Chris Kuhn's Reviews > Frankenstein: The 1818 Text

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
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did not like it
bookshelves: summerreadchallenge-2018

I know I will incur the wrath of some devoted fans of a classic. Clearly it has a following based on the fact that it cracked the Great American Read list of 100 books competing for top vote-getter by PBS viewers. Starting this summer, I have been attempting to tackle as many of the list as I can, books that I haven't read or maybe started at one time but did not finish. This is a book that I had at one time begun, and after having completed the Mary Shelley-penned horror novel, I now see why I put it down and never picked it up again.

Sigh. Okay. My complaints. They are major - most seriously, it brings the cardinal rule of literature: HOOK me! For the entirety of this book, I didn't care. About much of anything or anyone. This is never a good result of any book. I knew going into the reading experience that at some point, the book would be told from the monster's point-of-view. At times, the ONLY thing that kept me reading was this knowledge, awaiting that moment. That notion intrigued me. And I will admit that once I got to that point of the book - about 40% or so in Kindle-speak, I was fairly interested for a good deal of the next 20-30% of the book. And then, Dr. Frankenstein took the reins of the storytelling once more, and it returned to long-winded, repetitive and dull recollection.

My requirements to enjoy a book are not all that complex. If you are going to include much dialogue, lead me to want to eavesdrop and steal a secret or two. If you will have more first-person introspection than dialogue, fine - entice me to want to delve into the protagonist's head. And if you prefer to describe ad nauseam the landscape and general setting and record plot points like an observer more than as a participant, you had better invite me along for the ride as your co-pilot. I want to see it, feel it, taste it - smell it! (I much prefer dialogue-heavy books, probably due to my love of theater, but a great set-immersing writer is J. K. Rowling. I haven't read all of her books, but while reading the three or four HARRY POTTER series books that I did, she had me drawn into her descriptions so easily that I became a part of the scene watching the action unfold.)

So that brings me back to this book. Here, the descriptions go on for paragraphs and pages and ramble on and on and on...with no real pay-off. I recognize that perhaps for its time, a female author bringing such a horror-driven storyline and cast of characters to the literary world might be of some significance but it is not timeless and compelling writing. Sorry. It just isn't and does not hold up at all. Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES is fascinating as old as it is. Hawthorne's THE SCARLET LETTER, captivating. Cervantes' DON QUIXOTE, amusing and wise in its ultimate lessons for us all

For me, FRANKENSTEIN did not compel for much of the book and while it had a smattering of some insightful and absorbing moments of internal dialogue emerge from the mind of a man-made monster, I can't recommend a book that otherwise lost my interest for most of its pages. Lumbering through this book just made me want to give another shot to the Kenneth Branagh-directed take of MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN (1994) ( I graded it harshly when I saw it at the time, but I think having read the book, it my do the best job pulling out the more interesting elements of the book and showcase them in a much more enthralling way than the book does. I may have to see that again and reassess.

Of course, if I really want to be entertained, this one is my favorite 'Frankenstein' of all.

Released twenty years earlier than Branagh's more serious adaptation of the book, and still one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Mel Brooks rocks.

I found reading Frankenstein a very unsatisfying experience and cannot bring myself to give it an okay rating (2 stars). It gets 1 star from me, solely for what monster-driven narration the reader is able to experience, not nearly enough in my opinion.

Read it at your own risk. And bring a pillow. I have a hunch you're going to need it.

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Reading Progress

June 25, 2018 – Started Reading
July 5, 2018 – Finished Reading
July 8, 2018 – Shelved
July 8, 2018 – Shelved as: summerreadchallenge-2018

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