Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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Author: Mary Shelley
Pages: 273
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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.

***
In high school, everyone is forced to read a piece of old literature and analyze it for weeks on end. While most of theses books didn't really appeal to me (although, I always enjoyed the Shakespeare units in class), Frankenstein was that one book that made English class not so horrible- especially since we were forced to read Wuthering Heights (aka every soap-opera I've ever watched with my mom bundled up in words) afterwards.

For someone who really isn't into reading classic literature or the gothic/horror genre, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! 

What I liked about Frankenstein the fact Mary Shelley, an 18 year old who ran off with a married man to tell ghost stories in a castle with Byron, was able to write a story that not only brought to life our greatest fear (mankind being subordinate to other beings/being powerless), but the hypocracy of the world.

I mean, the person that wrote this was a woman, and she essentially was writing blasphemy during her time period. I think someone that can capture the fine line that we walk between science and religion, and the true corruption of mankind is amazing. 

What really made the book even more interesting for me, is how 1) the book REALLY varied from the movie (I now know that my mother was right when she said that the monster didn't have a name, and that Frankenstein was the name of the person who created the monster), and 2) how re-used the story is.

I never really noticed how many people drew their influences from Mary Shelley. I think the first series that comes to mind would be The Madman's Daughter trilogy by Megan Shepherd. While the book was based on various different works of classical literature, Frankenstein was spread throughout the whole entire novel.

The book was pretty great, and I would actually buy a copy of this myself. I actually used some of quotes from this book to prompt some of my writing!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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