Monday, 22 January 2018

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at 200 3D Review

Frankenstein and his monster both turn 200 this month, and by way of celebration we at SOBS running a week Frankenstein posts. Over the week we’ll be posting reviews –an adult review and one by a teen. Plus running an article on the cultural legacy of Shelley’s creation and how it has manged to evolve and say relevant through the last two centuries. We’ll finish up with some Frankenstein inspires story sacks, for younger children and young adults. So first up, let’s start with the reviews.

Image result for frankenstein bookFrankenstein Review by Bea aged 13

Captain Robert Walton was trying to reach the North Pole, when he met Victor Frankenstein: The Creator.

Frankenstein, ill from the terrible cold, has been welcomed upon Walton’s ship where he reveals his past and the story of ‘The Monster.’ Frankenstein shows his private world of creating the creature and shows how his mistakes had led to him to be sick with worry, for how had he let his masterpiece escape? After endless search and disastrous help, he reveals word of his brother, William, who had been murdered!

More crimes committed towards his family, forced him to face his creation, but The Monster reveals that there is more to him than meets the eye. Is everything Victor hears true? Or is this even the Monsters real story, and why does he end up in the North Pole almost dead?

Frankenstein is a fantastic book full of creative twists and turns written by the young author Mary Shelley. Brilliant old English, that starts off tough but pushes you into the story and will never let you out. I couldn’t put it down and thought it was one of the best books I have ever read!

Frankenstein Review Adult

Reading a classic for the first time is always a peculiar thing, which I approach with a certain amount of trepidation, I am always concerned whether it will meet my expectations, after all it is a classic - a story I know. One I was weaned on by numerous adaptations, reimagining’s or the transportation of key characters into other worlds, literary or on screen.

However when reading the original I released that despite having encountered Frankenstein and his monster before in many guises, none of them capture the essences of Mary Shelley’s original text – like a Xerox copy that has been copied again and again, they fade losing details and potency.

Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus is still fresh, relevant engaging and beautiful. To start with though a tip: persevere through part one – initially it seems unrelated and hard going, but stick with it for you will be rewarded! The first part of the book comprises of four letters written by explorer R Walton to his beloved sister as he attempts to be the first man to battle the elements to reach the North Pole. These letters at first reading seem out of place and unrelated to the main plot as through his letter you are exposed to the interworking’s of a deeply flawed man’s mind, who’s singularly obsessed with no concern for the fate of anyone around him as he leads them towards a very cold painful demise. But when you get to letter four the story comes to life and pace changes with the first glimpse of the monster and the staving, battered Victor Frankenstein is pulled from the icy waters. From here on out we get the story we expect as Frankenstein recounts his tale as warning to Walton about his ambitions and vanity.

Victor from his deathbed tells of his obsession with science, alchemy, mortality and his crowning achievement and biggest regret creating the monster, which comes surprising early in the book, much earlier than I expected having ‘known the story already from films!’ But I was also presented by other surprise the complex feelings experienced by Frankenstein leading him to shun his creation, resulting in a deathly dance between monster and creator. I had always assumed that Victor himself was always only guilty for creating the monster not moulding him too.
Shelley explores the intimacy of the relationship between father and neglected son. With the damaged son’s violence escalating as he desperately seeks for his father attention and love. This can also be read as a parable of religion. But what is so fascinating about reading Shelley’s original text is it’s commentary on society. These messages are frequently lost in translation when the story is adapted and made to fit nicely in a genre pigeon hole. The mirroring of the not too distant history (at the time on writing) of the French Revolution; in the book Frankenstein being France, Walton Great Briton and the Monster is the starving masses ignored by ruling classes that eventually respond in kind.

The science in Frankenstein are equally as fascinating especially if you think at the time it was cutting edge; electricity was still in its infancy, and the same year as the book was published the first attempted blood transition took place in London. Shelley was writing about new frontiers but she was commenting on the oldest of human concerns, cheating mortality with Frankenstein’s obsession with modern sciences, ancient alchemist, to control death in a godly image. This human concern is one that is eternal, just look at two of last year Sci-Fi blockbusters, Ghost in A Shell and Blade Runner 2049 which are both essentially Frankenstein for the 21st century, proving Shelley’s story has an enduring relevance.

Another surprise that the books presented was Shelley’s beautiful penmanship, for example when Victor travels throughout the story, the geography and landscaped are all exquisitely visualised, reading more like a travel diary in the likes of Victorian Explorer Mary Kingsley.

All in all, Frankenstein has superseded all my expectations; it is a beautifully crafted, multi-faceted masterpiece that broke moulds and arguably birthed an entire genre – science fiction. It is definitely worth reading for advance mature middle grade readers, young adults and beyond. 

Thank you for stopping by and reading, please come back for more Frankenstein post during the week.

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