On a blistery night, sitting around a fireplace with some close friends, Mary Shelly was challenged to come up with a ghost story to share with her frozen companions. Only eighteen years at the time, Shelly wrote a novel that changed the genre of fantasy and horror forever, paving the way for other creative literary twists like fan fiction.
And it’s complete shit.
One of the most important skills that distinguishes great authors from bad ones is the ability to use nuance to convey complex ideas. Throughout this novel, Shelly proves her writing style to be as subtle as a hickey at a family reunion. For example, she takes the time to explain the “radiant form [rising] from among the trees” in one of the Creature’s stories is actually the moon. I mean, what else was it supposed to be? It’s the 18th century in the middle of the night, could it have maybe been the headlights of Frankenstein’s new Jeep Wrangler off-roading towards him??
To be fair, Shelly didn’t fall flat on all notes of classic fan fiction. She included sentences with clear gay subtext, like “Clerval desired the intercourse of the men of genius and talent.” Also scattered throughout the novel are catchy one liners that grab the reader’s attention, like “I was as the ass and the lap dog.”
No matter how compelling these few pros are, the ultimate truth is that at the end of the day, every single goddamn character of this book is an emo. Victor becomes so extreme when explaining his struggles he literally describes himself as jealous of the freedom a peasant enjoys “when his family have been massacred before his eyes, his cottage burnt, his lands laid waste, and he is turned adrift, homeless, penniless, and alone, but free.” Instead of a ghost story, Victor Frankenstein seems more like the Zombie AU of My Immortal, the best fan fic of all time.
It gets so bad that at some points you’re actually cheering for both Victor and the monster to die, and when Frankenstein asks himself “why did I not die?” I found myself screaming at my book:
Since this obviously needs some work, I took matters in my own hands and came up with four suggestions to make the ship a little more cannon.
1. If this was real fan fiction, where’s the smut? The only thing even remotely resembling romantic courting is this weird chasing scene Victor and the monster have over several days, and instead of erotic poetry or love notes he carves weird shit onto trees like “Prepare! your toils only begin; wrap yourself in furs, and provide food, for we shall soon enter upon a journey where your sufferings will satisfy my everlasting hatred” Needless to say I was not aroused by that at all, we want Frankenstein to be wearing LESS clothes not more 😉2. Put in some more scenarios that are relatable to teens like us. I can see it now, the monster bumping into Frankenstein with his giant deformed arms and knocking his books down, Frankenstein’s hand brushing across the monster’s slimy one, the two lock eyes in the busy high school hallway and fall in love…so much better. I got goosebumps just reading it!3. Another cute scenario would be when Victor is dying of hypothermia in the Arctic tundra, the monster comes and cuddles with him in the bobsled. It’s like The Fault in Our Stars, except with a goth and a bunch of body parts sewn together. Now THAT’S a clever twist.4. The writing is too dense and serious. Instead of dumping your feelings out on paper, try using some cute Korean relationship terms like “oppa~” and “unnie!” I mean, if you spend years hiding in the wood stalking a pretty girl, that must mean you’re pretty shy shy shy :3
Let’s be real for a second, have you actually read Frankenstein? If so, I honestly feel sorry for you. This book gets 2/10 because without it there wouldn’t have been genius fan fiction lines like”this is chorong but it feels choright” would never have been created. But, with some more historically accurate changes like the ones I came up with, it can be on it’s way to being the next 10080!
Alex has an honorary doctorate from the Kim Dan Institute of Higher Learning in Book Reviews. He is also working on becoming ordained as a minister online.