I went in with an open mind, I swear. I've never seen any movie adaptations of it or anything. The most I knew about the Frankenstein story was that a dude creates a monster out of dead folks. That's it.
I had no idea, for instance, that Victor Frankenstein is the First Original Emo Kid. He creates his monster, all right. Then, the second it comes to life, he decides he hates it and he shouldn't have made it. He proceeds to spend the rest of the book wangsting about it: "Oh, everything bad that's happening to me is my fault because I created that horrible demon!"
Well, no, not exactly. Everything bad that's happening to you is your fault because you created that horrible demon and immediately abandoned it. If you'd stuck around and educated him and showed to him that, in spite of his unpleasant appearance, someone did care about him, he wouldn't have run around killing people.
The monster doesn't really show up after his creation 'til the middle of the book, where he monologues for six or seven chapters about what he's been up to the past couple of years. I never would have guessed, based on what I know of Universal's Frankenstein, that the monster not only speaks, but is as "eloquent" and long winded as everybody else in the book.
During his seven chapter ramble, we get to find out what led him to murder: "Nobody likes me." So the monster's a bit of an Emo Kid, too.
Anyway, the monster offers Victor the chance to stop his (the monster's) murderous ways and the doctor, rather than just do it so everyone around him will stop dying, whines and complains and whinges and eventually doesn't do it because he's too busy dwelling on the "what ifs" to realize the "for certains." Namely: If You Build It, He Will Stop Murdering Members Of Your Family.
Mary Shelley is the master of eighty gajillion word sentences that don't actually tell you anything. The book is nearly impossible to follow, and only really started making sense when I started to imagine Victor Frankenstein with Jim Parsons' voice. Once he became Doctor Sheldon Frankenstein he was a lot easier to understand.
Also, I am sick and tired of people talking about how things "made them wretched." It's apparently the only synonym for "depressed" that Mary Shelley knew, and she used it at least once every three pages. The word "depressed" shows up a total of zero times. I'm pretty sure the same goes for good, old fashioned "sad."
My final complaint about the book is a little uncertain because it has to deal with foreshadowing. Basically, she was lousy at it. So lousy, in fact, that I wonder if she was really trying to foreshadow, or if she was actually flat out telling you "This is what's going to happen a few chapters from now."
For instance, at one point Doctor Frankenstein is talking about how enthusiastic his traveling companion was, then says "And where does he now exist? Is this gentle and lovely being lost for ever? ... No, it is not thus; your form so divinely wrought...has decayed, but your spirit still visits and consoles your unhappy friend." Golly gosh, I wonder what's going to happen to that guy? He doesn't get killed for another three or four chapters, but any surprise that I would have felt at his death was completely squashed dozens of pages before it happened.
Were people so dumb in the 1700s that they could be beaten over the head with clumsy foreshadowing and still be shocked by the outcome? Am I just a cynic who can see plot twists a mile away? Or was she just lousy at hinting?
I can honestly say, with all due respect to Mary Shelley, that Frankenstein bites. Reading the novel has cured me of any interest in seeing any film adaptation of the story. Two hundred pages of a guy whining and complaining about something he did, that he could have easily fixed, is not my idea of a good time.
End of line.