It's Alive!

A Novel

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
232 Pages
Reviewed on 06/09/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

It's Alive! by Julian David Stone takes you into a fascinating and enthralling era behind one of the most iconic films in Hollywood. The very day he is going to be named vice president of Universal Pictures, Junior Laemmle is having a panic attack—the last thing he needs at such a crucial moment when he is just a step closer to the icing on the cake. He has been an instrumental figure in the success of producing the film Dracula, and he believes that he has rightfully earned his father’s approval to take the helm at a major film production company. But things go in a direction that Junior least expects. He has been spending a lot of time making his dad see things the same way, but Carl Laemmle Sr. is old school and prefers to stick to the tried and tested. He has doubts about the commercial appeal of Frankenstein. Production and casting issues add to Junior’s dilemma as the story becomes more intense in reaching its climactic point.

Reading Julian David Stone is like reading T.C. Boyle in the sense that Stone has a similar penchant for meticulous details and research when it comes to writing a period story. It is at the very beginning of Junior’s panic attack that the story and characters begin to develop. Junior has a very pronounced point of view and Stone delivers it convincingly. All the people he works with and his relationship with his father, despite being filled with tension, feel natural and believable. These are all strengths that give this novel its appeal. It is never easy to write a historical or period novel, but Stone is successful by creating convincing characters and placing them in situations that strongly reflect reality. It’s Alive! is an engrossing must-read that you should include in your reading list.

Pikasho Deka

It's Alive! is a historical fiction novel showcasing the tumultuous events that occurred leading up to the production of the 1931 Hollywood hit, Frankenstein. Written by Julian David Stone, the book follows Carl Laemmle Jr., head producer at Universal Pictures and son of its founder. Carl is determined to take the studio into the future with bold new ideas at the dawn of the era of talking pictures. When his father comes to the west coast, Carl mistakenly assumes it's to make him the vice president of the studio. Instead, his father is there to admonish him for the rising costs and delays in the production of Frankenstein. With a miffed director and a proven star refusing to be a part of the movie, can Carl find his monster and make Frankenstein a resounding success?

Providing a rare glimpse into the making of one of the most revolutionary movies of its time, It's Alive! is a fascinating read that transports readers to early 30s-era Hollywood, a place filled with frustrated studio execs, temperamental stars, visionary directors, and much more. Julian David Stone captures the essence of Hollywood perfectly, at a time when talking pictures had just begun to grab audiences and where heavy investment in movies was still seen as a huge risk by the studios. With realistic characters and a captivating plot, Stone's narrative hooks you in from the first page and refuses to let go until the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to both historical fiction aficionados and movie buffs.

Cecelia Hopkins

It’s Alive! by Julian David Stone follows Junior Laemmle through a tumultuous few days as he struggles to please his father, qualify for appointment as vice president of Universal Pictures, placate his girlfriend, and commence filming Frankenstein. The return of his father, Carl Laemmle Sr., threatens to trigger Junior’s anxiety attacks. He dodges a nosy reporter and greets his father at the gate to start the celebration of his father’s twenty-five years in the film business. Disappointingly, Laemmle Senior fails to announce the anticipated promotion. Despite the success of Dracula, Carl Laemmle appears stubbornly opposed to producing another horror movie. Thus challenged, Junior Laemmle brings the filming schedule forward and his chopping and changing lose the support of the director. He spends the next few days running around in panic mode until all the pieces finally fall into place and Boris Karloff is cast as the leading man.

It’s Alive! by Julian David Stone is a charming coming-of-age story with a difference as it allows the reader to engage with the origin of a cult classic. I really loved the way parental power issues and movie history were woven together, creating the perfect metaphor for intergenerational struggle. The narrative was convincing and the historical detail gave the impression the novelization was authentic. Every character was created using discerning motivation, which made me identify with them and hope they would achieve their goals. The expert representation of the Hollywood setting added glamour and drama. It’s Alive! by Julian David Stone is the perfect story for the B-Grade movie buff.

Lex Allen

Centered around 1930s Hollywood and the chaotic and exciting days prior to filming the cult classic movie Frankenstein, It’s Alive!, author Julian David Stone weaves a thrilling tale of hopeful passion, emotional vulnerability, staunch determination, and creative fulfillment into a breathtaking cinematic plot that would not only change the lives of everyone involved but Hollywood itself. It's Alive! is one of those rare stories based on one-hundred percent historical fact, but reads like a fast-paced work of fiction. With his background, experience, historical acumen, and engaging writing style, Stone literally takes the reader back in time to provide a front-row seat to a historical reenactment of the events leading up to the production of the original Frankenstein movie.

Simultaneously, readers will be mesmerized by the virtually first-person account of the founder of Universal Studios, Carl Laemmle, and his son, Junior, in their opposing views on the future of the studio. Where Carl is stuck in the past, Junior is hell-bent on creating the future of horror movies. Not to be ignored, Stone mixes insight into the actual lives of actors Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, the famous director James Whale, and actress Sidney Liefer a.k.a. Sidney Fox. A story read in one sitting, that I never wanted to end, It's Alive! is an entertaining and fascinating tale about the early years in Hollywood when "talkies" took over the movie industry. Plus, it is a fascinating insight into the lives of the studio chiefs, producers, directors, actors, and actresses that made Hollywood and the film industry the magnificent global industry it is today.

Maria Victoria Beltran

It’s Alive! A Novel by Julian David Stone is a historical work that takes us back to the making of Universal’s 1931 movie Frankenstein. The story opens with a set of tabloid notes. This countdown sets the tone for the coming suspense and captures the reader’s attention. The plot follows the frantic behind-the-scenes pre-production filming as Carl Laemmle Jr., head of production at Universal, clashes with his father Carl Laemmle Sr., the self-made founder of the studio. Crucially, Junior’s promotion to the position of vice president depends on his father’s approval of this movie production. While his father remains set in his old ways of doing business, Junior is looking at the future of the industry following the advent of talking movies. As a sub-plot, Hungarian star Bela Lugosi, fresh from his success in Universal’s movie Dracula and Junior’s first choice for the Frankenstein role, proves elusive while struggling actor Boris Karloff will get the break of his career if he gets the monster role. Along the way, we also meet a bevy of interesting celebrities that make Hollywood vibrant, chaotic, and an extremely exciting experience.

Julian David Stone has explored an interesting period in American cinema in his creative novel It’s Alive! He has also provided his readers with opposite sides of the spectrum; from the studio perspective, through Carl Laemmle Jr., and the actors’ viewpoints through Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. This makes the novel surprisingly relatable and quite dramatic. Stone builds up the suspense of the story expertly as the reader wonders if Junior will get to make his movie or be given the vice presidency and whether Karloff gets the role or will it be Lugosi, after all? This is certainly a book you would want to finish reading in one sitting, or else you may end up in a state of excitement or anxious uncertainty about what may happen in the end.