About My Book Reviews

Friday, May 24, 2019

Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

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Title: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

Author: Kiersten White

Published: 2018

Genre: General Fiction

Grade Level: Young Adult

-Movie Rating: PG-13

(This review will only be over the first half)

Blurb (from goodreads):

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

My Scores:

Writing Style: Solid

Overall, I love the writing style. I knew that I would love it from the very first sentence. “Lightning clawed across the sky, tracing veins through the clouds and marking the pulse of the universe itself.”

I also love the way it included outdated words to reflect the time period, despite being a young adult novel.

However, I gave it a score of ‘solid’ rather than ‘top notch’ for two reasons. First, because of the myriad times she uses ‘had had,’ and starts her sentences with a conjunction (which, to me, is an indicator of lazy writing). Second, I found the way that she used most of her similes in order to reflect opposites to be very clunky.

Also, just as a side note, this novel does require (or at least assumes) that the reader is familiar with the original work, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Characters: Memorable

I truly love the complexity of the characters. The were dark, mostly unreliable, and, most of all, interesting.

Our MC was Elizabeth Frankenstein is completely unlike her original character in Frankenstein. Instead of sweet she was manipulative, instead of na├»ve she was cunning, instead of gentle she was cut-throat. She was much more willing to ask forgiveness than permission. It was interesting to have a ‘heroine’ like her in a young adult novel because at times the audience wasn’t exactly comfortable endorsing her desired outcomes. 

Plot: Predictable

The main fault of this book, and the reason why I just couldn’t seem to finish it, is the lack of an engaging plot. As interesting as the characters are and as solid as the writing is, I just couldn’t seem to get emotionally involved about what happened next.  

Analyzing this book actually helped me understand a lot about my own writings and helped me see that this is the missing element to my own work. I also came to realize that my own personal belief is that the plot is truly the most important element to any novel. Others, such as Jordan Harvey, make a strong case that the most important element is engaging and interesting characters. However, I would argue that you are more likely to finish a book with a good plot, rather than a book with complex characters.

Overall: Boring

Overall, the main failing of this book for me was the lack of an engaging plot. That’s why I was only able to read the first half of the novel. While it had a solid writing style and complex characters, I couldn’t get myself engaged as to what came next in the story.

Goodreads Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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