Why Frankenstein Is Important to YA Lit

Happy National Frankenstein Day! & Some YA Takes on Frankenstein

Mary Shelley

by REBECCA, August 30, 2013

National Frankenstein Day is celebrated on Mary Shelley‘s birthday (August 30th, 1797), and honors her most famous (and arguably the most famous) literary monster. And I love literary monsters.

But what a lot of people forget is that Frankenstein has a lot of the elements that make YA lit great. After all, Mary Shelley did write the original story when she was just nineteen.

Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyIt tells the story of how a kid becomes obsessed with something and turns it into his life. Victor Frankenstein’s backstory is one of my favorite elements of the novel. His early relationships with his adopted sister and his two younger brothers are the backdrop for Victor’s growing obsession with science. It’s when he sees lightning strike a tree outside his family’s home in Geneva that Victor first gets the idea of lightning as an energy force, which he’ll later use to animate his creature. His interest in natural science is as singleminded as any teen’s obsession with a band or a comic book. And, though he’s captivated by Elizabeth when he’s older, it’s still his childhood friend, Henry Clerval, that is his strongest relationship throughout the book.

But the thing that always struck me as most YA-similar is the way that Victor’s monomaniacal pursuit of his obsession ends up producing something totally out of his control.

So, it’s no wonder that a number of young adult authors have taken Frankenstein as the jumping off point for YA novels of their own! Here are a few.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series by Kenneth Oppel

This delightful series by Kenneth Oppel tells the story of Victor and his twin brother and their mutual love of Elizabeth. When his twin falls ill, Victor must go on a quest to find the ingredients for the elixir of life. Loved it! My review of This Dark Endeavor is HERE.

Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn

Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters by Suzanne Weyn

This retelling features Victor Frankenstein’s twin daughters who inherit their father’s castle—one of them wants to throw lavish parties, but the other . . . the other wants to pick up where daddy left off.

Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley

Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley

In this adaptation, a young street urchin befriends the creature and accompanies him on his search for Victor Frankenstein.

iFrankenstein by Bekka Black

iFrankenstein by Bekka Black

This is a Frankenstein told through texts, tweets, emails, etc. Victor is homeschooled and has set his sights on winning a prestigious science prize and going to a tech university. He creates a bot, which he codes with a self-extending version of his personality and puts it on the internet. Soon, though, it seems like this e-doppelgänger has developed a personality (and a plan) of its own—one that may threaten not only Victor, but all humanity.

Broken by A.E. Rought Tainted by A.E. Rought

Broken series by A.E. Rought

Emma Gentry’s boyfriend died tragically last year and she’s barely holding it together. But when she meets Adam Franks, the son of a renowned surgeon, she’s intrigued—especially when it seems like Adam knows things about her that only her dead boyfriend knew . . . And when Emma stumbles on Adam’s father’s experiments, she knows that something is very, very wrong with Adam—or is he Adam? My complete review of this ridiculous disappointment is HERE.

Adam Franks by Peter Adam Salomon

Henry Franks by Peter Adam Salomon

Henry Franks had a terrible accident and his father put him back together again. He thinks. But he can’t be totally sure because he can’t remember anything. His nightmares and a serial killer on the loose make him a little hesitant to trust that everything his father says about his recovery is true. Creepy!

Do you have a favorite Frankenstein-related book or movie? Tell me in the comments. Happy National Frankenstein Day!



  1. Margalit

     /  August 30, 2013

    Terrific post! And you make a great case for “Frankenstein”‘s classic YA elements! Of all the choices out there, the first thing that came to mind was a wild-eyed Gene Wilder exclaiming “It’s alive!” in Mel Brooks’ classic movie “Young Frankenstein.” (Runner up: Elsa Lanchester and her amazing lightning hair in “Bride of.”)

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