Book Review: Frankenstein

 Mary Shelley apparently premised this monster novel on a dream she had about a scientist. I’ve got to hand it to her; dream-based fiction is a tough genre to write. I tried it once, and the result was a critically panned three hundred pages about me having a conversation at a theme park with a fat white guy. The twist was that the guy was actually… Daniel Wu! I know, right? For those who don’t know, Daniel Wu was a guy from my high school who was neither fat nor white. He was skinny and Asian. He was a good long-distance runner and in grade ten he went out with Kylie Pope. In hindsight, perhaps monsters do make a more interesting theme.

Frankenstein follows a brilliant young scientist named VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN. After quickly reaching the limits of his field, VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN sets his sights on creating life. He succeeds in animating a giant humanoid, so hideous that VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN flees from it. The monster attempts to join society but is continually shunned and attacked. Realising it will never gain human acceptance, the monster finds its creator, VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN, and demands he make him a companion, a female monster. The scientist VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN agrees, on the condition that the monster and his bride leave civilisation forever. Halfway through the creating process, however, VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN’S conscience prevents him from bringing another horror to life, and he destroys the female monster. VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN’S original monster vows revenge. It launches an unceasing attack on VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN’S family and friends, to cause him as much sorrow as possible. To rid the world of the evil he has unleashed, VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN devotes himself to hunting down and killing the monster.

I’d like to say a quick hello here to Scott Bandini. Scott is a friend of one of my workmates; he joined a few of us at a pub trivia night two weeks ago. One of the second round questions was: In the book Frankenstein, what is the name of the scientist who creates the monster?  Though I had not read the book at the time, I was confident I knew the answer. When I suggested that it was a trick question, and that the answer was, in fact, Frankenstein, Scott laughed at me as though I were stupid. “That’s the monster’s name,” he said, once again, as though I were stupid. Soon everyone else at our table was laughing at me. We all left early and didn’t get to hear the answers to the questions, so I’d just like to let Scott know that I have now read Frankenstein, and can say for sure that I did get that question right. No hard feelings. Even though you embarrassed someone you just met in front of his colleagues. Water under the bridge. And you didn’t pay for a single drink all night.

Even more frightening than the monster is Frankenstein’s cursed ambition. In his all-consuming quest to become smarter, more renowned and more accomplished than his fellows, he neglects what is most important. In the end his great achievement costs him love, peace, happiness, and the lives of those dear to him. This book serves as a timely warning in this fast-paced age, where being rich and famous is considered the pinnacle of human achievement, and relationships often fall by the wayside. Frankenstein’s choices cause him great regret; what kind of choices am I making?

Frankenstein is not as scary as I imagined it would be. Still, I would not recommend it as a bedtime story for a five-year-old. Lesson learned. There is action aplenty here for the imagination to play with, and enough depth to challenge the mind. 7/10


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