Saturday, February 14, 2015

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - Book Review

So this will just be a short review with a side order of ranting. It's chockablock with spoilers, so if you haven't read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, keep on rollin' past, finish the book, and then come on back.

First of all, Shelley does an impressive job generating empathy for Frankenstein's monster. To the point where I truly, despite all of his crimes, cared for the monster more than any other character. We all love a reformed sinner, and the monster does show remorse at the end, but this isn't why I cared for him so much. He pulled himself up from nothing, was nothing but kind in his heart, and was continuously judged by his appearances by any and all who where in a position to offer him compassion. Including Victor Frankenstein, who creates him and immediately spurns him.

The plot point that really made me angry was when the monster threatens Victor with "I will see you on your wedding night" and Victor thinks the monster is coming for him. Duh! The monster, in three separate instances, killed his friends and loved ones beforehand (William Frankenstein and Henry Clerval, and collaterally, Justine), but, suddenly, the monster is going to shift tactics and come after you? Gah!  So stupid!!! Victor is a shallow, callous, moron. I felt like I was watching a really bad horror movie, but instead of the main character not knowing what was in the dark basement but still going down, the main character actually sees the eight foot tall serial killer with a running chainsaw out on the front lawn and decides to charge, armed with a plastic spoon. And you're really rooting for the killer.

Not surprisingly, I have the least sympathy for Victor, which might be fine, but I don't think this was the intent of the writer. If anything, I think Victor should have manned up and either made a bestie for the monster, or, failing that, thrown himself from a cliff. Because I did feel for all of the people that end up dying for Victor's stupidity. They were blameless.

Is this book deserving of being a classic? Hell, yeah. There were moral quandaries aplenty. You care about the character because of solid writing that does get a bit excessive at time, but isn't out of character for the time period it was written in. And it really makes you consider what responsibilities a deity would have. And Shelley was eighteen (!) when she wrote it. So yeah. Kudos. The book, especially being a slender volume, is well worth the time. Particularly because of the monster's entreaties for humanity from the humans around him.

Beer Pairing: RJ Rocker's Brown-Eyed Squirrel
Movie Paring: District 9
                                                                                                                       
Overall rating: B

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