Frankenstein’s Science Project
Frankenstein’s Science Project
The room got darker and darker as the clouds rolled in. The sky was getting illuminated more and more frequently by lightning. Suddenly, a lightning bolt struck the kite. A huge surge of electricity traveled down the wire and jolted the heart of the creature. The whole body leaped into the air like a jumping bean.
Dr. F. and Igor stood over the creature and waited. The fingers on the left hand started to twitch.
“It's undead,” remarked Igor.
“I prefer the more positive view, Igor, and I would say that IT'S ALIVE,” responded Dr. F.
Suddenly the creature coughed up some green asparagus slime all over Igor and opened its eyes. It looks at Dr. F., raised its huge green arms in the air, and brought its torso up. It slowly opened its mouth and said, “Dada.”
This slim chapter book roughly follows Mary Shelley's original Frankenstein's plot, minus the murders committed by the monster and deeper existential questions. Set in the nineteenth century in Germany, Frankenstein's Science Project is a clunky piece of fiction with occasional glimmers of gross-out humour, cultural anachronisms meant to be sly in-jokes for the reader, and a happy ending for Frankenstein's monster.
The story unfolds with Dr. Frankenstein pondering his next great achievement and realizing that the creation of life is what he must attempt next. After a series of experiments, he orders his servant, Igor, to fetch body parts from a menu he provides. After ransacking a graveyard, a hospital, and a medical school, Igor obligingly provides them. Dr. Frankenstein proceeds with his gruesome experiment, and it succeeds (as described in the excerpt above). Frankie seems to be a helpless child, but he quickly learns to acquire language, walk, and groom himself. One day, he is so disturbed by his own reflection that he runs out of the castle and into the village where he frightens everyone he meets.
A young child is not afraid to befriend Frankie, but her family members arm themselves with weapons and chase him away when their make-believe game goes awry. Alone once again, Frankie enjoys the company of a blind old man in the forest whose soothing music enraptures Frankie and soothes his disgruntled spirit. This relationship, too, is short-lived as the blind man's son attacks Frankie and expels him from his father's home.
Frankie is inconsolable and frustrated by society's rejection of him. To help his creation, Dr. F. decides to create a companion for him, Francesca. Frankie and Francesca throw a Halloween party to celebrate, with the monsters highlighting their uniqueness in costumes we would recognize today. Francesca's curiosity about the outside world intensifies after the party, and so she nags Frankie to let her explore the world outside. One day, Frankie follows her and discovers she has fallen in love with a werewolf and no longer wants to be with him.
Brokenhearted, Frankie decides to strike north, working for an old farmer and furrier. He then goes further north and ends up stuck in a crevasse. A Yeti rescues him, and the two monsters confide in each other about humanity's shared hatred of them. The Yeti gives Frankie some advice about where to go – the North Pole. Unlike Shelley's monster, who ends up alone, mourning the death of his creator, Frankie discovers his true home to be amongst Santa and his elves. He eventually proves his worth in Santa's factory, and the narrative abruptly ends with Frankie as a factory foreman and settled down with a nice elf. Dr. F. writes Frankie a note about how well everyone is doing, and Frankie promises himself that he would visit his creator one day.
The episodic structure of the novel leaves little room for character development, and the rather flat prose, which has the potential for more depth, humour, and insight, leaves as much to be desired as the illustrations. Bjelica's amateurish line drawings are sorely lacking in skill of execution, reminiscent of bad clip art. As with many self-published titles, the production value of the book is low, thereby rendering another blow to book.
Frankenstein's Science Project demonstrates some of the perils of self-publishing. Without an editorial eye to guide and to challenge, Marcotte's story lacks the spark that jolted Frankie's monster into life. Please consider other spooky reads to supplement your library or home.
Ellen Wu is teen services librarian at Surrey Libraries' City Centre Library. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.