Book Review: Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson

Title: Frankissstein

Author: Jeanette Winterson

Publisher: Grove Press

Publication Date: October 1, 2019

Genres: Sci-Fi

Shelves: Transgender

What the fuck did I just read? How the fuck did this get published? And, in what fucking universe does shit like this get longlisted for an award? There’s some small justice in that this travesty of fiction didn’t make the Booker shortlist, but that it got published – and that anybody feels it worth celebrating – is still a mystery.

I hated this book.

Let’s start with the surface flaws. This is a badly written book. Badly written, boring, pretentious, stream-of-consciousness nonsense. It’s not just bad, it’s comically bad, as if Jeanette Winterson were trying to make some kind of meta-statement with the narrative – except it would be a mistake to suggest that Frankissstein is that clever. The characters range from lame to offensive, and the dialogue from banal to ridiculous. It’s almost like Winterson were trying to anticipate the kind of writing that an artificially created hybrid life-form would construct except, again, the book is not that clever.

I loathed this book.

To go deeper – and, honestly, nothing about this book is what I would call deep – this is a grossly offensive, embarrassingly (and possibly dangerously) transphobic story. It trivializes being transgender as a whimsical choice, and fetishizes the entire transgender community as genital hybrids. To add insult to injury, Winterson tosses around pronouns like they’re randomly interchangeable, repeatedly deadnames the transgender protagonist, and heaps so much harassment on them (including repeated violent assaults) that you have no choice but to assume it’s the author’s own bias coming through.

I despised this book.

As for the sci-fi aspects of sex robots and human consciousness, they’re so badly handled that they’d be the most embarrassing part of any other novel. When we’re not being bored to tears with factoid info dumps we’re being completely grossed out by a vulgar millionaire who is only slightly less offensive than the book’s rapist boyfriend. Honestly, I’ve read trashy sexbot spankbank erotica that was more intelligent and tasteful than this. Even the lame, hamfisted attempts to further the faith-versus-science themes in Frankenstein and its literary contemporaries is rendered ridiculous and toothless through the mocking, racist caricature of an evangelical woman.

Did I mention I hate this book?

Because I did.

With a vengeance.

Rating: ZERO

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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