Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Era: Romantic

Okay, let’s be completely honest, this isn’t one of the most interesting and engaging books ever written. It is, however, a very iconic piece of literature for many reasons. First, Frankenstein was one of the first true “horror” books ever written in this time period. It focused a lot on legitimate science instead of alchemy, which was different from most books in that era. The introduction of the tabula rasa, or blank slate, is also an interesting idea about how society shapes who we are.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect, however, is how this book was conceived. Mary Shelley and her friends were stuck inside a house during a rainy day, and decided to read ghost stories. Lord Byron then suggested that they all compete to see who could write the best horror story. This book was subsequently created- Mary Shelley’s first novel- and went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed literary works.

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Victor Frankenstein wants to defy the laws of nature. He wants to re-gift life to the dead and give the inanimate the chance to live. People say he can’t do it, but he’ll prove them all wrong soon enough.

When the creature is created, Victor is horrified with his work. “Translucent yellowish skin pulled so taut over the body that it barely disguised the workings of the arteries and muscles underneath; watery, glowing eyes, flowing black hair, black lips, and prominent white teeth.”

The monster, now in the wild and on the loose wreaks havoc like never seen before. When Victor asks that he stop this unjustified murder, the creature demands that Victor make him a woman so that he is not alone anymore. When Victor attempts to make the creature a mate, he cannot go through with it and destroys the half-created body- right in front of the creature.

Nobody is safe from the carnage that follows.

If you would like to read this book, you can purchase it here: Frankenstein

Book Review: La Vida es Sueño by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Hey everyone! Sorry that I haven’t posted at all for a very long time but I got caught up with a lot of work and also had a lot of debate tournaments in the last few months. Here’s the next book review!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction

Age Recommended: 14 and up

This book was part of a reading assignment that I had in English class recently. I enjoyed it immensely because of the way the author made the reader sympathize with the main character’s situation, even though he was portrayed in a bad light. This book was actually written during the Renaissance period around 1635 and was one of the more famous Spanish works.

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Segismundo has been trapped in a dungeon simce he was born. “A man among beasts and a beast among men”, he has nowhere to go and nobody to talk to except his jailer, Clotaldo.

However, one day, a young woman, Rosaura, and her servant stumble upon Segismundo when searching for a person. Segismundo immediately falls in love with Rosaura, with her being the first person that he has ever seen besides Clotaldo. He professes that since seeing her is death, not seeing her would give him something far worse, life, because giving life to an unfortunate man is like giving death to a fortunate one.

“pero véate yo y muera;
que no sé, rendido ya,
si el verte muerte me da.
el no verte qué me diera.
fuera, más que muerte fiera,
ira, rabia, y dolor fuerte;
fuera vida; de esta suerte
su rigor he ponderado,
pues, dar vida a un desdichado
es dar a un dichoso muerte.”

Soon after, Segismundo is freed from his jail cell as a test to see if he can control himself out of shackles or not. If he can, he will be King. But if not, he will see nothing but darkness for the rest of his days.

If you would like to read this book, you can purchase it here – this is a dual language version with both English and Spanish: Life Is a Dream/La Vida es Sueño