Date of Publication: 1818 (my edition: 2003 by Penguin Books)
Number of Pages: 225
Synopsis (from back cover): Obsessed with creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life with electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear. Mary Shelley’s chilling Gothic tale was conceived when she was only eighteen, living with her lover Percy Shelley near Byron’s villa on Lake Geneva. It would become the world’s most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity.
Review: I was lucky enough to be assigned this book in my Modern Europe class. It’s a quick read, moving along at a nice pace, but not jam-packed with too much action. Instead, this horror novel is one that reaches the reader on a deeper level. Victor takes an emotional journey, from the happiness and security of his childhood, to his fevered and single-minded pursuit of the creation of life, to the horror and despair at the realization of what his dream will cost him. He is the consummate Romantic hero: tragic, boldly and blindly following his own ambition, and agonizing over the loss of his own soul.
There was really only one thing that bothered me about this book. One is the fact that every time something tragic happens to Victor, he falls into a debilitating fever. I know that this sort of illness was a favorite of the Romantics, but after a while, it seemed formulaic. Other than that, the book is nearly perfect: tragic hero, sympathetic yet terrifying villain, beautiful and innocent heroine, and a landscape that is just as important to the story as Victor and his monster are. I would recommend this book to any fan of contemporary horror fiction, and also to any fan of Romantic fiction or poetry. Also, if you’re going to watch one of the many film adaptations of this book, I suggest watching Kenneth Branagh’s 1994 version, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Robert De Niro plays the monster, and you can’t get any better than that. Besides, it’s the one movie that stays almost completely true to Mary Shelley’s original story.