‘The monster is the real hero of the novel. Discuss.’ One of the many thorny essay questions set to this perennial school syllabus favourite. Written at the dawn of science fiction, crackling with horror, and strikingly ‘fettered to grief,’ 2018 marks 200 years since Frankenstein’s publication, an ideal moment to review this illuminating young students edition.
A quick internet search of Frankenstein books for kids, yields literally dozens of titles, from revision guides, through graphic novels, to a very sweet Ladybird edition for our littlest readers. The whole world recognises the alarmingly-featured hulk and his unhinged creator. This boldly jacketed edition is aimed at teenagers, who often encounter Frankenstein on their school reading lists.
Set at the end of the 18th century, the tale is told of a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, and the consequences of his obsessive pursuit of scientific knowledge at all costs. Consumed by the desire to ‘infuse animation into a lifeless body,’ Victor’s endless experiments become progressively more depraved, as he begins to frequent charnel houses, disturbing ‘…with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame.’
Teetering on the edge of lunacy, ego ablaze, Victor conducts a sort of Pick ‘n’ Mix of dead body parts, in order to construct and reanimate a whole new being. What could possibly go wrong?
Written during an era of great scientific, political and social change, this is all reflected within its turbulent pages. Teen students will realise that the monster of popular culture is far from Mary Shelley’s original creation. Misunderstood and outcast, her creature is ‘…miserable beyond all living things,’ and doomed to a lonely existence.
‘Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live?’
His personal tale is one of isolation, injustice and revenge, and your kids may be left wondering who the real monster of the story is. A challenging read, but this edition equips young readers admirably. It’s well annotated and contains some interesting additional material for budding essay writers.
This edition of Frankenstein is published by Alma Classics, 224 pages.