Retro #BookReview: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Who knew the Doctor was such a whiny baby?!


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Narrated by Jim Weiss
Classic Dark Fiction Audiobook, Unabridged 8+ Hours
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Victor Frankenstein learns the secret of producing life, and so, by putting together parts of various corpses, he creates the Frankenstein monster. The monster is huge and malformed, but he means no harm to anyone--until constant ill treatment drives him to murder and revenge. This version of Mary Shelley's long-standing masterpiece easily captures the sadness and horror of the original. 


My Thoughts
 

This is one of those books I’ve been meaning to get around to reading forever but probably never would’ve read (or finished) if I hadn’t found a free unabridged audio from SYNC’s summer reading program.

It’s hard to believe that Shelley was only 18 or so when she wrote this novel and though I wanted to fall into it and fall in love with the prose and the story I found it a difficult and overly wordy read. The narrator, Jim Weiss, gives it his everything. There’s no denying that! He reads with such a crazed and overzealous intensity that it was almost too much for my sleepy self first thing in the AM but after a few hours I settled into his style.

The story is less about the “monster” and more about Dr. Frankenstein who is quite easily one of the most unlikable and tedious fellows I’ve read about in a while. His ego has no bounds and his selfishness and general whimpiness were more disturbing to me than anything the monster ever did.

If you don’t already know, Dr. Frankenstein breathes life into body parts he has sewn together. It takes him much study, toil and much spewing off about his great accomplishments to all who will listen (namely me & himself) but eventually he succeeds! The creature lives! You’d think this would be a joyous occasion, right? But instead of patting himself on the back for a job well done he deems the whole thing a dismal catastrophe because his creature is a fugly giant. I guess he expected him to look like a Greek God but that’s what happens when you sew DEAD FLESH together, I guess. So what does this fine gent do next? Great him with open arms and say, “There, there, I’ll fix you right up good”? Maybe shower him with a little praise or give him a warm bowl of soup, perhaps? No, he deems the beast an “abomination”, turns his back on him and retires to his fainting couch or somesuch for a nap, pretending the beast is not there and probably hoping it was all a bad dream. The poor confused and now distraught creature runs away and who could blame him? His daddy can't stand to look at him!

For such a brilliant scientist, Dr. Frankenstein is a bit of a dumb-ass. The doctor spends the rest of the book fretting and acting hysterical while taking little in the way of any sort of action as those closest to him die painfully.

I found most of this book a bit dry and boring. I despised the doctor who was such a complete wussy that he practically came down with a case of the vapors every time something dreadful happened, carrying on like a loon for pages without end. Most of the murders could have been prevented if he’d only shown his “monster” a bit of attention, affection and given in to his one little request. Instead, Doctor Frankenstein acts like a fool and gets exactly what he deserves. Lots of doom and gloom and unhappiness and I couldn’t drum up a bit of sympathy.

My favorite parts of the book were those told from the monsters POV (the monster was given a great civilized voice by the narrator). He was actually quite insightful, bright and compassionate by nature until he was treated so badly by everyone he encountered. He, of course, does some very bad things but at least they made sense.

This book was nothing at all like I expected. It was only 9 or so hours long but it seemed like an eternity and honestly I’m just glad it’s over.

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Originally Read Fall 2014

Comments

  1. When I read this book, my sympathies were ALL for the monster. I really didn't like Victor Frankenstein much at all.

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  2. I agree, the story was great, but it was so *wordy*. Just... so many unnecessary words. Lol. Sounds like the narrator was great though! I feel like I can understand why Victor refused to make another monster, like, I think his POV and feelings were believable, but it was the monster I really felt bad for too because Victor just abandoned him. And I agree, he probably wouldn't have done horrible things if he'd just had some love and acceptance and companionship.

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    Replies
    1. It was incredibly wordy. I just wish Victor hadn't been such a big cry baby. He drove me nuts!

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  3. Hmm. This is a classic I kind of wanted to read but not so much anymore after reading your review. Too bad this one was overly wordy and dull.

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    1. It could be me and my terrible taste. I'd recommend finding a library copy and seeing if it works better for you. I hope it does :)

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  4. I haven't read many classics or if I did it was so long ago that I don't remember lol

    Have you watched The Frankenstein Chronicles on Netflix yet?

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. Noooo, I hadn't heard of that! I'll have to go check it out.

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  5. I actually have never read this book but I've always wanted to do so. Now, maybe not :) It is the anniversary though and I saw a nice annotated one at the library so I guess never say never.

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    1. It's a bit difficult at times, but there were parts of it I really loved. I think it's worth the read.

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    2. That's my issue with classics - the wordy rambling and over dramatics! I'd rather not have to sit with a dictionary whilst reading. :(

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  6. I have this book on audio. (Not sure if it's the same narrator as the one you have, though.) I keep telling myself "You should read this!" and I keep finding anything else to read instead. LOL. I have read the kid's illustrated edition, though, does that count? *shifty*

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  7. I've never read the book but that's mainly down to having already seen too many film and TV versions of it already! I don't generally enjoy the classics so I've never really felt I needed to read it. I was always rooting for the monster!

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