This is not really a book review. Considering how old and famous this particular novel is, there’s no point in reviewing it. These are my thoughts as a writer.
In January I set myself the goal to read at least one novel every month I’m not writing. Not only have I met that goal so far, but I surpassed it. Far as I can remember, this is the first time I’ve ever read two novels in one month. It’s certainly the first time I read through one within 24 hours of starting it. Anyway, on with my thoughts.
What needs to be said? There’s a reason Frankenstein is a classic. While the slow-building tension is much different than most modern books, it’s a very good read. It’s a shame that there’s never been a well-known film adaptation that’s actually faithful to the original. It subtly questions which is the true monster, Dr. Frankenstein or his creation. The creation, often incorrectly referred to as Frankenstein, is far more intelligent than the 1930’s Universal monster movie. He even learns to talk through observing a family for a year, and shows kindness by helping them with yard work and firewood gathering. The ultimate tragedy is that he must hide, because his monstrous appearance disturbs everyone who sees him, including Dr. Frankenstein.
While it’s a horror piece, there’s nothing scary about it. This is just an intelligently written book. It’s also a relatively quick read – about the length of the average first-time published novel of this genre. If you’re into books of this style, you should read it if you haven’t already.
As a writer, this was worth reading. It did an especially good job telling the monster’s tale as he learned through observation. It struck a great balance between his observations, his thoughts and a passage of time. There was the right mix of specific details and generalizations. While I don’t often use flashbacks in the series I’m writing, using this section as a sort-of guide could be helpful when I do. They would be shortened and different of course.
The first book I read last year was Dracula by Bram Stoker, and it was reassuring that the grammar and speech patterns feel relatively modern in both of these books. Sure, there are different words and expressions, but there was nothing too different from today. This is reassuring to me since the first book in my series takes place in the First World War, and with the exception of a 400-year-old character who has a tendency of frequently quoting Shakespeare to the annoyance of his daughter, they all speak with modern patterns.
It was a bit odd that, since the book is sort-of in journal format, that the writer would have such a perfect memory of everything being said. The monster’s tale of his journey is 5 chapters long, yet Dr. Frankenstein writes it down word for word. Then again, that was the style back then, and Dracula went even further with characters’ impossibly good memories.
I’m glad I read this, both because it was a good book and because of how well-handled the flashbacks were.
I should also point out that I didn’t really like the original Frankenstein movie all that much. Save for a couple scenes, I found it boring. And I enjoyed all of the 1930 Dracula related classics. By making the monster a mindless, childlike beast, they lost most of the book’s complexities. Although the lightning bolt did add drama to the re-animation scene, whereas in the book, the monster just kind of awakes once Frankenstein’s chemicals enter its body.