Frankenstein: Prodigal Son * Dean Koontz

Embark in a journey so fantastic it had to be written in 4 books to reach its end. This is one of Koontz’s best efforts in years. He does not rewrite the story of Frankenstein, rather, he builds on it.

FrankensteinBook1
frankenstein-06‘Prodigal Son’ is the first book in a modern trilogy about Frankenstein and his monster. It is 200 years after the monster has been created and it turns out that Mary Shelley’s book was based on near fact. The monster has retreated to a monastery, but he must leave his sanctuary when he discovers that the man he knew as Frankenstein is still alive and that young women are being found murdered with body parts missing. Can the monster survive in modern day New Orleans to hunt down his former master? With the police on the hunt for a serial killer a 6ft 4 man made out of corpses could be their prime suspect!

I was not too sure about this novel before I read it, but it actually contains some interesting ideas that move the Frankenstein story on.

It is the present day and Dr. Frankenstein is alive and well and continuing his efforts. His goal is more clarified. He is no tragic figure, but an evil man bent on building a race of perfect beings that will replace humanity. Over the two hundred years since the events portrayed in Mary Shelley’s book (which, in an nice twist, is explained as a semi-historical account based on legends and hearsay), Dr. Frankenstein has amassed a fortune and a vast biotech empire. Through modern genetics and science, he no longer has to piece together his creations from dead humans. He grows them and programs them with directives and information. He and his creations bide their time, infiltrate humanity, and await the time to strike openly.

The Doctor is now interested in creating cloned creatures and this fits with modern knowledge. I really enjoyed the storylines that followed the master, the monster and the police (detective Carson O’Connor and her partner, Michael Maddison). If the book had only followed these paths it could easily be a 4 star book. However, we are also given a couple of additional storylines that are not as strong and detract from the action.

The book is a quick read, with 4-5 page chapters dealing with one sequence of events, the moving to another. Despite this, it does not come across choppy. The writers keep the pace going while making the narrative clear.

Opposing these efforts is Dr. Frakenstein’s first creation. The Monster still lives, but has become more and more human while his creator has become less. Koontz and Anderson do a great job of portraying the monster as a suffering man, noble in spirit yet malformed in body. His path and mission cross paths with two homocide detectives on the trail of one of the New Race who has become a serial killer after he realizes that his programing and superior genetics has left him empty, missing something that humans seem to possess.

Victor’s new race is faulty, his conception of a human without feelings and only desire order and cleanliness is flawed at its core. Lacking originality, invention and basically being made a copy of a non-perfect being, Victor’s creation take order into obsession, being maniacal and with a strong desire for suicide that they cannot fulfill due to their conditioning as servants.
A servant does not own anything, not even their own lives.

Koontz and Anderson’s decision to place the story in New Orleans was a stroke of genius. They do a good job of capturing the mood of what is perhaps America’s most foreign, haunted city. The food, the history, the music, the graveyards. All are effecitvely portrayed and woven into the story.

Favourite Parts: The way that Deucalion explains the fabric of reality and the way he can jump from a place on Earth to another.
Disgusting parts: When Victor rapes Erika four and kills her and then goes on to taking Erika five out of the tank and subjects her to the same abuse. The second thing that I hated was the food that Victor ate – baby rats? or new born hairless rodents of a sort.

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Final grade: 4/5

 

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