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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 November 2013
FRANKENSTEIN is a classic horror story. Recounting the tale of a scientist who plays God and creates his own 'human' only to then abandon his creation to his grotesque existence is not only horrific but also deeply affecting. If you haven't read the novel, I would urge you to. However, this review is more about the particular edition of the book, not the story.
Penguin are currently publishing classics as clothbound hardbacks, and FRANKENSTEIN is one of the latest to be released. I am so glad they have done so. I already have a selection of these clothbound classics and they truly are a delight to own. For one thing - and this is important to many true bibliophiles - the aesthetic of the book is just right. They look good either individually or collectively on a bookshelf. The design is simple yet stylish. The paper of the pages is also good quality; not too thick or too thin. With the addition of a ribbon marker, the effect is complete. As with all editions in the clothbound series, their copy of FRANKENSTEIN also benefits from a very good introduction, ideas for further reading as well as notes at the end of the book. For any book lover who appreciates the classics, this would make a very good gift.
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VINE VOICEon 22 March 2005
Victor grew up reading the works of Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Albertus Magnus, the alchemists of the time. Toss in a little natural philosophy (sciences) and you have the making of a monster. Or at least a being that after being spurned for looking ugly becomes ugly. So for revenge the creature decides unless Victor makes another (female this time) creature, that Victor will also suffer the loss of friends and relatives. What is victor to do? Bow to the wishes and needs of his creation? Or challenge it to the death? What would you do?

Although the concept of the monster is good, and the conflicts of the story well thought out, Shelly suffers from the writing style of the time. Many people do not finish the book as the language is stilted and verbose for example when was the last time you said, "Little did I then expect the calamity that was in a few moments to overwhelm me and extinguish in horror and despair all fear of ignominy of death."

Much of the book seems like travel log filler. More time describing the surroundings of Europe than the reason for traveling or just traveling. Many writers use traveling to reflect time passing or the character growing in stature or knowledge. In this story they just travel a lot.

This book is definitely worth plodding through for moviegoers. The record needs to be set strait. First shock is that the creator is named Victor Frankenstein; the creature is just "monster" not Frankenstein. And it is Victor that is backwards which added in him doing the impossible by not knowing any better. The monster is well read in "Sorrows of a Young Werther," "Paradise Lost," and Plutarch's "Lives." The debate (mixed with a few murders) rages on as to whether the monster was doing evil because of his nature or because he was spurned?
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on 20 April 2016
I read it out of curiosity. As the basis of so many horror films it has one basic idea. and that is dealt with in 1 chapter, if the rest is what psychology of the day was, well no wonder the empire fell.
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VINE VOICEon 1 June 2015
Victor grew up reading the works of Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Albertus Magnus, the alchemists of the time. Toss in a little natural philosophy (sciences) and you have the making of a monster. Or at least a being that after being spurned for looking ugly becomes ugly. So for revenge the creature decides unless Victor makes another (female this time) creature, that Victor will also suffer the loss of friends and relatives. What is victor to do? Bow to the wishes and needs of his creation? Or challenge it to the death? What would you do?

Although the concept of the monster is good, and the conflicts of the story well thought out, Shelly suffers from the writing style of the time. Many people do not finish the book as the language is stilted and verbose for example when was the last time you said, "Little did I then expect the calamity that was in a few moments to overwhelm me and extinguish in horror and despair all fear of ignominy of death."
Much of the book seems like travel log filler. More time describing the surroundings of Europe than the reason for traveling or just traveling. Many writers use traveling to reflect time passing or the character growing in stature or knowledge. In this story they just travel a lot.

This book is definitely worth plodding through for moviegoers. The record needs to be set strait. First shock is that the creator is named Victor Frankenstein; the creature is just "monster" not Frankenstein. And it is Victor that is backwards which added in him doing the impossible by not knowing any better. The monster is well read in "Sorrows of a Young Werther," "Paradise Lost," and Plutarch's "Lives." The debate (mixed with a few murders) rages on as to whether the monster was doing evil because of his nature or because he was spurned?
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on 16 September 2011
I don't wish to give a synopsis, simply a review of what to expect from the novel and its style.

As with many novels of the era it is written in the first person as Victor Frankenstein tells his tale to a listener. It is told mostly from his perspective, although he recounts conversations thereby presenting the view of his creature.

Shelley does a remarkable job of entering the psyche of her characters as different personalities and moreso as her opposite gender. She portrays their conflicting emotions, their personal motives and experiences whilst at the same time giving such wonderful scenic descriptions that you quite easily see the story unfolding in your mind's eye. You can almost physically feel the temperature and smell the air of the locations she depicts.

It is a tale of ambition and folly and addresses the moral issue of following a path with no thought for consequence. Whilst I believe she intended it to be a commentary on men, the same just as easily applies to women in the modern world and we can probably all draw comparison with something we've done in our lives that we later paid for dearly. Perhaps not in such drastic proportions though.

Frankenstein is very easy to read and although there are references to books and scholars we probably have no experience of, this is easily passed over for the points they make regardless of the reference. That would be the only stumbling block, if you are a reader driven, like Frankenstein himself, to acquire the knowledge to light every corner.

This is a novel well worth a read for the depth of the story telling, the delightful language and the strength of characterisation. If you have seen the Kenneth Brannagh film, you may be a little confused in the reading and, spoiler alert, at no point does Victor ever say 'It LIVES!!'.
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on 27 August 2011
Not the best conversion to Kindle, and the language is dated. This makes reading the book hard going at times although the quality of the characterisation and the fall from a happy life to desolation for Frankenstein is told in a riveting manner.

Having watched so many horror films showing Frankenstein as a monster, it was a surprise to read he is a different character in the original book. The story of a successful man who becomes obsessed with pushing back the science of his time, the hurt this causes for his creation and those he loves, and the final consequences of his actions really do mirror modern life with our greedy businessmen destroying all in their pursuit of wealth.

Some of the passages are long. This enables the characters to explain the despair they are feeling, and occasional joy, which is so important to the understanding of the book. Frankenstein created the monster but his remorse for doing so, dominates through the book. The monster, despised and threatened by mankind, reverts to survival with the inevitable consequences for those friends of Frankenstein that the monster comes across. Just like in modern society, when people cannot fit in and are badly treated, they rebel with terrible results.

I empathised with Frankenstein as he comes to terms with what he has done. His choice of whether to protect his family and friends at the expense of society - or vice versa - is an agonising one and you feel this as he narrates his tale. The monster, or daemon as he is referred to in the book, also deserves sympathy because he is what he is because of his creation and society's horror of his presence. I really felt that he needed the kindness that we can often provide to those in need. The other characters are the innocent who freely give their love to Frankenstein but pay the price with their lives. Their's is a touching story.

Read to understand Frankenstein's story as originally told, if you want your emotions tested as you balance good and evil with forgiveness, and if you want a good horror story!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 October 2011
Put all thoughts of Hammer Horror to one side as Mary Shelley's intriguing and provocative tale is nothing like the rather bad films and adaptations it has spawned. Structured as an embedded series of narratives told by Robert Walton, an explorer; Victor Frankenstein, a scientist who plays god; and the significantly unnamed `monster', this tale engages with conceptions of what it means to be human in the early part of the nineteenth century.

That Mary Shelley was herself pregnant at the time she wrote this adds another layer to this rich story of creator/progeny where the `father' is horrified by the `child' he has created. But this is also a book which engages with questions about innate `human' nature vs. nurture, and the extent to which we are created by our social and cultural environments.

That the `monster' itself is well-read and comes to understand its own creation, existence and desires through Milton's Paradise Lost is only one of the complexities of this book; and the increasing mutual identification between Frankenstein and his creation turns the expected hierarchy of man and monster on its head.

So it's certainly possible to simply read this as a chilling tale of gothic horror - but an interesting number of themes put to work here foreshadow Shriver's We Need To Talk About Kevin, and Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go.
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on 30 December 2012
I have several of editions of this for work and I would say this is my favourite. The print is a good size and the book is bound well, cheaper editions tend to crack the spine easily.

As for the novel, well it's a classic gothic tale. If you've never read it and like gothic, get reading! Written by Mary Shelley almost 200 years ago the style is a little stiff if you are unfamiliar with pre 1900 novels but it is still readable. The original tale of Frankenstein and his creation, Shelley delivers a powerful storyline, whilst raising issues about the nature of creation, responsibility and monstrosity. The narrative structure itself reflects the Gothic convention with a labyrinthine interweaving of narratives starting with Walton's journey of discovery that nearly mirrors Frankenstein's own journey.
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on 14 July 2011
A review of a classic on Kindle should really have two things to say: something about the text itself, and something about how it has been presented on Kindle.

Let's talk about the text, or the story if you will. Everyone knows about Frankenstein - or at least they think they do. No doubt, some know-it-all will tell you that Frankenstein ISN'T the name of the monster, but of the scientist that created him. Well, maybe... but the monster is never given a name of his own, so why not take the family name of his "father"? So, Frankenstein IS the monster after all... in fact, you could argue Victor is more monstrous than his creation. Obvious? Maybe, but perhaps not to everyone. You see, not everyone who thinks they know about Frankenstein actually knows as much as they think they do. Captain Walton? Who he? My only reason for going on this little de-familiarising ramble is this: Today, this novel is as powerful as ever. Simply as a horror story, it is pretty gripping, but the depth and subtlety of the themes are extraordinary. If you only ever read one classic, make this the one.

So, how does this particular version of the novel work on Kindle? Oxford have done brilliant job. The cover image is the same as the paperback, and all the extras that come with the DTB are here too, including the genuinely fascinating introduction. The text has been properly formatted for Kindle, there is a hyperlinked TOC, and it is a joy to use.

Excellent.
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on 8 October 2015
Firstly hats off to Mary Shelley for writing this book when she was 18. At 18, I was seldom doing anything more constructive than flipping beermats, and she manages to create Gothic horror and Science Fiction in one book whilst coping with famously unfortunate personal circumstances one one hand and fending off amorous poets with the other. Well done Mary, honestly.

However...the book and the audio-book combine to make this a real trial.

Simon Vance is a premium narrator, and his normal voice is fantastic, expressive and perfect for audio-books. However, the vast proportion of this book is read as Frankenstein retelling the story, Frankenstein apparently has a slightly dodgy but quite strong Transylvanian accent. I found this very wearing and a poor production choice, Imagine Dracula is eez telling you ze tail of a horeeefeec and monsterous creeeeture from ze depths of heell. After a while, I really just wanted him to talk normally please, so I can take something for this migraine.

To the book itself, wonderful ideas - I've just read 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' (Blade Runner) which has very similar questions raised 150 years later about whether mankind should create superior creatures in his/her own image. What duties they owe to those creatures, are they 'alive' and how they should be treated by society. Fantastic, thought provoking stuff.

However, the main two protagonists in the book Frankenstein and the monster garner very very little sympathy. They both behave in ways rather closely resembling two rather spoilt teenage girls. They are both creatures who take no proactive control of their worlds, they merely endlessly gnash and wail about how the world has done then harm, how they've done harm to themselves, who's unexpectedly or unfairly died lately, how everyone else is having fun and they're not, and blimey, how to make sure the other one is feeling significantly worse than they are. Frankenstein faints a lot, really, ridiculously, he has a lot of trouble with the vertical, and it tends to take him several months to recover each time. The monster lurks and feels sorry for himself, he is a magnificent lurker, perhaps the best lurker in literature I've ever come across. Unfortunately lurking and fainting aren't very interesting to repeatedly read about.

The style of writing is effusive, wonderful descriptions of scenery, weather, towns, people, poets, in fact almost everything that fails to move the story forward. Really, I actually found myself shouting at the audio book to get on with it as yet another Austrian landscape is described in excruciating detail as the monster does yet more lurking and whining.

Aside from that the characters behave illogically throughout (Frankenstein's choices are often just plainly stupid), miraculous co-incidences occur and the story moves at a snail's pace (via even more long winded fainting and lurking), all in ze remarkably zilly accent.

In summary some people love this book, most do in fact, and apart from the accent thing this is very well read, but I found it an excruciating ordeal I had to continue with to feel good about myself for completing it. Like a six hour walk around a poorly lit museum when on holiday.

Odds are you'll probably enjoy this more than me, I hope you do, it's a classic after all, but don't say you haven't been warned :)
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