Victor Frankenstein has a strange fascination with medicine and magic. He believes the two can be combined to overcome our human limitations. Like death and the creation of new life. When he is mocked for his beliefs, he decides to take matters into his own hands and prove his theories. In the process, he begins down a path toward his own destruction.
What more can be said about this book that hasn’t already been said and by wiser folks than me? It’s a classic with good reason. Shelley created tropes, characters, and cliches that are still in use today. She created an entire genre from scratch. Imagine a science fiction story, the tale of a monster, or a fusion of science fiction and horror, and then imagine not having it (or at least not having it in the incarnation you may know or love) if Shelley hadn’t had this grim inspiration. The world feels more empty just thinking it.
Maybe someone would’ve figured out the art of telling a story like this eventually, but I wonder if they would’ve done it in such a beautiful way with such rich language. I realize the language might hold some readers back, but I want to encourage anyone intimidated by Shelley’s writing to push through anyway. Enjoy the words and the way they’re written. Stephen King, to paraphrase, once said you should read books for the great writing, and you should read other books for the story, but when you find a book with great writing and a wonderful story, cherish that book. I cherish this book, because it has an abundance of both.
The story itself spans years and continents in a short space, and for that, it moves with a deepening sense of suspense. It’s dark and tragic, and the complicated characters reflect this. I’ve heard it said that Victor is the villain and the creature an anti-hero. For my interpretation (since that’s all I had to give with so many voices already speaking on this topic), they were both the heroes of their own story, both wrecked by the other, making them also villains. As much as I sympathized with the creature, I can’t justify everything he did. And as much as Victor had his faults and his terrible mistakes, I felt for him when he expressed guilt to the point of being unable to share his dark secrets.
There’s more to be said. With something that stood the test of time like this has, there would be. But the most I can say is that I appreciate this book, I enjoyed it immensely, and I feel better for having read it.