‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley
For this book review, I chose a science fiction novel with themes of ambition, revenge, family, and dangerous knowledge — that was written over 200 years ago, Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Even if you don’t like “old” books I recommend that you give it a try. It is amazing how relatable Frankenstein is, and there are even free versions of the e-book that you can download — bonus!
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (who was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft the feminist philosopher and writer) is probably best known for writing Frankenstein. It is one of the earliest examples of science fiction and is a fascinating tale of human nature written by a woman whose own life was no stranger to both tragedy and scandal. The novel bears little resemblance to the many Frankenstein movies that came after it, yet it foreshadows many themes in science fiction works to come.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Frankenstein:
“None but those who have experienced them can conceive of the enticements of science.” (Chapter 4)
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” (Chapter 23) “Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” (Chapter 20)
One of the most fascinating pieces of this novel is how the monster represents “the other” in society. Whether it be differences due to physical or mental disability, culture, or social class, Frankenstein’s monster is a perfect example of someone who is ostracized because he does not fit in. How he is treated by his contemporaries is a timeless story, and there are moments when the monster seems even more human than his creator, Dr. Frankenstein.
If I have one complaint to share about Frankenstein, it is that some of the prose is a bit formal, and therefore it can be difficult to read if you are used to twenty-first century English. However, that can also be part of the charm of reading a book with so much history to it. All things considered, it is an amazingly fresh read for a two hundred year old book about bringing a lifeless body back to life!
Rating 4 stars out of 5
Originally published anonymously in 1818
Now part of the public domain
Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.