When I originally thought of Frankenstein I pictured some crazy scientist with a green monster who had the brain of a 4 year old. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Victor Frankenstein is anything but crazy, Frankenstein’s monster is emotive and kind, oh and villagers don’t end up chasing them down or killing them.
The book opens up to a series of letters written by a seafaring explorer Robert Walton. He’s headed to the North Pole to simply place his feet where none have gone before. His ship becomes trapped in some ice & while he and the crew wait for it to break through they rescue a very tired and worn out Victor Frankenstein. The crew helps nurse the doctor back to health & that’s where the perspective shifts to Victors.
Victor was fascinated by the human body, life, death, and decay. He dedicated years of study at university to finding out the secret of life. Cut off from his family he was just a tad obsessive, and he eventually learnt more than even his professors knew. After a stormy night he manages to create his monster. The monster is a gruesome beast, towering at 8 feet tall he doesn’t understand much of humans or the English language at this point. He’s basically an 8 foot tall baby, and Victor is a little scared of him. Victor refuses to go back to his place, now haunted with his creation. He instead diverts and heads into town, where he runs into his old pal Henry. The shock and horror of creating life wears on Victor, causing him to fall ill & stress over anything related to anatomy. In the time of Victor’s tiny mental breakdown the monster kills his brother out of rage. The rest of the world places the blame on a woman that lives with the family, and since Victor can’t tell them there’s a monster on the loose, she is executed for a crime she didn’t commit.
Feeling guilty and at a loss of what to do next Victor roams the wild, and that’s where the monster catches up to him. The monster has learnt how to speak fluent English & handle emotions. Here he convinces Victor to create him a companion, someone he can take to South America & live with out of the eye of humankind. As they both sit in the monsters hut the creature describes how life was for him after Victor fled. He started to learn of human’s ways and their language by observing a family from a distance. Here he learnt how to speak, a families obligations, and plenty more about humans and their dedications to one another. However when the monster tries to speak to them in hopes of friendship they reject him, casting him away as a grotesque being. Victor realizes he has not only created a sentient being, but also one that has the ability to learn and grow from understanding. Here Victor agrees to create another creature, someone that the monster can cherish. Victor’s not too excited about it however and goes to England for more research & a little hopeful to find an excuse to get out of this bargain.
He ends up joining an academic tour that will take 2 years to complete. During this time and travel with his friend Henry, Victor grows increasingly worried and nervous about the bargain with his beast. He decides one night to create this companion for him, only to destroy everything and put it all behind him. When Victor leaves town for a nighttime boat-ride the monster kills his friend Henry. The town accuses him of murder, but with little to no evidence they have to acquit him. With all of this grief Victor returns home to see his father & fiancé. Here he realizes he wants to put this monster mess behind him & instead focus on the life laid out in front of him instead. On their wedding night the monster kills Victors wife, and from the sadness of it all Victor’s father passes away shortly after. With his whole family destroyed Victor vows to avenge them, and sets his sights on destroying the creature.
This is where the story returns to the beginning, Walton and his crew picked up Victor on his hunt of the monster. From here the narrative returns to Walton’s. Victor convinces him to join his quest of killing the creature, and that works for a few days until the ice breaks and the crew wants to head home. They decide to forgo the hunt, getting back home is important to the majority of the crew. On the way back Victor succumbs to his illness & dies onboard the ship. The monster sneaks onto the ship and holds his dead creator in his hands, telling his story to Walton as he grieves. The story ends with the monster walking out into the barren landscape ready to die.
Frankenstein gets a 6/10 from me. I liked it enough, I just don’t think I would reach for it again. The story was a little hard to get through, Victor is just a little bit of a Debbie downer, & the pacing was so slow in places!
This book felt like it took ages to trudge through. In essence it’s a great tale of tragedy and horror mixed together. A creator terrified of his creation, a creature with no knowledge of the world they’ve been thrust into, and so much death just screams for a novel full of excitement… except this one fell short. I think there’s a certain beauty in leaving the reader to imagine the monster for what they’d like, however there’s also a some laziness in there as well. The scenes in this book weren’t all that descriptive & it was just a little off putting to be honest. I felt like I was reading the short points instead of reading the actual book.
However I do want to say Mary Shelly does a great job at pulling at readers heartstrings and making them feel compassion for Frankenstein’s monster. I never really feared him, I honestly wanted to reach through the book and give him the hug he needed! Instead of seeing him as this raging monster dead set on ruining Victor’s life, I saw him as this misunderstood 8 foot toddler who just needed some education and a great makeover. I commend Mrs. Shelly for making a monster that had feelings and emotions, and having the humans be the actual monsters in this story.