Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Frankenstein, My Review

I finished reading this book a few months ago but hadn't been able to post my review before, caught up in work and all.

The first thing that comes to my mind is:  What a let down! I know, I'm sorry if you are a fan of the story but for me, it was hard to finish it. We all know the story:  Brilliant scientist gets obsessed with leaving his mark on the world and what bigger mark than eliminating death from scratch, right? He then dedicates half his life to mix and match body parts with liquids and electricity until he finally manages to accomplish his goal.

So far, so good. The style is a bit heavy on the rhetoric side but, hey, it's an 1818 book, so it kind of goes with the territory. The story is interesting and the characters relatable. Given that much of this section is told using the memories of a man who longs for the past tranquility and happiness, Shelly fails to convey that foggy, magical feeling memories tend to have. Instead, she gives way too much attention to the philosophy and morals behind Victor's actions. Gothic novels rely heavily on ambiance, and though the novel has clear traces of Gothic Style, it falls short from other great examples like Dracula, or Poe's work.

The second portion of the book I read out of sheer will power. There's no horror in this novel, at least not in the way every other Frankenstein lore and movies make you think. Most of the horror comes Victor Frankenstein himself in the form of cowardice that costs many lives.

When his monster wakes, the scientist feels horrified by his creation. Now he discovers how gross it is to have made it out of corpses. He has three options, either educate and study his monster to ensure humanity will only receive good from his creation, kill him in that same spot before the horrifying spawn becomes stronger, or run like a girl and try to forget this ever happened. Yeah, you guessed it. He runs.

Really, who can expect that running from your problems will make them vanish? What was Shelly thinking?! Anyways, the monster is forced to learn of his appearance by the reaction of others, is forced to feed himself, and becomes sad and angry against his father for abandoning him, and humanity for shunning him.

Shelly is clear in this section about the good naturedness of the creature when he first awakes, it is only after months of receiving bad treatment from others that he turns. So the monster is clearly for whom you feel and, at this point, is Victor who is the real monster.

I won't go on with details and ruin the novel for you but I'll go on to say that the other thing that didn't work for me is how, on the final section of the book, Shelly tries to revive our good feeling for Victor and make out of the creature the villain. You have to be very clear on how you want your readers to feel about your characters, or you have to be extremely skillful to change our minds midway. Mary Shelly is neither. The end I received with a celebratory sigh and swore never to open this book again.

If you enjoy classic literature, I wouldn't say skip it at all. It is a must read for those hard core fans of the horror genre, but don't expect it to be a horror in the modern sense. If you get easily annoyed by characters doing stupid illogical things, this might not be your cup of tea.

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