Frankenstein- Mary Shelley [Review]

“It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, collected the instruments of life around me that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.” (Frankenstein, Mary Shelley)

 

13096261992What a masterpiece! I have been meaning to read Frankenstein for so long and finally I did it. I should have done it ages ago. Now my gothic literature trilogy is done; Dracula, Frankenstein and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (review to come).

Frankenstein tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, the son of a prominent Swiss family who seems to have everything: wealth, youth, family and friends. The novel begins in the bleak North Pole, on a boat trapped in ice with Captain Robert Walton’s crew. Captain Walton finds Victor Frankenstein who is near death and chasing after a monster. While recovering Frankenstein narrates his story to Captain Walton.

Victor Frankenstein starts by telling the reader about his family and origins. He always had a burning desire for knowledge which takes him to Ingolstadt University in Germany and studies science. There his passion leads him to perform a deed as terrible as it is marvellous. He finds the secret of life itself and builds a man, a monster of a man and gives him life.  Soon Frankenstein realises what he has done and he is disgusted by his creation. He thinks of it as an abomination, rejects him, runs and hides from it.

The monster is never given a name. He is referred to as the monster throughout the novel and Frankenstein calls him everything from demon to ogre to wretch. Shelley’s depiction of the creature is marvellous. She could have made him look like a zombie-like monster or a terrifying creature, ’alien-looking’, but she presented him with a brilliant mind and a heart, a complicated heart but still a heart. All the monster wants is love, acceptance and to be understood. He exclaims to his creator ”I am not a monster. I have feelings just like you”.  The agony he feels comes across so real that you cannot help but feel sorry for the monster and hate Frankenstein for what he has done. I am going to admit that I for one feel sorry and pity for the monster and I can see where he is coming from. I do not like Victor Frankenstein one bit. He is arrogant, self-righteous and selfish. The monster is more sympathetic than his creator. All he wants is acceptance and love.

The fact that the monster is more likeable or more sympathetic than Frankenstein is one of the reasons that make this novel so great. It is not a horror story; it is a tragedy, a sad story. It explores the emotions that one who is rejected goes through and the actions that result from that rejection. The novel appears simple; scientist creates monster, monster goes on rapid murderous spree, scientist tries to stop it. However, by the end of the book the reader realises it is not that simple and is left wondering who was really evil. It is a serious story that shows the implications of science, of the consequences of someone playing god.41wmhy-xrxl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

The book is written as a series of narratives in the first person. One of the narratives is the monster’s perspective. In the middle of the book, the monster takes over detailing his first steps into the world and the terror he stirs in people.  It is daring of Mary Shelley to do this, but by doing this she is giving the monster a human side. The monster having been rejected by his creator and by the world flees. He is ‘born’ into a frightening and hostile world that immediately banishes him from everyone. Even his creator, who he sees as a father, rejects him and is scared of him. The monster, alone, flees and lives in a forest nearby a cottage. There he observes the family (that live there) and through them learns the way of man; reading, writing, speaking amongst other skills. One day he feels brave enough to present himself to the family hoping for acceptance. He does not get it and from that the real monster emerges. First, he is sad, then, he is enraged. The real monster is created by the hatred and frivolity of other humans. Banished and angry with humanity, the monster seeks revenge. He who has not done anything is called a monster and is feared because he is different. The monster falls victim to humanity’s prejudice and cruelty. His innocence has been corrupted by man and becomes the monster everyone thinks him to be.

It can be said that the story would have been different if people were less judgmental, a little less scared and more understanding. But then we would not have Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. How was Frankenstein created? Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she was 18 years old. One evening, she along with Lord Byron, her husband and poet Percy Shelley and John Polidori, while staying in a cottage near Geneva, decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story.  Mary Shelley wanting to prove her worth to Lord Byron spent nights thinking of a story. Eventually she came up with Frankenstein, creating a masterpiece and introducing to the literary world the most important monster that will haunt us until today. Definitely give it a read. It will be worth it. Trust me.

 

”I am not a monster. I have feelings just like you” (Frankenstein, Mary Shelley)

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The Bees by Laline Paull [Review]

 ‘Changes the way we see our world’  —SUNDAY TIMES

 ACCEPT. OBEY. SERVE.

This book had been on my shelf for quite a while. Recommended by a friend and selected to be part of Waterstones Book Club I finally decided to pick it up and read it. I have to say it was bizarrely amazing.

the bess laline paullWritten from the bee’s perspective we are introduced into the life within a bee hive. The book follows the story of Flora 717, a bee born a sanitation worker, the lowest on the hierarchy. She is only fit to clean the hive and dispose the dead bodies of her fellow sister bees . Flora is too big, too dark, she’s ugly by bee standards. However, she is strong, a quick learner, curious and can speak, while others of her caste are mute. Different is not usually allowed in Flora’s world. Any bee that is different or deformed is destroyed by the fertility police (Deformity is evil. Deformity is not permitted). A Sage, a high-ranking priestess, intervenes and saves Flora from death as she sees something in her, something different. Here is where the story of The Bees begins. From then Flora is moved to another ‘sector’ of the beehive, the Nursery.  Here, Flora is assigned to feed the newborns by producing Flow, royal jelly if you would like. From the Nursery, Flora moves on to become a forager, collecting pollen (food) for the hive.

Here Laline Paull gives us the wonderful scenes of the world outside the hive. We the readers can see the world through Flora and meet some interesting characters along the way; the wasps (the bees’ horrible cousins), the scheming spiders luring bees or any other insects to their beautiful woven silken webs, dirty flies who are not liked by anyone as they are seen as filthy and the lowest of the low of insects. Once Flora returns to the hives, she enters the dance hall where she explains to her fellow sisters of what she’s been up to, where she has been and what she has seen.

Flora lives to accept, obey and serve her beloved holy mother, the Queen. But, when her instinct to serve is overwhelmed by a fierce and deeply forbidden maternal love, she breaks the most sacred law of all…. only the Queen breeds! What happens to Flora next is an adventure you my fellow book lover will have to discover yourself.

Other than Flora and the rest of the female bees who dominate the beehive, we are introduced to the male bees who I believe add a bit of humour to the book. Preening, strutting drones who are hilarious; ”Think now of those foreign princesses waiting for us. How fatigued, how impatient for love must they be? Would you bind them in chastity a single moment longer? Or shall we fill our bellies with the strength of this hive, then free them with our swords?”.  I have to say the were interesting to say the least!

The Bees is a very strange good book. At first it was a bit weird reading a book from a bee’s point of view and being introduced to her world but slowly you get used to it and become part of that family praying you don’t get on the wrong side of the Sage priestesses. Laline Paull captures the suffocating and claustrophobic feel of the hive, as well as shows us how the bees are able to communicate with each other. The words ”Accept, Obey, and Serve” are echoed throughout the novel. It’s the guiding law and religion of the beehive.

Paull’s extensive research into the bees can be seen throughout the novel and you cannot help but be fascinated by the story and become engrossed with the life of a beehive, from feeding the newborns Flow to the dance hall where Forages dance their flight for their sisters.  After finishing the book I saw bees in a different light. I was sitting in the garden the other day and a bee was flying around, The Bees came instantly to mind and made me wonder whether I was looking at a forager. I definitely recommend this book to anyone. It is a very good read. Enjoy!

Demy no bleed.indd

 

 

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard [Review]

‘Red Queen is a clever blend of The Hunger Games, The Selection, Graceling and Divergent.” – Starbust

Taken from the back cover of the book:
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite isbn9781409155843warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

This is Reds against Silvers,  prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart….

If you enjoyed reading The Hunger Games, Graceling and I guess the Divergent series [have not read Divergent yet] you will like/love this book. My reason for picking up this copy was due to my love of both the Hunger Games series and the Graceling series.

Red Queen opens with a Roman style amphitheatre battle between two Silvers. Full of plot twists and betrayals, soon you don’t know who to trust. The world that Victoria Aveyard has created is wonderful and capturing. Red blooded slum dwellers are ruled by the silver blooded nobility; who each have different powers and those with the strongest powers hold the higher chairs of nobility.Sound familiar?

 Due to the fact that Mare, a Red, discovers that she has an ability of her own, the King forces her to play the role of a long-lost Silver princess. She is soon betrothed to the second prince, Maven, and she is watched constantly by the Queen. Mare is drawn further  into the Silver world and uses her position to help the Scarlet Guard (Red rebellion group) hence risking everything. Mare is a great main character; she is fearless, rebellious, headstrong and very brave. She would do anything for her family and friends. In that sense, she reminds us of Katniss Everdeen and Katsa.  As far as the Princes go, you do not know who to root for. Maven, the youngest, who constantly lives in the shadow of his older brother or Cal, the Prince who is next in line for the throne and a soldier. You can guess from the beginning of the novel there will be a love triangle or should a say a love square? If there is such a thing as Mare acquires three male admirers.

 You are immediately hooked from the first page. You feel for the Reds and hate the Silvers, apart from maybe the Princes. 😉 Soon you do not know who to trust, the King’s second son Maven or his first born and heir Cal or maybe neither! One thing you do know, is that you hate Queen Elara. I can see how Red Queen is being compared with the Hunger Games, with its corrupt ‘government’ and rebellious groups.  You can even argue that you see a bit of Game of Thrones in this series especially when it comes to Queen Elara, who you could say was modelled of Cersei Lannister? Maybe.

It is well-written, fast-faced and in certain points predictable. However, I am willing to give it a chance because I feel like it will be a series that I will love and I could not put it down once reading it. It is the first book in a trilogy, so there is plenty of room left for Victoria Aveyard to ”spread her wings” and create a really good series. I might not love it as much as The Hunger Games and Graceling, but close enough. It is worth reading if you get a chance and I feel it will become a favourite amongst young-adults… even to a some extent adults. 😛

 ‘Power is a dangerous game.’

Lost Horizon- James Hilton [Review]

What a fantastic little story. The first time I ever came across ‘Lost Horizon’ was when I 71lMxC8oPCLwas looking at my mother’s books. This wee book caught my attention and I asked her about it. She told me that it is a lovely wee story set in Shangri-La and it involves a small group of people who after a plane crash find themselves in Shangri-La. She then stopped and just told me that I should read it and I will love it. Of course she was right. I am going to be honest, that it took me awhile before I could pick up ‘Lost Horizon’, I think I needed to be in a certain mood. I am glad that I finally picked it up. After finishing it I wondered why it took me so long to read it! Now that I have, I am happy.

It’s a magical story and a well-loved classic. Following a plane crash, Conway, a British consul; Millison,  his deputy;  Miss Brinklow, a missionary; and Bernard, an American financier find themselves in the enigmatic snow-capped mountains of uncharted Tibet. They soon discover a seemingly perfect hidden community where they are welcome with gracious hospitality. Soon though, our travellers set out to discover the secret which seems to be hidden in the heart of Shangri-La.

The book opens with our lead character, Conway, who is found in a hospital by a friend and has no memory of anything before he came to be there. His friend takes him out and puts him on a boat back to England. During their voyage, Conway happens to listen a man playing Chopin on a piano and after playing himself an unknown piece of music (which is clearly Chopin’s), remembers what happens to him. He then tells his friend and soon after we, the readers, get to hear Conway’s story through his own written manuscript.

Conway’s story is a wondrous tale, a tale that goes past any reason and it’s up to you whether you believe him or not. The story of what happened to Conway and his fellow companions is an extraordinary one. James HIlton’s ability to transport the reader into the magical world of Shangri-La is nothing less than beautiful.  Throughout this adventure we are introduced to interesting and well-crafted characters such as Chang; a postulant at the lamasery, who welcomes our travellers to Shangri-La, and the ‘all-mighty’ High Lama who Conway eventually meets (an un-heard honour) and is told the history of Shangri-La.

Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. Hilton describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley. Janelle uses this because Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise, it’s seen as a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world. This is the refuge that Cindi Mayweather needs to escape from Metropolis

A beautiful story set deep within the Himalayans, sits a mysterious place known only to a few as Shangri-La.

‘Lost Horizon’ is a story well written, thought-provoking and a pleasure to read. An enchanting little book that I think everyone should read if they get the chance. I have read various different reviews concerning this book and one statement has stuck with me. It was remarked that ‘Lost Horizon’ is ”the type of book written to make the reader to think”. I have to agree; even after finishing this book James Hilton made me wonder about this ‘lost’ world.  The ending is left open (in my view) letting the reader decide whether Conway’s memories were real or not, and what happened to him after the end of the book.

It is a lovely wee story and I will end this post but saying this; James Hilton put a smile on my face with ‘Lost Horizon’ and I was still smiling even after finishing the last page.

”We rule with moderate strictness and in return we are satisfied with moderate obedience. And I think I can claim that our people are moderately sober, moderately chaste and moderately honest.” – Chang from Lost Horizon