2018 is the 200th Anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

200 years ago, Mary Shelley penned a horror story that would not only last the test of time but would also make us think about the nature of monsters – not an easy task.

I first read Frankenstein at school. When you’re young, its easy to be afraid of monsters, to shy away and not dig any deeper than the skin they wear and the acts they commit. It wasn’t until I was much older that I saw Frankenstein’s creation for what it was, the product of yet another monster.

I hope I’m not spoiling the book/ movies for anyone by saying this… although the monster commits atrocious acts, his creator perhaps is the bigger monster of the two. Lead by arrogance and selfishness; he achieves his dream of creating life, only to shun the life he has created. This can happen to many people, to be driven and passionate about something, only to get it and feel the energy that has been sustaining you for so long begin to ebb and die.

The monster, although grotesque and made up of a mish-mash of criminal parts, doesn’t start off evil. He actually does some good, that is, before he’s shunned yet again; this time by society. Dr Frankenstein has created something that simply does not belong and, as the psychologist, Maslow pointed out in his Hierarchy of Needs, to feel you belong is central to anyone’s well-being, even a creature whose every limb sports pot-luck DNA.

It makes me wonder if Mary Shelley knew the impact of her book, which it wouldn’t be just the terrifying tale of a dark and stormy night if she would have written it differently. Perhaps give it a happy ending so that readers can go away feeling that there is some good in the world? Probably not. Most horrors end, well horribly. Happy endings are reserved for fictional romance and children’s books. As an author myself, I can’t help but consider the impact of the story if Dr Frankenstein had realised what he had done and attended as the monster had asked. Or even better, he hadn’t run from the creature at first sight, but instead had loved and cared for it?

In the UK, Sky Atlantic had a series called Penny Dreadful. The premise was that monsters and myths were alive and well and living in Victorian London. Although the series, by the end, dropped a little of it’s entertainment value, it boasted a Dr Victor Frankenstein and his monster as part of the cast and explored their relationship after what would have been the end of Shelley’s book. If you haven’t seen this series, I’d highly recommend digging into the box sets; there’s more than just Frankenstein and his monster to get your teeth into.

What are your thoughts on this literary classic? Let me know below…

Advertisements

Doing the zombie shuffle – Zombies in YA literature

img_0443_v2I find zombies scary – there I admit it. I always have done. And I can tell you why; we are just one mad scientist away from zombies becoming real. Zombies worry me, and movies aside, they are certainly not new to literature.

I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at school. It’s only when you get into the nitty gritty of this book you realise it was one of the first ever zombie novels. The creature, albeit more sentient than your average ‘braaaains’ screeching shuffler, is a re-animated corpse. Considered a ‘flawed creation’ by Dr Frankenstein, the creature has to contend with some serious abandonment issues, loneliness (after all zombies are pack creatures) and some rather vengeful thoughts. All in all, the zombie in question doesn’t act much like the zombies we’re use to today.

Moving quickly through the years to Carrie Ryan’s Forrest of Hands & Teeth we find Mary, the protagonist, struggling to free herself from a predictable YA love triangle while avoiding the ‘Unconsercrated’. The name of the zombies in itself echoes the book’s theme of religion; but apart from that, they seem to lumber around the forest being said hands and teeth. The zombies provide only one author objective: they are the threat that seeks to harm the main characters. The only zombie character that comes to ‘life’ is the fast and slightly vengeful, Gabrielle – who seems to retain some of her former personality and is hell-bent on killing Mary for allowing her to die.

Darren Shan’s Zom B uses zombies to unite its characters. One of the themes of this book is racism and yob-like behaviour. Although by its title, it’s a zombie book, the shambling flesh-munching creatures serve as danger and a catalyst for character development. They unite the survivors – regardless of their misguided beliefs.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion did something extraordinary with zombies – he made them the romantic lead. The book is written the first person from R’s point of view. It was a bold move that paid off and put zombies in a different light altogether. After that, Lisa Habel’s Dearly Departed also took zombies firmly into the romance genre.

Now it would seem that zombies are not just evolving but contorting into a new type of ‘monster’. Maybe it would be more accurate to say they are going back to their gothic character-driven roots. Who’s to say that if Dr Frankenstein had given his monster a bride that it would have gone very differently for him, and his loved ones.

As a YA urban fantasy writer, I love zombies, and am, to a degree, guilty myself of simply inserting them into my story as a wall of rotting flesh that relentlessly rolls towards my heroes – I did, though, introduce a new dynamic in my series, Battle of the Undead. It’s vampires VS zombies. So what happens when a vampire becomes infected? A Vambie or a Zompire? Find out now with the first in the series, Bad Blood:

Evernight Teen   Amazon US     Amazon UK   Barnes & Noble   Nook    Amazon Canada   Amazon Australia