Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

I've read Frankenstein before but I can't find the proof of it on my blog (which is weird). This is a book I avoided during my growing up years because I believed it to be spooky, scary, and therefore most likely evil. It wasn't until I was an adult and heard my friend talking about how much she loved this book that I thought perhaps I was being too harsh. After all, it's a classic and classics are terrifically good for you as we all know. What was I missing? I decided to find out.

I read Frankenstein and ended up loving it. It was not a scary read at all! Perhaps for its time it was terrifying but in today's day and age it really isn't. There are scarier things out in this world than a strange looking, overgrown persons. I found this read to be thought-provoking and full of great discussion about morality and ethics in science and medicine in particular. Reading it removed my prejudices towards "classic horror stories" and I mentally re-labeled it into my "most surprising books" category. Fast-forward to this past September wherein my family and I were traveling in Scotland. We visited a place which was planning to host an event in celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Frankenstein and I decided that I really needed to squeeze this story into my October reads in honor of its birthday and so I have done.

Frankenstein is a fast read at a mere 200(ish) pages. If you read 50 pages a day it'll be done in short order. I liked the story all over again and was very grateful for my faulty memory which caused me to forget the end. (Yes, I forget books easily. Hence I am a proponent of blogging or else I'll forget the details of a story and why I liked or disliked it.) The positive benefits to having forgotten how the story concluded, exactly, was that I was on the edge of my seat begging my children to please let me finish the final 20 pages before we ate lunch. (My family is very obliging at times. It also helps if one reads fast.) The story was thrilling, thoughtful, well-told and thoroughly engaging all over again. Hail to my bad memory! It can be a real treat sometimes!

There's very little I could add to a discussion about this classic work so I won't really delve into the particulars here. (It's more fun for me to have long discussion over books that are new and have less things said about them.) I'll merely take a moment to exhort anyone who has felt scared off of this book due to Hollywood or any other reason to re-consider it. My oldest turns 12 tomorrow and I think he's completely ready to tackle this book in all of its particulars. He is a discerning reader and can engage with the arguments. The questions raised in this book are chiefly over who has the power and authority to give life and who can (or should) take it away. What gives someone the right to create at all, let alone create life? And what duties do we have as creator beings to rip life away? Is there a moral law or standard by which we should hold ourselves to when answering these questions? Or do we simply rely on emotions to determine what types of beings should be permitted to exist on this planet Earth? All of these questions and more are explored within the pages of Frankenstein and they are questions that have the world's attention right at this moment in time.

I would highly recommend this read for a book club discussion. I think it would be grand fun (although perhaps testy at times!) to sift and sort through these questions. If you're feeling skittish about the book because you do not see yourself as a "horror" lover, I'd strongly suggest you put that label aside. If you scare easily, read it in daylight just to be safe. Also, search for a copy with decent cover art to help you get past your worries. I took the picture in this post of my copy at night (because I wanted to play around with candles) and I think it makes the book look spookier than it actually is. This artwork lends itself well to the story, but look at it in daylight if you're unnerved at all.

I'm really glad to have taken the time to read Frankentstein again and would encourage the more conservative parent not to dismiss this book outright. It's spot on for discussing current events and the value of human life in general. Don't be quick to steer kids away from the read. It's a valuable story and entertaining to boot!


Barbara H. said...

Welcome back! Good to hear from you again! I read Frankenstein for the very first time earlier this year ( It was one of my all-time biggest surprises as well. I would bot have read it, having seen black and while movies and spoofs years ago. I didn't think them scary per se, but they still weren't my favorite genre. I was so pleasantly surprised by this, especially the monster's narration about his life.

Tarissa said...

GREAT REVIEW! Frankenstein was, for me too, a classic I tossed aside because I believed it would have to much "horror" in it. It was only after a good friend of mine persuaded me upon multiple occasions that it's technically "just not scary", I finally relented about a year ago. :) I enjoyed well enough as a classic (it certainly has some pointed lessons), and I definitely changed my mind about it.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Fun fact: I did a fun group project with some of my high school buddies in AP English when I was a senior on none other than Frankenstein! I have fond memories of this book for that reason alone, though I do know I was also pleasantly surprised by it.

I'm so glad you're back! (Also--Scotland?!?!? I need to hear more about this!)

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