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I Belong

Review: Steampunk Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Title: Steampunk: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley

Illustrators: Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac

Genre: Steampunk

Series: Steampunk Classics (Book 2)

Publication Date: May 8, 2012

Format: Hardback, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0762444274 (Running Press)

ISBN-13: 978-0762444274 (Running Press)

Reviewed by: Sheila


Everyone is familiar with Mary Shelley’s classic novel, but no one has read it like this! Frankenstein is the long celebrated gothic tale of a science experiment gone awry. But in this brand-new edition, Shelley’s haunting horror story is transformed with the addition of steampunk-inspired art. With elaborate full-color illustrations throughout, this is a truly unique interpretation of Frankenstein. It’s a fresh look at a classic story, spiked with gadgets, fashion, and steam-powered machinery inspired by the hottest trend in science-fiction. Releasing just in time for summer reading, teens will enjoy this classic novel with an awesome steampunk twist!

Quick & Dirty: The classic tale of a monster and his maker.

Opening SentenceYou will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Mary Shelley’s dark tale of horror and destruction isn’t called a classic for nothing.  Whether you need to read this for school or you are just looking for something special on a dark and stormy night, Frankenstein is a good choice.  So what makes this book different from all the other copies out there?  The illustrations are steampunk inspired, bringing a unique perspective without altering the original story.

The tale of Viktor Frankenstein and his creation would take far more time and space than I have available to properly explain.  That said, I will endeavor to give you the basics.  It begins with a letter: A letter to a beloved sister about her brother’s adventures sailing in the Arctic Circle and the fortuitous meeting of one Victor Frankenstein.  Why is such a man traveling in such an inhospitable wasteland?  Here begins his sad and fatalistic tale.

Frankenstein goes to school.  Frankenstein obsesses over creating life.  Frankenstein creates life then is horrified by his creation.  Frankenstein abandons the monster and goes home.  The monster hunts his maker down and pleads his case for a mate of his own.  Frankenstein agrees under duress and when he backs out of the deal, the monster kills everyone that Viktor loves, including his wife.  Frankenstein declares war on the monster and hunts him down.  Frankenstein dies and the monster follows shortly after.

It is truly a sad and depressing tale without any happy ending.  While beautifully written, the true gem within the story is its philosophical themes.  What is life?  Who should decide who is worthy of humanity and mercy and who is not?  Where is the line between genius and madness?  Is the monster a product of nature or nurture?  Would this tale have had a happier ending if Frankenstein took responsibility for his creation and bestowed the knowledge the monster would need to survive in polite society?  Would the monster’s vengeance been satisfied if Frankenstein had made another like its self?  What if the escalation of supposed wrongs committed by both parties could have been prevented?  These are just a few of the questions that arise from this cautionary tale.  To be fair, stories of men tampering in things reserved for nature and God and it going horribly wrong makes for great reading.

The illustrations of this book are what set it apart from other editions of Frankenstein.  Following key areas, each scene is portrayed in Technicolor steampunk vision; mechanical workings and fantastical scenery with indescribably unique inventions.  In this case, the monster most definitely blends in well within this genre.  Each individual picture is set within a postcard style framing or like an old time picture.  Basic and Sumberac’s uses of stark colors invites the reader further into the world of Frankenstein and his foleys.  Most of the scenes chosen to be drawn are key to the novel itself, giving the reader yet another avenue to fuel their imagination.

Overall, this is a must read if you like fantasy or science fiction, if you can take the time and effort to get into the flowery prose.  Knowing the original stories of a genre gives us greater insight into current ones.  This particular version is well worth the money.  Not only do you get a great story, you also get great visual renditions of captivating scenes along the way.

Notable Scene:

“Wandering spirits, if indeed ye wander, and do not rest in your narrow beds, allow me this faint happiness, or take me, as your companion, away from the joys of life.”

Steampunk Classics Series:

1. Steampunk: Poe

2. Steampunk: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

3. Steampunk: H.G. Wells

FTC Advisory: Running Press graciously provided me with a copy of Steampunk: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payments I receive are hugs and kisses from my little boys.

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