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: Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction

Age Recommended: 14 and up

This book was not one that I could finish in one sitting, just because of the sheer density and length of the book. I felt that the author could possibly have gotten the point across in fewer pages, even though the story was unique, and different from most that I have been reading.

I felt that the main character is blatantly sexist on multiple occasions, which is probably an accurate reflection of the time period this story is based in.

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Mahendra is a young man who refuses to marry until he meets his close friend’s fiancee and insists on marrying her.

Ashalata is a newly married but uneducated girl who wants nothing more than to please her husband, Mahendra.

Binodini is a very young woman who was recently widowed, and has to come to live in Mahendra’s house to keep Asha company while Mahendra is away studying.

However, Mahendra is a very fickle man who soon finds himself “in love” with Binodini, who thinks that this whole arrangement is inappropriate. Moreover, Mahendra’s mother is increasingly jealous of the female attention that he is receiving and attempts to devise plans to get rid of the two girls.

Binodini knows that Asha is too naive and innocent to be taken advantage of, and attempts to discourage Mahendra from pursuing herself, but the man who believes he’s in love again will stop at nothing to gain Binodini’s attention.

If you would like to read this book, you can purchase it here: Chokher Bali (English and Bengali Edition)

Book Review: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Time period: Realism

This is another book that I just finished in English class. I generally would not recommend this book to people who do not like dense reading, although the book isn’t very long. Fathers and Sons was written in 1862, during the realist era, and as such, focuses a lot on science and the different philosophical ideas arising during this time. The books explores nihilist ideals as well as an increased focus on science, which seems to be a recurring theme during this time period.

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Arkady and Bazarov are visiting Arkady’s father at his manor in a province in Russia. Arkady’s father welcomes the two boys into his home but his brother, Pavel, is taken aback by the introduction of nihilism, which both of the young boys seem to support.

After a few days home, Bazarov and Arkady go to a dance where Arkady meets a wealthy widow named Anna Odinstova. Originally infatuated with her, Arkady talks with her about many things, including Bazarov. Anna then invites the two of them over, but to Arkady’s dismay, talks only to Bazarov and dismisses Arkady to entertain her sister, Katya.

Not long after this does Bazarov realize that he has feelings for Anna. But Bazarov’s strong nihilist ideals and disbelief in love, and Anna’s unwillingness to fall in love again sets up obstacles that may never go away.

If you would like to read this book, you can purchase it here: Fathers and Sons (Oxford World’s Classics)

Book Review: Ida B by Katherine Hannigan

Rating : 4.4 out of 5 stars

Age Recommended: 8 and up

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Ida B. is a great book about the ups and downs of homeschooling. Katherine Hannigan shows how school can be great for some, while not so great for others. This book was really inspirational in terms of what a person could do when they put their mind to something.

Ida B. was a character whose ingenious ideas could change the world, and I found myself believing in her as much as her own parents did in the book. If we had more people like Ida B. in this world, it would make the world a much better place.

Ida B. is a girl who “quit” school in her mind the very day she started. She walked out of school at the end of day, and said ” Mama, this will not do.” I found this sentence very funny because it was coming out of the mouth of a kindergartner.

It was like they were keeping her in a dungeon. She sounded so defeated. Ida B.’s mother accompanied her to school the next day.

At the end of the day they both walked out with hunched over shoulders, and a defeated look on their face…

“Mama, this will not do.”

“I know.”