Frankenstein

Posted December 13, 2012 by Tara in Review /// 8 Comments

Not the cover from my edition — but maybe more accurate.

Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley
Tantor Audio
Audible/Kindle Whispersync
[#67 in my 75 book challenge]

Y’all, I got the audiobook from Audible for 95 cents, which came with the Kindle Book (sent automatically to my iPad) for FREE…and they SYNC! I know I sound like I’m being paid to say this (I’m not), but I’ve been waiting for such a miracle of technology. Sometimes I’m really into an audio book and want to keep reading in print. Sometimes I want to take my print book on the road. Now I can.

And now the actual review…

Frankenstein is the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. The story is told through three layers of narrative. First, a ship captain pulls a man out of the icy water and listens to his tale. The man is Dr. Frankenstein, who explains how he created a life out of human parts, but couldn’t stand the thought of what he’d done. The third is the monster’s story as told to Dr. Frankenstein one day upon their meeting in the woods. Each narration weaves the story of how Dr. Frankenstein came to create the monster, and how the monster came to terrorize Dr. Frankenstein.

The three layered narration gives a voice to both Frankenstein and the monster, showing the good and the ugly side of each. Dr. Frankenstein comes off as obsessed, curious, and somewhat reckless. The monster comes off as sympathetic, lonely, and frightening. At the end of the day, though, Victor Frankenstein looked like a mad scientist and his monster just needed a hug and a friend.

(We’ll forget that part where the monster runs around killing everyone.)

The writing in the story is beautiful, thought the plot can be hard to follow at times. By the end, though, everything makes sense and the glorious complexity of Shelley’s characters is revealed. Frankenstein is a classic, and a staple of the horror genre, for a reason: Mary Shelley can tell a story. I never expected the ethical and moral dilemmas about the dangers of knowledge and creation to be so intense in a horror novel!

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

FINAL GRADE: C I had a very hard time rating this book. While I loved the themes and the characterization, it took some time for it all to sink in. Sometimes I found myself wanting to move on to another book. Simon Vance, the narrator of the audio book, is amazing, but the story was hard follow while riding on the bus and walking around campus. I assume it’s a book that would get a higher rating if I read the book 100% in print. The writing is rich, so I missed a lot of the story while listening. That being said, it would be a good addition to a middle school media center — though not many students would read it, the ones who do read it will likely appreciate the story. Ditto for high school. However, I do wonder how much the average high school student actually gets out of this story. I think they could get a lot out of it with some help, but I certainly appreciated it more as an adult than I would have in school.

Have you read Frankenstein? Did you read it in high school? What are your thoughts?

Tara

Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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8 responses to “Frankenstein

  1. I read it in a Gothic Lit class as an undergrad and wrote a feminist critique of it for my final paper. It’s one of my favorite books…Like you said, all those layers. While I think high schoolers could enjoy it, I think it would have deeper meaning for them as adults. BTW, I mentioned you and put a link to your blog in my Little Wednesdays post last night. Hope you check it out!

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I read Frankenstein in high school, AP English 4. We weren’t going to finish the whole reading list so we split into groups and divided it up, I chose Frankenstein over A Tale of Two Cities (which I still plan to read eventually). It was a short book but provided a lot to think about while reading, I’d like to read it again.

  3. I haven’t read this book. Not sure that I will, but I do have a copy in our school library for our middle schoolers. I understand that Mary Shelley was quite young when she wrote this book. Is this correct?

    • Dyl

      She was in her twenties when she wrote this book. She had a competition with her husband and a neighbor to see who could come up with the best scary story. She got the idea for her story from a dream. Her husband liked it so much that he encouraged her to expand on it or else she probably wouldn’t have made it into a book.

  4. Dyl

    I would definitely suggest reading this book in print. It’s SO easy to miss the subtle nuances of creepy if you aren’t paying really close attention.

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