Frankensteinby Mary Shelley
~ Goodreads ~
Rating: 3.0 Stars
-- SPOILER ALERT! --
The story of Frankenstein is a classic that has been around for a very long time. Many people know the story, but I know a lot of others do not. So I'm going to go ahead and insert a SPOILER TAG here if only because I know I might have given away a few things about the ending. You know, just in case.
To be totally honest, the book itself only received 2 Stars; the extra 1 Star is for the fact that this book continues to remain a popular historical classic after all these years and I can see reasons why.
I don't claim to be a good critic of literature. Analyzing books in high school was one of my least favorite assignments. I read for enjoyment and entertainment; I like what I like and I don't like what I don't like. Frankenstein has been on my reading list for a long time for various reasons that aren't even all that significant. I'm glad that I've finally read it, but I'm not going to deny that I only partially enjoyed it--it's not a bad book, but it's not going to be one of my favorites any time soon.
The story itself is written very well. The format wherein a story is written as a series of letters sent to the sea captain, Walton's sister Margaret, is one of the appeals of the book. Epistolary, right? The long-running prose of Frankenstein himself is settled within one of these letters, written by Walton to his sister as well as edited by Frankenstein himself. On top of that, we then get an anecdote presented by the creature created by Frankenstein, told by Frankenstein to Walton, who embeds this short story into the long-running letter to his sister of Frankenstein's story.
It all sounds pretty confusing when you look at is as a set of stories within a set of stories within a set of stories. But I really liked it a lot.
Unfortunately, that may be where the attractiveness of the story itself stops. Frankenstein is a very intriguing and thought-provoking tale, and I dare to say that there is more meaning behind the concept, the ideals, and the reactions one would have towards the subject matter presented by Frankenstein. Is Frankenstein's creature pure malevolence by nature, or was he turned that way by society's treatment of him just because he's a hideous monster? Does someone become a monster because we turn that person into one, or would that same person become evil regardless?
The execution of the story itself, however, is filled with meandering tangents, long-drawn out monologues, and very little to draw out an emotional spark of any kind. The only time I might have felt saddened or slightly horrified was at the death of Elizabeth on her wedding night. Otherwise, it feels like good ol' Victor did enough angst-ing for the lot of us. The story also appeals heavily upon your suspension of disbelief as it gives very little credence to how one mad scientist could be so ingenious as to create a living creature by himself, or how this creature is able to be so far superior to human beings that he learns to communicate intellectually with Frankenstein in less than a year simply through observation.
Maybe I just don't know how to appreciate classic literature and I'm sure there are many people more apt to appreciate this book than myself. I've read very few old classics (I read Dracula in middle school and enjoyed it immensely, so it's not like I'm a complete pretentious jerk about classic literature). I'm not familiar with Gothic horror either.
I understand that this is the fashion of which stories were written during Mary Shelley's time--long drawn out descriptions, lots of anecdotes and lots of stories within stories within stories (the format of which I do like), but that don't seem to pertain to the central plot. I was once told by a friend who is a lover of old classics that these books always loved to "tell, in five or more words, what can easily be told with just one."
It was a thing of the times, I guess.
Still, I'm glad that I read this book. I may not have enjoyed it much, but I have a better understanding of it's popularity now.
Reading this novel DOES bring into perspective how different the story of Frankenstein and his monster has become after Hollywood's touch, though. While reading this book, I tried very hard to conjure up the movie version of Frankenstein's monster, but it just did not fit the description given by the book itself.
It makes you wonder, doesn't it?
This book was read for my 2014 TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader.
This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in October 2014.