Friday, January 11, 2019

Book Report: "Frankenstein"

I wonder if any other literary classic has been as thoroughly bastardized, maimed and arbitrarily altered as “Frankenstein.” 

The lumbering, monosyllabic, parched-together zombie that movies and TV have pushed out into society have nothing in common with the monster in the book, an eloquent, monologue-reciting student of Milton and Plato who moves with the stealth of a ninja, makes his kills with swift, purposeful precision and badly needed a therapist or some Prozac.

The ultimate bitter teenager, the monster is a fascinating villain because of his hatred of existence itself and resentment of his creator. His obsession with bending Frankenstein (a neurotic, ever-lamenting ness rather than a wacky mad scientist) to his will, tormenting him in increasingly sadistic ways, makes for the crux of the cat-and-mouse game at the center of the plot.

Dan Stevens’ narration of the Audible edition was crucial to my appreciation of the book. Not only does he capture the frenzied paranoia of Frankenstein, but the obliviously evil whininess of the monster. His is now the voice I associate with the creature, rather than Boris Karloff’s grunts.

The book is a deep, philosophical dive into scientific ethics, the plight of creation and godship, as well has humanity’s innate tendency to shun the unfamiliar and unsightly. 

After a rough, slow-paced opening segment, Shelley hits her stride and tears at her themes and story with overwhelming passion. This is a work or near genius, and I was often floored at its majesty. Her work, ahead of its time and now out of control and debased, is much the same as the monster she writes about.

Publisher provided review copy.

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