Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 2040
This Monstrous Thing
(Updated: November 12, 2015)
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
In this alternative world, it's 1816 and it's illegal for anyone to use machines to replace body limbs. Those that help these people by replacing body limbs with mechanical pieces are called 'Shadow Boys'. Two years ago, one Shadow Boy, Alasdair Finch's life takes a horrific turn. His beloved older brother Oliver is dead and his sweetheart Mary has left him. He longs to study at the university but one mistake of his past keeps him in Geneva.

After a terrible accident, Alasdair does the unthinkable--he brings him brother back from the dead. But Oliver is more monster than man. Then a book comes out, FRANKENSTEIN, which mirrors his and his brother's life. When his father is captured, Alasdair flees and seeks help from Dr. Geisler, who has his own plans.

What worked: This is a very entertaining twist on the FRANKENSTEIN tale complete with Gothic horror and a steampunk edge. I loved how in this alternative world, we see the impossible happen--a brother is able to use clockwork pieces to bring his dead brother back to life. The vivid images of this world are magical but also dark and horrific. This world discriminates against those who aren't completely human. There are more than a few scenes that show downright cruelty to those who don't fit in with that society. There's one scene of a young orphan girl who passes out pamphlets and tells of how an orphanage refuses her as she's not totally human. She's barefoot in the December cold and her mechanical leg is rusting. There's not much in the way of kindness as the police can turn on that too.

I really loved how we see another interpretation of Mary Shelly, the author of FRANKENSTEIN. Her life was scandalous at that time. Only in this novel, we see her through Alasdair's eyes. There's misplaced love and betrayal that at first shatters Alasdair's world but then strengthens him when he has to come to terms with his biggest challenge.

The love in this novel is more between two brothers and the lengths one would go to in order to right a wrong. The biggest question is whether bringing Oliver back to life was morally right. But another important question is should Mary be responsible for the lives lost due to her retelling of what she saw that fateful day when Alasdair brought his brother to life? Who in fact is the real Frankenstein? Oliver who ends up shut up in a deserted castle and shunned as being a monster? Or those who torment those that are 'different'?

Haunting retelling of Frankenstein with a dark, addictive twist.
Good Points
1. Intriguing retelling of Frankenstein
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