Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I bought this classic from a book sale last year. As a writer, you learn a lot from this book. Also, as this genre has come a long way since the early 19th century, and as we are often subjected to modern-age movies, novels or series that have much gory, gothic and horrifying stories than Frankenstein one might not be able to appreciate it entirely.

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Frankenstein is a science-fiction novel belonging to the Romantic Era*, written by Mary Shelly and published in the year 1818. You can buy from any bookstore and online shop or simply download a PDF file.

Prelude:

Mary Shelly is one of the earliest writers of the science fiction genre, and Frankenstein is probably  the first book in the genre to lack magic or fanciful elements and to be based on science alone. In fact, Frankenstein is also a progenitor to the horror genre in films. There is a lot of backstory to this particular book, also a few controversies, huge pile of speculations and the book had garnered a lot of rejection in the literary circles as well as the then society in general. Surely its Wikipedia page is worth the read…

Fun Fact: Mary Shelley was only 18 years old when she wrote this book from which probably spawned the modern science fiction genre.

While you read the book, it is apparent to you why it is regarded as a Classic; it’s perfect in so many aspects and as I have emphasised earlier, original in its idea. The prose is unexpectedly beautiful for a book whose subject is gore.

Content:

Victor Frankenstein is introduced to the world of alchemy and natural science by a few theoretical books written by scientists who lived thousands of years ago. He has marvelled at the wondrous workings of nature from a young age and develops a deep awe for these old-age scientists and their methods.

In his pursuit for knowledge, our genius scientist becomes a pioneer for a lot of things. His knowledge, his capabilities increase and with that his ambition too. He remains unrestricted and forays into different fields of science like chemistry and anatomy.

While working on dead bodies he figures out the secret to life. I am leaving out many details here but ultimately Dr.Frankenstein brings his vision to life. He is about to fall in love with his capabilities when he notices the hideousness of his creation, and is revolted by it.

The monster, upon realising that he has been shunned by his creator, sets out to hurt Dr.Frankenstein in every way that he was hurt, snatch away everything  from Dr. Frankenstein that he was denied.

Characters:

Well, you already know Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his Monster. The third main character is Robert Walton. Walton is a traveller, an explorer to be precise, and it is through his letter’s to his sister that we hear the story.

There is Dr.Frankenstein’s family, his love interest- Elizabeth, his friend- Henry, and a family in a remote village which are all secondary characters that drive the sub-plots.

I love how Mary Shelly brings every character to life; she describes their mannerisms, portrays their nature. You connect with them, you like them and you feel bad when she kills them off ( oopppss!Spoiler.My bad).

In fact, the only characters that are truly unlikeable are our tragic heroes Dr.Frankenstein and the monster. This book comes from the Romantic Era; the significant characteristics of this age were, firstly,the authors dwelled more on their character’s emotions & thoughts than their actions. Secondly, they had atleast one tragic hero, a guy who through his own tiny flaw or misjudgement or tiny misfortune ends up losing every good thing. The readers are left feeling sorry for him because apparently he paid a lot more than he should have.

Our hero and anti-hero are no different. I am sorry if I sound condescending. I personally feel the concept of a tragic hero, though interesting, the portrayal is shallow and at the end of it I just think- ” Bro, you had it coming…”

I am yet to meet a tragic hero that I really sympathize for. If you happen to know any, tell me about them.

Writing:

The prose is smart, eloquent and the imagery is…you see for yourself!!

“I [roamed] through the valley. I stood beside the sources of the Arveiron, which take their rise in a glacier, that with slow pace is advancing down from the summit of the hills, to barricade the valley. The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me; a few shattered pines were scattered around; and the solemn silence of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial Nature was broken only by the brawling waves, or the fall of some vast fragment, the thunder sound of the avalanche, or the cracking reverberated along the mountains of the accumulated ice, which, through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in their hands. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving. They elevated me from all littleness of feeling; and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillised it”

This is where Victor is right before he is going to confront the Monster. His state of mind and his emotions are often weaved in the writing compelling the readers to feel what the characters feel.

 

Conclusion:

It’s surprisingly refreshing. It dwells on emotions but hasn’t got an ounce of drama. And like I said earlier, it deals with gore and horror, but somehow is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

THE TIME-KEEPER by Mitch Albom

A penpal of mine introduced me to this book and the author. It sort of had a calming effect on me, like that of sea waves.

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The Time Keeper is an inspirational fiction novel written by Mitch Albom. It was first published in 2012 and has been in  reprint ever since. You can easily find the book anywhere in any part of the physical or virtual world.

Prelude:

Mitch Albom says that he wants to “provide hope and inspiration to his readers as they have provided to him.” And hope and inspiration are the essence of this book. With The Time Keeper he tries to discover the meaning of time.

When we think of inspirational books,whether fiction or non-fiction, we expect them to be preachy, unsparingly philosophical or downright unrelatable. I put the book down initially thinking it would be filled with cliches that mock the genre , vague reflections and rootless insights. I have read inspirational novels that made me feel like I have been listening to a self-important jerk for hours.

Well, we might even take it to be like one of Paulo Coelho’s books. But don’t. His books are sort-of mystical while The Time Keeper is magical.

Content:

The story is essentially about Father Time- the first person on Earth to measure time.who began to count everything from his own breathe to pebbles, sticks etc., and who eventually  ended up counting hours and minutes.

An Old Guy in long, white beard(read: Supreme One) is keeping a close watch on Father Time[DOR]. When Father Time, out of deep remorse, tries to turn back Time, The Old Guy strikes and locks away Father Time in a cave where he is to wait until a certain time. Ages and ages pass and he has filled the cave walls with his story and listened to billions of voices seeking more of time or less time., until one day he hears two voices[SARAH and VICTOR], both of them are trying to make the same folly as he did- alter time. He is released and has to save them so that he may be saved.

Writing:

In terms of flow of text and clarity it is just ten on ten. The book is shifting perspectives, it is moving back and forth from past, present and at times future too, but not in one instance it seems incoherent. What I truly love about Mitch Albom’s style; that which makes me read more of his work is this subtle and simple thing he does. He puts the wisdom before you just as it is. Just one simple sentence and it unleashes a stream of thoughts in your mind.

For example- “But a desperate heart will seduce the mind.”

Yeah, these are very obvious but presenting it in a way that is not explaining or persuading  but simply telling is what makes it impactful.

Coming to characters. Dor, Sarah and Victor are all complex and relatable. You may love them, dislike them or pity them, but you will feel connected to them.

Conclusion:

Overall, it is an engaging plot. You won’t probably come out of it with more appreciation for time, but you will love the time you will have spent on the book.

 

 

 

Spoiler-Free Book Reviews

I got books…as you can see… 
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I am reading them all the time. So, I thought I will review them.

Yup, as simple as that. I will try to be as critical/ analytic/ commentative {and at times expository too}  as possible, but I might be rabid and annoyingly “fangirly” for certain books. So, don’t mind please.

I speak about the style, their merit and the plot too. But not so much about the plot, after-all these are spoiler-free book reviews. Some reviews concentrate a lot on the plot, which kinda takes away the fun.This is what I am trying not to do- I am not going to rehash the story. What exactly do my book reviews do then? Well, you’ll have to read them to find out!:):)

Anyways, I hope you like. I would love you to leave your reviews about my book reviews!( No, do’t worry. I will avoid all lame jokes in the reviews. In fact, I will tie up my funny instincts, put a gag over it’s mouth and lock it in the closet.)

Have a good day!