Frankenstein

By Dean Koontz

1,226,305 ratings - 3.82* vote

This third book in the King's Way Press Definitive Classics Series features the 1831 edition of the classic Gothic horror novel Frankenstein, an introduction by bestselling author Dean Koontz, an essay by acclaimed author Ray Garton and amazing artwork by award-winning artists Glenn Chadbourne and Alex McVey! A must have addition to any classic literature collection. This third book in the King's Way Press Definitive Classics Series features the 1831 edition of the classic Gothic horror

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Book details

Paperback, 306 pages
April 22nd 2016 by King's Way Press

(first published 1818)

Original Title
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus
ISBN
0692701419 (ISBN13: 9780692701416)

Community Reviews

Anne

So.
I finished it.

Warning:
If you are a fan of classic literature and/or are utterly devoid of a sense of humor this review may not be for you.
Also:
Yes, I realize that I'm a moron with zero literary credibility. So, stop reading right now if the sound of an idiot whistling out of their asshole bothers you too terribly. Sure, you can comment below and tell me how stupid I am, but it probably won't make me a better person. Or will it...?

description

I've always wondered what the real Frankenstein story was like...and now I know.
Sadly, sometimes the fantasy is better than the reality.
And the reality is, this book is a big steaming pile of poo.

It's an old-timey horror story, right?
Not so much.
I mean, I wasn't expecting it to actually be scary, but I thought it might be slightly creepy. Unfortunately, the only horror in the story centered around me having to keep turning the pages.
Unless...
Beware mortal! You will DIE of boredom! Oooga-Booga-Booga!
Yep. Truly frightening.

description

It starts like this:
An upper-crust guy sails off to the Arctic to make discoveries, and to pass the time he writes to his sister. Supposedly, he's been sailing around on whaling ships for several years. And he's been proven an invaluable resource by other captains.
So I'm assuming he's a pretty crusty ol' sailor at this point.
Pay attention, because this is where Shelly proves that she knows nothing about men...
So this guy goes on and on in these letters to his sister about how he wishes on every star that he could find a BFF at sea. After a few (too many) letters, they pull a half-frozen Frankensicle out of the water.
Aaaaand here's what our salty sea dog has to say about the waterlogged mad scientist...
"Blah, blah, blah...his full-toned voice swells in my ears; his lustrous eyes dwell on me with all their melancholy sweetness...blah, blah, blah..."
Lustrous eyes?! No (straight) sailor ever, in the history of the world, EVER referred to another dude's eyes as lustrous.
Ever.
And I know what you're thinking.
Well, Anne, maybe this character was gay. Didn't think about that, didja?!
Actually, yes. Yes, I did.
The only problem with that theory is that NONE of the male characters in this book sounded remotely male.
Ladies, do you remember that time in your life (probably around middle or high school), when you thought that guys actually had the same sort of thought waves running through their heads that we do? You know, before you realized that the really don't care about...well, all of the things that we do? You thought that while they were laughing at the booger their idiot friend just flicked across the room, something deeper was stirring in their mind. It just had to be!
I'm not sure when it happens, but at some point, every woman finally realizes the (fairly obvious) truth.
Men aren't women.
That booger was the funniest thing ever, and nothing was stirring around in them other than maybe some gas.
And that's ok.
Fart-lighting and long distance loogie hawking contests aside, they can pretty darn cool.
But this author was too young to realize that.
My personal opinion is that Mary was probably fairly sheltered when it came to real men. She was a teenage girl apparently running around with a bunch of artsy-fartsy dudes. Much like today, I would imagine these junior emos were probably blowing poetic smoke up her young ass in the high hopes of getting into her pants.
Although it's possible I'm totally misreading the situation.

description

Anyway, Frank tells his story, and Sea Dog writes it all down for his sister.
In excruciating detail.
Rivers, flowers, rocks, mountain tops...agonizingly cataloged. And the weather? God forbid a breeze blows through the story without at least a paragraph devoted to the way it felt on his skin or affected his mood!
And speaking of Frankenstein's mood.
I don't think I've ever had the pleasure of reading about a character this spineless before. What a pussy! He didn't talk so much as he whined.
And the swooning!
He was like one of those freaking Fainting Goats!
I can't even count how many times he blacked out and fell over. Of course, then he would get feverish and need "a period of convalescence" to recover.
Again, every episode was recounted with incredible attention to detail.
I'm thrilled that I never had to miss a moment of his sweaty brow getting daubed with water!

Randomly Inserted Fun Fact:
The monster quoted Milton in Paradise Lost.
Shockingly, I only know this because it was in the appendix, and not because I have any real-life experience with reading that one.

description

Was this the most painfully unnecessary book I've read this year?
Yes.
Is there a deeper moral to this story?
Yes.
Some would say, that the monster is a product of a society that refuses to accept someone who is different. Or maybe that Victor Frankenstein was the real monster for not realizing that he had a duty to parent and care for his creation? Perhaps it is meant to point out our obsession with perfection, and our willingness to disregard people who don't meet the standards of beauty as non-human?
Some might say any of those things.
I, however, learned a far different lesson from Frankenstein.
And it's this...
Trust no one.
Not even someone who (just an example) has been your Best Friend for decades!
Let's read a classic, Anne. It'll be fun, Anne. We can call each other with updates, Anne. It'll be just like a book club, Anne. Tee-hee!
Liar, liar! Pants on fire!
I read this whole God-awful book, and you quit after 10 pages!
I'm telling your mom!

Anyway.
Here's the quote that sums up my experience with Frankenstein:

"Blah, blah, blah...in all the misery I imagined and dreaded, I did not conceive the hundredth part of the anguish I was destined to endure."

description

Emily May

“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”
-From the 1994 movie

The worst thing about this novel is how distorted it has become by constant movie adaptations and misinformed ideas about the nature of Frankenstein and his "monster". For years, like many others, I thought Frankenstein was the name of that slightly green dude with the bolts in his neck. Nuh-uh.

Did Frankenstein scare me? Did it have me staying awake and sleeping with the light on, jumping at every slight creak in the house? Was I terrified of the monster and technology and the dangers of playing God? No. Because the beauty of this story is that it isn't the one so many people think it is. Which is almost my favourite thing about it. This book is not a Halloween kind of story with Halloween kind of monsters. This story is heartbreakingly sad.
“...once I falsely hoped to meet the beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding.”

The book offers many interesting avenues of philosophical exploration if one wishes to ponder such things. For example, allusions to religion and Genesis, possible criticisms of using science to "play God", and the relationship between creator and creation. All of these things interest me, yes, but it is the painfully human part of this book that has always so deeply affected me.

Because the sad thing, the really sad thing, is that pretty much everyone has heard of Frankenstein's monster... but so many don't know how human the character is. Created as a scientific experiment by an overly ambitious man, he comes into a frightening and hostile world that immediately rejects him on sight. Even the man who made him cannot look upon his creation without feeling horror. It's that same thing that gets me in books every time: things could have been so different. If people had just been a little less judgmental, a little less scared, and a little more understanding.

This being, created from different parts of corpses, seeks love and finds hatred, so he instead decides to embrace it. Fuelled by his own rage at the unfairness of the world, he gradually turns towards evil.

He belongs in my own little mental category with the likes of Heathcliff and Erik (aka The Phantom of the Opera). Scared, angry villains who were made so by their own unfortunate circumstances. The kind of characters you simultaneously hate and love, but most of all hope they find some kind of peace.

So call it science-fiction, if you want. Call it horror, if you must. But this story is brimming with some of the most realistic and almost unbearably moving human emotion that I have ever read.

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Hannah

No stars. That's right. Zero, zip. nada.

It's been almost 30 years since I've detested a book this much. I didn't think anything could be worse then Kafka's The Metamorphosis. Seems I'm never too old to be wrong. This time, I don't have the excuse that I was forced to read this for high school lit. class. Oh no, this time I read this of my own volition and for fun. Yeah, fun. Kinda like sticking bamboo shoots between my fingernails type of fun. Watching paint dry fun. Going to an Air Supply concert fun.

OK, to be fair, I need to tell you what I liked about this....

Well, Mary Shelley was a teen when she wrote this. Color me impressed. At 19 I was just looking for my next college boyfriend, not penning the great English classic. Kudos to Mary for that.

Otherwise, I can't think of anything to admire in this book, apart from the fact that it's the only book in my reading history where I actually noted EVERY SINGLE PAGE NUMBER and mentally counted down the time I'd be finished.

Why did I persist, you may ask? Well, at the point where the pain became mind numbing, I decided to channel my inner John McCain and just survive the torture. Figured it would make me a better, stronger reader. Might even make me enjoy a re-read of Breaking Dawn....(well, no it wouldn't, but you get the idea).

Frankenstein is a classic alright. A classic melodrama. Complete with a wimpy, vaporish, trembling prima donna main character and a pseudo monster whose only sin is being uglier then Bernie Madoff in cell block D. After the upteenth tremble/jerk/gasp/faint/start from our mad scientist Victor Frankenstein, I could only sign in relief that he wasn't a Rabbi about to perform a bris circumcism - oy vey!

Were we supposed to be outraged at the monster's killing spree? By the books end, I was merely miffed that the creature murdered the wrong Frankenstein sibling. He would have saved himself a good deal of traveling (and saved me a good deal of suffering) had he snuffed out his maker before he could high-tail it out of the birthing room.

I'm sure that the fans of this book will say that I didn't understand the deeper, symbolic nuances of this book, and I'm sure that they are right. At this point in my life, all I know is what I like and don't like in a book, and as far as I'm concerned, this book is unadulterated, mind-numbing crap. But that's just me. Your mileage will vary (as I sincerely hope it does). As for my own mileage, it can best be compared to driving a Ford Pinto in the Indy 500...


EDIT
Due to the efforts of a few Kool-ade drinking trolls who have gotten their big girl/big boy panties in a wad over an almost 200 year old book and can't comment nicely on my review, I am suspending all future comments.

Don't like it? Blame the navel grazing trolls for not accepting the concept of a PERSONAL OPINION.

Sean Barrs

Some books teach you something new each time you revisit them.

I picked up the tragically wonderful Frankenstein for a fifth time this week, and I was totally mesmerised by the descriptive language used to describe the natural world.

In all my previous readings, I focused on all the classic tropes of man and monster though I never considered the importance of the serene beauty that surrounds the story. The natural world dominates the background of the novel. It’s there, like a pervading monster that lingers in the darkest reaches of the mind.

What struck me most about it was the fact that both Victor and his creation long for a real life, a life where one is truly alive. And they both ponder what this means at length, reaching the same conclusion: to go completely nomad. They both wish to live a life free of burden and complications, no money, no commitments and no responsibility. They just want to be totally free in the wilderness with the ultimate goal of finding happiness by looking after their most immediate and natural desires.

And for me this says a great deal about society, not just the society in which this was written, but society in general: how many of us feel truly alive?


Original Review

Let’s have a party Victor. Let’s get together and celebrate all things Gothic, and dark, and wonderful. Let’s have it in an attic in an old house in the middle of a thunderstorm, and then afterwards let’s go to the graveyard with our shovels and our body bags. Sounds good doesn’t it Victor? We could then create our own doppelgängers from the corpses of criminals and geniuses. Then we can abandon our marvellous creation to fend for itself with his childlike innocence, and then wonder why it goes so horribly wrong and blows up in our faces.

Ahh..Victor you silly, brilliant, man. On second thought we probably shouldn’t have that party.

Because if we did it would end in blood

description

Yes, lots of blood: the blood of everyone you love, the blood of all your family Victor. You blame the monster, but you are his creator. You should have taught him the ways of the world and guided his first steps. The things you two could have accomplished together. So I ask you this Victor, who is the real monster? Is it the creature that has gone on a murderous rampage or it you? You are the man who played at god and was horrified at the consequence. You judged your creation by his physical appearance, which was more a reflection of your vain soul. Ahh..Victor you silly, brilliant, man. Surely you don’t wonder why the monster revenged himself upon you?

“I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel...”

Indeed, the real monster of this novel is Victor Frankenstein, and not his monstrous creation. The creature is a monster on the outside but Victor is on the inside, which is a form much worse. By abandoning the creature he has taught him to become what his appearance is. The first human experience he receives is rejection based upon his physicality. His own creator recoils in disgust from him. He cannot be blamed for his actions if all he has been taught is negative emotion, he will only respond in one way. He is innocent and childlike but also a savage brute. These are two things that should never be put together. Woe to Victor Frankenstein’s family.

“There is love in me the likes of which you've never seen. There is rage in me the likes of which should never escape. If I am not satisfied in the one, I will indulge the other.”

description

Mary Shelley raises questions of the danger of knowledge, and shows a probable consequence of trying to play god; the novel portrays nineteen century fears for the rising field of science and knowledge and questions how far it could go. Indeed, in this case Victor takes on the role of a God by creating new life. She also shows us what can happen to a man if he so driven by this thirst for knowledge and how it will ultimately lead to a fall. Victor reminds me somewhat of Doctor Faustus (The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus) in this regard. Faustus is a man who sold his soul to Lucifer for unlimited knowledge in the form of arcane magic. Victor, like Faustus, has stopped at nothing to gain his goal, but in the end is ultimately dissatisfied with the result.

Suffice to say, I simply adore this book as you may have gathered from my ramblings. I think this, alongside Dracula, are amongst the strongest representations of Gothic literature. Furthermore, I have a real soft spot for epistolary means of storytelling. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s the stronger sense of intimacy you fell with the characters as you see their words on the page rather than an impartial narrators. You see inside their heads more and understand their motifs and feelings.

My favourite quote:

"This was then the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction, and as a recompense I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound which shattered the flesh and bone. The feelings of kindness and gentleness which I had entertained but a few moments before gave place to hellish rage and gnashing of teeth. Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind.

Listen to the passion, to the intellect and witness such a wasted opportunity. Victor, you’re a silly, silly, man.

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Kat

I think I find Mary Shelley and the way in which this book came to be far more interesting than the actual text, not gonna lie. That said, genuinely glad I read this for the classic horror context & I definitely vibed with everyone's EXTREME! LEVELS!! OF EMOTION!!! (victor frankenstein chill the fuck out challenge lol)

There’s a lot to ponder re: humanity, isolation, evil, etc. (we don’t need to unpack it all...this is a goodreads review not a high school classroom)

I’m mostly excited that now I can finally enjoy all the fun modern adaptations that are out there (junji ito’s frankenstein i’m comin for youuuuuuuuu)

3.5 stars

Bill Kerwin


It's been fifty years since I had read Frankenstein, and, now—after a recent second reading—I am pleased to know that the pleasures of that first reading have been revived. Once again--just as it was in my teens--I was thrilled by the first glimpse of the immense figure of the monster, driving his sled across the arctic ice, and marveled at the artful use of narrative frames within frame, each subsequent frame leading us closer to the heart of the novel, until we hear the alienated yet articulate voice of the creature himself. In addition, I admired the equally artful way the novel moves backward through the same frames until we again reach the arctic landscape which is the scene of the novel's beginning...and its end.

This time through, I was particularly struck with how Mary must have been influenced by the novels of her father. The relentless hounding of one man by another who feels his life has been poisoned by that man's irresponsible curiosity is a theme taken straight out of Godwin's Caleb Williams, and the cautionary account of a monomaniac who gradually deprives himself of the satisfactions of family, friends and love in pursuit of an intellectual ideal is reminiscent of the alchemist of St. Leon. Her prose also is like her father's in her ability to make delicate philosophical distinctions and express abstract ideas, but she is a much better writer than he: her sentences are more elegant and disciplined, and her descriptive details more aptly chosen and her scenes more effectively realized.

The conclusion of the novel seems hasty and incomplete, but perhaps that is because the concept of Frankenstein is so revolutionary that no conclusion could have seemed satisfactory. At any rate, this fine novel has given birth to a host of descendants, and—unlike Victor Frankenstein—is a worthy parent of its many diverse creations.

Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)

This was awesome. I listened to an audiobook on YouTube (as it is under the public domain). You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuyEa.... It was great. The narrator did a great job of building the atmosphere and excitement in the story. I always love reading the original stories behind some very iconic pop culture figures. Frankenstein is obviously incredibly popular. It was great to read and do a little bit of a personal independent study on (major nerd here). The perfect Halloween read!

emma

Don’t get why everyone spends so much time talking about “the theme of science versus nature” and how this is “the world’s first science fiction novel” when clearly this is the world’s pre-eminent text on the subject of the dire consequences of procrastination.

But whatever.

This book rules.

First off, it’s very funny to imagine old-timey 1800s people being scared by this. It’s in the same vein as thinking of that urban legend about the people who watched the first movie screaming when the train races toward them. “AAAAAH! I AM IN A THEATER, BUT I’M ABOUT TO GET HIT BY A TRAIN!!! HERE IT COMES! TELL MY WIFE I LOVE HER!”

I highly recommend reading it through that lens. Just thinking about that original audience who thought this was a horror. “Oh, my stars! A creature of most unholy origin! I daren’t think of it!” Idiots.

Again, I digress.

This is so beautifully written. It really forces you to slow down and take the story in, just so you don’t miss a gorgeous line - which in turn makes you appreciate how many great and beautifully executed themes there are at play.

Count me impressed.

But again, I’m mostly just thinkin’ bout how #relatable Frankenstein is.

And also the fact that I can Finally I can be one of those assholes who’s like “Frankenstein is the SCIENTIST, not the monster!!!!”

I’m living the dream.

Bottom line: This is nonstop fun and everyone should have (read: read) it.

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currently-reading updates

can already relate to victor frankenstein as i, too, create massive problems and then avoid dealing with them until the repercussions threaten to destroy my life and even then am kinda like "ok but do i have to"

Matthew

REREAD UPDATE - September 2018:

One of my bookclubs (Click to check out Reading List Completists) is reading this for September 2018. I figure it was a good time for a reread since it was one of my favorites and it has been over 20 years since I read it.

I did enjoy it again this time and it stands up to the 5 star review and designation of classic. There were a few slow parts - mainly when Dr. Frankenstein would stop the narrative to wax poetical about something - but, not enough t take a way from my overall enjoyment.

I still recommend this for everyone and be sure to check out my full original review below.

ORIGINAL REVIEW:

This is definitely one of my favorite books I was required to read in High School. Also, it is my favorite of the classic horror novels. It is perfectly written, suspenseful, and is a bit more thought provoking than scary. One of the best ways I can compare it to other classic horror novels is to Dracula - which I read recently. Dracula has so much repetitive filler that you do not find in Frankenstein, which is the main reason I find Frankenstein to be a more enjoyable book.

Also, I would say that this is more a novel of the human condition than an actual horror novel. Some terrifying things happen, but it is the monster within all of us that may end up being more terrifying!

Funny side story: when I read this in High School, it was around the same time that the Kenneth Branaugh adaptation came out at the theaters. We were all encouraged to go see it and found it pretty close to the source material. What was amusing was that Time Magazine had a review of the movie bashing it as untrue to the source material and how disappointed Shelley would be that the Boris Karlovian depiction of a lurching, flattop monster with bolts in its neck was ignored for a more serious drama movie. WHAT!? Time Magazine, for goodness sakes, published an article that claims to know the content of the book but is completely wrong and does it while bashing a movie that did a pretty good job with it!? I mean, it it is okay if you prefer the old time movie version of Frankenstein - and it is a classic - but to make definitive statements that are completely wrong in what is supposed to be a well thought of publication (not your typical tabloid supermarket checkout fodder), that is just too much!

We need a copy editor over here!

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