This review will contain spoilers!
In many sentences:
I love that Kafka jumps right into Gregor being transformed into the vermin. There's no exposition into who Gregor was before the metamorphosis or any tension building up to the core element of the plot - it just begins with this fact. I think this works so well because it increases the fear and uncertainty around the transformation. It leaves me asking "How did this happen? Did Gregor do something to bring this upon himself? Could it happen to me?" Ultimately, jumping in this way helps me to connect with Gregor immediately because, not knowing much else about him, I picture myself in his predicament.
Throughout this short story, Kafka does an excellent job of helping you both feel sympathetic for the plight of Gregor, while also not letting you forget that he is disgusting and monstrous. We are happy to see his sister working so hard to find him food, to keep his area clean, and to give him space to crawl, but we also understand when she does not want to actually see him any more than necessary
The ending is heartbreaking, but Gregor does experience at least some redemption, even if it is entirely internal (and even if there's no clear reason why he needed redemption in the first place. At least in the sense that we don't see a specific act of monstrosity that he performed prior to being transformed.) I did find it ironic that the edition of the book I was reading contained more pages of essays about The Metamorphosis than it did pages of the original story itself.
This is definitely a book worth reading if you've never read it before or, like me, not in many years.
Franz Kafka the Last Line of in The Metamorphosis