Sunday, July 22, 2012

Book Review: This Dark Endeavor, by Kenneth Oppel

Title: This Dark Endeavor
Series/Sequel? The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Romance
Age Level: YA
Page Count: 304
Perspective: First Person (Male)

Summary from Goodreads: Victor Frankenstein leads a charmed life. He and his twin brother, Konrad, and their beautiful cousin Elizabeth take lessons at home and spend their spare time fencing and horseback riding. Along with their friend Henry, they have explored all the hidden passageways and secret rooms of the palatial Frankenstein chateau. Except one.

The Dark Library contains ancient tomes written in strange languages and filled with forbidden knowledge. Their father makes them promise never to visit the library, but when Konrad becomes deathly ill, Victor knows he must find the book that contains the recipe for the legendary Elixir of Life.

The elixir needs only three ingredients. But impossible odds, dangerous alchemy and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.

Victor knows he must not fail. Yet his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science and love—and how much he is willing to sacrifice.

Review: I've never read Frankenstein. I mean, I know the basic story; everyone does. But I just thought I'd tell you that I have never read Mary Shelley's classic, so I may not understand all the allusions to the original.

I didn't think I would enjoy this book very much. I only read it because the cover looked simply amazing and there were a couple of really cool quotes in the summary and on the back cover.

How wrong I was.

I loved the characters in this. Victor was a very interesting character, a personification of the animalistic characteristics of human nature: passion, violence, instinct, pride. On the other end of things, his twin Konrad seemed to be a personification of the qualities that make humans human: intelligence, charm. And then Elizabeth seemed to be caught in the middle, a mix between the human and animal natures, between Konrad and Victor. I also loved how independent and strong Elizabeth was, so unusual for a woman of that time period. (During the French Revolution.) All the other characters were well developed also, but those three, as the three main characters, really stood out to me.

I loved reading about the alchemy involved in this, and how the alchemy (and science) was influenced by the time period, and vice versa. I've never really been able to find any (good) books about alchemy, and it was really well explained and interesting to read about in this book.

This book was really well-written, there was no turn of phrase that needed editing. I greatly respect Mr. Oppel!

I greatly recommend this book to fans of alchemy, Frankenstein, male protagonists, and/or historical fiction!


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