What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
Having never read Frankenstein before, I was unsure what to expect, especially after reading some negative reviews, basically stating that it did not live up to the hype. Now I’ve finished, I firmly disagree – I found it a moving, brilliantly composed classic about the dangers of meddling with nature. I would definitely say the story is oceans ahead of its time, (first edition published anonymously in 1818) and sits quite deservedly as the first science fiction novel published.
Victor Frankenstein is a keen student of science, but through his interest and over-enthusiasm for the subject, he ends up creating a grotesque monster (mainly by stealing bits and parts from the local graveyard). After the creature is “born,” he recoils in horror and disgust from what he has done, and flees, leaving his monster to roam free. A couple of years pass, then tragedy strikes as Victor’s brother is savagely murdered, and Victor comes face-to-face with the perp i.e. his creation and demands an explanation. What I didn’t expect at this point, was how much I was drawn in by the creature’s story, and how pitiable his suffering had been. Shelley writes poetically about his struggles to become accepted by society and by a family that he has formed an attachment to by watching them secretly from a hiding place, trying to master their language and learn their customs so that he can “fit in.” Obviously, it ends badly with the family’s outright rejection, and the creature becomes consumed with hatred and revenge, especially towards his creator – (cue multiple tragic events).
The novel isn’t perfect, I didn’t really buy into the eloquence of speech that the monster acquired in such a short space of time, and some parts of Victor’s story when guilt-ridden, he rails against science, himself, the world etc seemed slightly over-dramatic, however as a brilliant and original idea, and as a classic, I don’t think you can fault it.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):