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Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

 TBR2010 - August Theme - Author(s) you’ve never read before

"You hate me but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself."

Frankenstein is as part of the pop culture zeitgeist as much as Dracula and all the sparkly goodness that descended from Stoker's creation. Mary Shelley is often cited as the mother of horror and science fiction and it's no doubt why from her wonderful first novel.

I'm a huge fan of the Universal movies from the 30s and still watch them to this day. Like many, my influence of horror and the two timeless monsters are from these movies. Only now am I getting to read the original sources that inspired the movies and I'm having a blast seeing how things changed over the ages.

Frankenstein is a novel of many layers. On the surface, it's a monster tale of creation gone wrong but deep down there is a plethora of philosophical ideas touching upon what it means to be human and the responsibility humans have to the creations they make. I was reminded of Philip K. Dick a lot while reading this. Shades of Roy Batty came back to me because the creature often held his 'father' and creator accountable for creating him just to sate his own desire to make and control something. The creature is a killer, a monster and often times despite his horrific descriptions, I felt sorry for him because he was like a child who was created and then let go into the world without a primer on the rights and wrongs or on how to live. He was a product of his own flawed human creator's upbringing and thus found beauty as much as darkness in the world, even at his own hands.

Listening to the audio with George Guidall was amazing. I loved the descriptions that the creature gave of his journey in the woods, the people he met, the experiences he had and all the feeling she gathered and explained back to Frankenstein. The ending as especially haunting with a final scene on Victor's deathbed as well as a last shocking appearance by the creature.

Some may find the read a bit slow and outdated but the themes are very much relevant to today's world in which science is developing at a phenomenal rate. The opening of this edition of the book had a female narrating Mary Shelley's life a little before and during the time she penned the story behind the legend with her husband Percy and company on that stormy night which set a nice mood for the timeframe of the story and the haunting tale. I highly recommend this book (especially the audio version) to all Frankenstein fans, classic horror fans and fans of gothic literature.

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