Sara Diane's Reviews > Frankenstein

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

liked it
bookshelves: 2016, classics, reviewed

This is one of those books that I figured I needed to read, if only because it has impacted so much of both literary, nerd and general culture over the years. It is also a story that, for not having read it, I'm well-acquainted with on several levels.

So first, there was nothing surprising about the story, but that is largely due to the fact that it is so well-known. Had a I read this years ago, before being exposed to the storyline in so many ways, it might have ranked a little higher--but maybe not.

My biggest issue with the story is the two narrators--our explorer and Frankenstein himself. The explorer (his name escapes me), who is the frame narrator, is rather boring and uninteresting to me. And then we have Frankenstein, the man who created the being (I have a hard time calling him a monster, more or that in a few--). And, possibly because of my prior knowledge, and possibly because this is just his nature, I hate the guy. He is weak and whiny and stupid--in fact, he reminds me a lot of the current generation that is entering the workforce now. They think they are brilliant, they do things without thinking, and then they cry "woe is me" when reality comes back to bite them in the arse. And I just want to smack them upside the head and say "tough cookies." And when your narrator is so annoying, and you think him pathetic, it makes it hard to enjoy the story.

Next, I had a hard time suspending my disbelief on a lot of the details. I was okay with the idea that, somehow, Frankenstein created this being and brought it to life. We aren't given tons of details on how this is done, but it is clear that the "parts" are made up mostly of dead humans. That's fine. But what gets me is that these dead, decaying parts somehow join together to become far better than a human being (able to withstand cold and heat more, stronger, bigger, etc). Without some explanation as to how these parts become better...I had a hard time just accepting that this creature was so far superior in strength and natural coping than what he was made from.

Then, we have the language thing. I'm sorry, but I just got pulled out, quickly, when we have this creature who, being created just a year or so prior, is suddenly able to converse--and not just in grunts and basics, but in eloquent thoughts! The progression, again, didn't fit for me. There is no explanation (perhaps his reused brain was that of a linguist, or a brilliant man, or something), and the line we are given (that he spied on a family and learned from them) only fits if we assume that the creature is of far superior intellect. I can say this because I've attempted to pick up language this way, and I'm fairly intelligent, but most people don't gain the level of eloquence and mastery of a language within YEARS of study, let alone a single season or so. It really made me doubt the narrative. I'm sure Shelley, being quite eloquent herself, didn't really consider this and though she gave sufficient support to how her character obtained such skills...but for me, they rang false.

And then, we are supposed to consider this created being a monster...but he isn't, really. He was a child, birthed and then abandoned, left to his own devices, who reached out for love and was denied by the very thing that made him. This is tragic, but it doesn't make him a monster. And this is, perhaps, the redeeming part of the story, though I'm not sure it was intentional. Because we are created beings, and our creator did not abandon us--no, he even came to rescue us when we massively screwed up. As Christians, we get what this "monster" did not--we get love and acceptance. But again, I don't think that was Shelley's aim in writing the story (maybe it was, only she could tell us). I don't feel that was the intent, but is rather my worldview and life journey influencing how I read the text. But it remains, I have tenderness for the being, and I have a very hard time with his creator.

So, I couldn't trust nor like the narrators, I kept getting pulled out of the narrative by the author's choices, and in the end, I can't see myself ever re-reading this one (which is one of the requirements I have for giving a book five stars). I'm glad I read it, it wasn't all bad (and, as a foundational piece of writing, it was worth the read), but I didn't love it, and I did not find anything overly redeeming in the story, nor did it impact me on a visceral or personal level. So, three stars it is.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Frankenstein.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

July 6, 2016 – Started Reading
July 14, 2016 – Shelved
July 16, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016
July 16, 2016 – Shelved as: classics
July 16, 2016 – Finished Reading
July 18, 2016 – Shelved as: reviewed

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Andrew (gawk) ... 3 stars? For the greatest novel ever written? ;-)

Sara Diane Andrew wrote: "(gawk) ... 3 stars? For the greatest novel ever written? ;-)"

I'll be writing a review shortly...and 3 stars isn't bad, it just indicates that it didn't impact me deeply, the writing didn't blow me away, and I'm unlikely to ever re-read it... :)

Stephanie I am glad to see I am not the only one who felt this way...there was not much that I liked about this book.

back to top