"Frankenstein" the book is very different from the impressions of the story I'd gained from movie images. "Baron Von Frankenstein" is not a nobleman, nor a mature or near-elderly man. He's a very bright college student who gets obsessed with the idea of understanding the secret of the life force. There is no castle, no giant lab, no lightning storm. . . just a rented room in a student boarding house. In fact, Shelley's Frankenstein is adamant about sharing nothing about how he creates his monster, lest others share his sad fate.
The "monster" is the true hero of the book -- an ugly creature abandoned by his creator in the moment of his uncanny 'birth.' Although at first animal-like, he gradually grows into the sensibilities of a man, with an instinct to do good. But his sincere efforts to be good, and to win his way into community, are rebuffed at every turn, and these disappointments hurt him to the point of furious revenge.
Victor Frankenstein spends most of the book wallowing in guilt and depression, unable to either see the capacity for virtue in his creation or provide it with the means to have a peaceful existence. The monster, his twisted mirror, is a wretch battling desperately for companionship, love, knowledge, and justice.
This is definitely a novel written in another time. The story is revealed through the letters of an ambitious sea captain who stumbles into the final chapter of the larger story. Everything is related as memory, and there are far too many pages of Frankenstein moaning about his unhappiness. It's not an adventure story or a horror story or an action-adventure. Instead, it's a moral tale played out in fantastical circumstances, leaving the reader to judge who, in the end, is the true monster.