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5 Books like Frankenstein: What Makes a Man

Helen Maloney itcher‘Frankenstein’ is seen as one of the major forerunners of the sci-fi genre and his ‘monster’ is renowned for his suffering and maliciousness. Continue your exploration into the debate of man vs. monster in ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, ‘The Host’ and ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. Can you determine what separates man from beast? ~ Helen Maloney

A Man or a Monster?

Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust?

Everybody has heard of Frankenstein (though many confuse this name with the nameless monster) and the scientist who attempted to discover the secrets to life, thereby reanimating parts of corpses to create new life. He is horrified by what he has created, spurning it and setting the terrible and terrifying events in motion.

As well as the tormented characters of Frankenstein and his monstrous creation, ‘Frankenstein’ is also known for its philosophical musings, particularly on the nature of Man and good and evil. The following three books like ‘Frankenstein’ contain similar debates, as well as familiar sci-fi elements.

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Books Similar to ‘Frankenstein’…

‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ (Philip K. Dick, 1968)

Image Source: Wikimedia

It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity.

World wars have devastated the planet and the majority of Earth’s population have emigrated to other planets. Those who remain covet owning living creatures but most cannot afford them, so companies have instead manufactured synthetic versions of all manner of animals… and people.

Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter licensed to hunt down androids who have murdered their ‘masters’ and are hiding on Earth. A cornered android is extremely dangerous and soon he finds himself facing down 6 of the most advanced and lethal versions.

Why should you read this book? Simple, it’s the book ‘Blade Runner’ is based on and I find the empty, abandoned Earth and the life of its few remaining inhabitants fascinating.

Similarity Match: 90%
Like Frankenstein’s monster, the androids and our ‘hero’ reflect on what separates them from humans, however there is a lot more action and violence involved.

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‘The Host’ (Stephanie Meyer, 2008)

Image Source: Judyoz

It’s not the face, but the expressions on it. It’s not the voice, but what you say. It’s not how you look in that body, but the things you do with it. You are beautiful.

The Earth has been invaded and our bodies taken over by ‘souls’. Melanie refuses to give in; she has people waiting for her. Wanderer, the invading soul currently in control of her body, is fascinated by her memories of love and family. Together, they set out to return Melanie to her home.

Now a major motion picture, this book explores what makes us human and how to stay true to yourself no matter what, as well as a reminder to make sure to look below the surface before judging something.

Similarity Match: 80%
The Host’ contains many similar themes – loneliness, a journey, betrayal – but there is also more romance.

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‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ (Douglas Adams, 1979)

Image Source: Imgarcade

‘Life’, said Marvin dolefully, ‘loathe it or ignore it, you can’t like it.’

The Earth has been destroyed but Arthur Dent has been saved by his closest friend, who turns out to be an alien. His journey home commences, involving the search for the answer to life’s questions, a bureaucracy unlike anything we’ve seen, and a book full of interesting and useful tips for survival.

Who doesn’t want to read a book with depressed robots (I love Marvin!), doors that sigh, experiments run by mice and truly awful poetry? This is a true laugh-out-loud hilarious novel, written in Adams’ distinctive and eccentric style.

Similarity Match: 75%
Like ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Hitchhiker’s’ attempts to explore many of life’s big questions, yet in an undeniably entertaining way.

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If You Like ‘Frankenstein’, You Will Like…

If it’s more the darker and gothic elements of ‘Frankenstein’ which have inspired you, then these following books are likely to be right up your street. Still containing philosophical moments, debating the nature of things, they definitely fit the dark and brooding category.

‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ (Anne Bronte, 1848)

What is it that constitutes virtue, Mrs Graham? Is it the circumstance of being able and willing to resist temptation; or that of having no temptation to resist?

Mrs Graham and her son move into the gloomy Wildfell Hall and she soon begins to cause a stir in the community. Gilbert Markham is fascinated by her and her air of mystery, but it is only when she lets him read her diary that he (and we) truly understand.

This book had a powerful effect on me, much like ‘Frankenstein’. Helen Graham caught my interest and empathy immediately. There’s more discussion and criticism about the role of men and women in society, and Bronte is refreshingly honest about the depravity and ignorance of that time, especially if you consider that it was written by a woman of the time.

Rather than musings on the nature of Man as a species, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ explores the nature of man, the gender, and their differences to women, in this grim yet glorious Gothic tale.

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‘Hannibal Rising’ (Thomas Harris, 2006)

Image Source: Open Library

…It is not healing to see your childhood home, but it helps you measure whether you are broken, and how and why, assuming you want to know.

Hannibal Lector moves to France to live with his uncle and his wife, Lady Murasaki, after the terrors of living on the Eastern Front. There he heals and even flourishes, but the nightmares he witnessed and survived come back to haunt him, and he can’t resist Death’s call for long.

How is this like ‘Frankenstein’? I hear you ask. Well, Hannibal Lector is considered a monster by many, yet, like Shelley, Harris manages to make us empathise and sympathise with his monstrous creation. In my eyes, this makes it an excellent book like ‘Frankenstein’.

In ‘Hannibal Rising’, we follow Lector’s journey, just like we do in ‘Frankenstein’, but there is much more death and violence within his story.

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So, What Does Make a Man?

Hopefully, after reading these riveting and thought-provoking novels, you’ve formed your own ideas about what makes us who we are, and what separates the monsters from the men and the heroes.

I’d love to hear what reflections you have on the topic, as well as on the books I have chosen, so please comment below.

Hi, I′m Helen, I teach English in the UK and am a book addict (I′m serious - if I go too long without reading I get withdrawal symptoms!). I also love music, films, crafting, corresponding and video games. It is impossible for me to sit still unless I′m eating, holding a book or making something.
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