Friday, September 6, 2013
Frankenstein: A Life Beyond, by Pete Planisek
"Ten years after the loss of his entire family to madness and death, Ernest Frankenstein finds himself compelled to return to the city of his birth, Geneva, in order to discover if his elder brother, Victor, might still be alive. Only Victor can provide the answers to questions, which have long plagued Ernest. The quest for answers will force Ernest to confront demons, both internal and external, from his past, which refuse to be at peace and which ultimately will endanger both he and his new family. Hunted across Europe their only hope may lie with a French spy, Ernest’s childhood friend, and a mysterious gypsy girl whose people believe that Ernest will lead humanity to its salvation or final destruction.
Frankenstein A Life Beyond by Pete Planisek is the first direct sequel to Mary Shelley’s iconic story, Frankenstein, which examined Victor Frankenstein’s quest to both create and kill an unnamed creature that ultimately destroys all but one member of the Frankenstein family, Victor’s brother, Ernest. Frankenstein A Life Beyond explores many of the issues left open by the original, while establishing new characters and mysteries."
This was a nice surprise for me. I really didn't expect this to live up to what I might hope for in a sequel to Mary Shelley's work, but it is a well-thought out and executed story.
First, the language of the novel matches Shelley's well, and that helps it to feel like a continuation of her story. Second, I loved that this book picks up right where Shelley left off. I thought it was a great choice to open with the sea captain, Walton, telling the story of Victor Frankenstein's death to his brother, since that was how Shelley ended her tale. I can tell that the author paid attention to themes from Shelley's work, and incorporated them into his as well. Like Frankenstein, this book tells the story through the use of narratives, and journal entries, and letters to other characters. It is a patchwork creation, just as Victor's monster was. There are themes of secrecy and dark knowledge, along with family legacy and fate.
The women in this book are similar to the passive, helpless victims of fate that Shelley created, with the exception of Abrielle, who is a bit more of a modern female heroine. The back story that the author created for Justine Moritz's character was absolutely heartbreaking, and Ernest Frankenstein's wife, Ailis, is a sad story as well. Baseria is sort of a combination character- she is helpless in a way because of her commitment to her family, but she longs for independence, and might be capable of it someday. Her story is unfinished though, so who knows what lies ahead for her.
My criticisms are relatively few. Because it does jump around from character to character and from narrative to letter, from past to present...sometimes it is a bit difficult to keep up in the beginning. Once you get a handle on all of the characters and settings, though, that straightens out. Otherwise, there were just times when I didn't agree with what Ernest did. Some of his decisions in the book seemed counter-intuitive. I found myself wondering at times what would make someone go one direction when it made more sense to head in the other.
But all in all, this was pretty darn good. If you never read Frankenstein, I don't know how much you would get out of this, but if you have and you loved it, then I think you will probably enjoy this too. This is just Book 1 of 3, so don't expect a full resolution at the end, either. You'll have to wait!
Book Website: http://www.enceladusliterary.com/?page_id=123