felt it was let down by the characters, I really enjoyed the plot, and Frankenstein made for a fantastic book to discuss.

Buy it? This is a free kindle read, so definitely! It’s not too hard to find a cheap paperback copy either – mine was 99p.
In a nutshell: A thought-provoking, enjoyable plot but let down by characters and a writing style I couldn’t connect with.

Other Reviews of Frankenstein: Bookworm diaries | Living on Literary Lane | SF Mistressworks

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