Mary Shelley’s classic gets a colorful but clumsy app treatment.
How to make this legendary horror story appealing for young readers? The creators of this app emphasize moody sounds (thunderstorms are abundant) and splashy line art that makes Frankenstein’s monster eerie but unintimidating—indeed, the creature looks a little cartoonish. But problems abound here, starting with the story itself. The default language for the app, created by a Brazilian company, is Portuguese, and the English version reads like a poor translation, full of inelegant phrasing and the occasional ungrammatical tangle. (“My professor would go on saying if mankind is able to name the stars, forge lightning and control the tides, it's because at some point their.”) The plot is loyal to the original, tracking the doctor and monster’s travels through Europe and to the North Pole, but it’s an artless retelling, thick with plot summary and spasms of melodrama. One wonders why they did not simply abridge Shelley's original, public-domain text. The obvious opportunities to interact with the app are limited and not especially stimulating: open a letter, unroll a map. The not-so-obvious opportunities border on comical: Readers can move around a specimen jar containing a human kidney, and clicking on Dr. Frankenstein’s head on one page makes him lament, “No, no, no.” On another page, tapping the monster’s head elicits a “bwah-ha-ha!” cackle, replacing any chance of scares with B-movie hokum.
For all its good intentions, terrifyingly mediocre. (iPad storybook app. 10-12)