Book Review: Frankenstein

So, I recently read Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Because, you know, it’s a classic of speculative fiction, was instrumental in development of the archetypal “mad scientist” character, was one of the first books to bring up the issue of science creating life and whether that’s morally acceptable or not… might be worth reading, right?

Wrong.

Frankenstein was one of the most disappointing “classics” of speculative fiction I have ever read.

I mean, it really has nothing going for it except the basic premise. Granted, that premise (which everyone knows) is well worth contemplating, but honestly you get a better sense of it from any horror movie with a Dr. Frankenstein-like character and a Frankenstein’s Monster than from this book.

The basic problem is that Mary Shelley evaluates the entire situation in terms of emotion, not morality, and has absolutely no grasp of how emotions actually work. I mean, really – none of the characters are believable. They’re all extremely stylized over-emoting self-absorbed idiots. Which is somewhat of a problem in a book mainly about human emotion (she devotes almost no attention to the actual scientific or moral issues at hand). It’s a nightmare, but not in a good way; it’s like a parody of English Romanticism.

Just do yourself a favor and watch a Frankenstein movie instead…

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2 Responses to Book Review: Frankenstein

  1. e7th04sh says:

    Well, what you described is actually pretty typical for that period. I mean, we had “Young Poland” period then, with poetry full of this type of emotions and nature.

    Thesis – people really were like this book portrais them, at that time … i mean those, who Shelley belonged too. Really, with modern air transport USA is closer to Poland, then to the world of past, and yet we, poles and americans, really differ in most basic aspects of human nature, believe me.

  2. I’m currently reading Jane Austen’s _Mansfield Park_ (for school); it was written around the same time (both in the 1810s), but is much more bearable than _Frankenstein_ is.

    I think the issue I have with Frankenstein isn’t that it deals with strong emotions and nature and is a product of the Romantic movement (I can appreciate Romanticism as well as any). It’s that it does such a bad job of presenting convincing emotions.

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