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This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein Hardcover – August 23, 2011
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"Oppel’s novel is a gripping tale of undying devotion, mixing hope with foreboding."—The Horn Book in a STARRED review
“Oppel’s tale is melodramatic, exciting, disquieting…a delicious mix.”—Publisher’s Weekly in a STARRED review
"Brash, jealous, and arrogant, Victor is sweet relief from today’s introspective YA protagonists, and one can easily visualize how this teen becomes the mad genius of Shelley’s Frankenstein."--Booklist
"Oppel grapples with the human duality of animal and soul in ways that recall (but don’t repeat) Shelley’s similar thematic explorations as he revitalizes the classic horror tale for a new generation."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED review
“This Dark Endeavor may renew interest in Frankenstein, but it also stands alone as an original and welcome addition to the world of young-adult fiction.”—Kelley Armstrong, author of the Darkest Power series
"A dark and dramatic back story for Shelley’s tormented creator."--Kirkus Reviews
"Sharp readers will find allusions to Mary Shelley, her literary circle, and classic horror films; for those simply wanting a good story with plenty of action, this book will not disappoint."--School Library Journal
"The action and suspense begin on page one and let up very little in this excellent work of gothic science fiction."--VOYA
“Adventures do not come more thrilling, gorgeously written or absorbing than this.”
—The London Times
A London Times Best Children's Book of 2011:
"Kenneth Oppel's This Dark Endeavour is a captivating Gothic novel.... Books this good are for life, not just Christmas."
"This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel...is a brilliantly layered exploration of what made Victor Frankenstein the man he became.... Victor’s struggle to pit fraternal love against his baser emotions, particularly his animal attraction to their cousin Elizabeth, who loves Konrad, gives a compelling psychological edge to this richly imagined Gothic thriller.--The Telegraph
"Adventures do not come more thrilling, gorgeously written or absorbing than this."--London Times
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The author does an amazing job at achieving balance in a story that is at times gruesome and haunting, and sometimes just hold your breath, edge of your seat thrilling. Victor's narrative voice is strong and true, and the dialogue is masterfully done. Obsession lies at the root of this story and here we get an intriguing look at the genesis of one of the most famous obsessions in literature. Teens will be captivated by Victor's quest for the elixir of life and will willingly follow him anywhere in his attempt to save his brother. They will relate to Victor's love/hate relationship with his twin brother, and his jealousy over the beautiful Elizabeth.
Heart wrenching emotion, villainy, alchemy, and love all combine much as they did in Shelley's masterpiece to form a story that is a worthy prequel to a classic. This will appeal to young adults with a thirst for adventure, especially boys who will be quick to place themselves in Victor's shoes. Elizabeth is a strong character who will also broaden the appeal to young girls who enjoy period fiction. Give this one to fans of Yancey's The Monstrumologist. While it does not provide the monsters, it does provide a literary examination of the dark side of human nature perfect for those with a thirst to examine their own obsessions. Recommended.
I was hooked form the moment I started reading this book. Everything about it captured and held my attention. I really felt drawn to Victor, Elizabeth and Victor's brother Konrad. They're closeness, and imaginative adventures had me wishing I was there to accompany around their Chateau Frankenstein in the beautiful outskirts of Geneva. There's a rich history both with the family Chateau and the surrounding area that I devoured. I also really liked the Frankenstein family. Victor's parents are high class, outstanding citizens who are also quite liberal and well educated for their time. I should say it was uncommon for a women to be liberal, have a voice and be as well educated as his mother is. That intelligence is passed on to Victor.
What starts out as a quest to save his brother leads Victor down an enticing, darker road that many of taken and few have walked away from unscathed. It was so easy for me to sympathize with Victor's motives for doing what he does. He's a very passionate character, who will do anything to save his beloved brother from dying of a mysterious illness. One of the things I loved about the brothers is their bond and the way they balance each other. Konrad is the laid back, easy going brother who's slow to temper, unlike Victor. Victor is a complex character who's head strong, stubborn and very competitive. One of my favorite characters is their distant cousin Elizabeth, who of course not only has the eye of both brothers, but she's well educated, loves an adventure and can be just as hot tempered as Victor. She's also a very strong heroine.
I wish I could talk about the plot with out giving away spoilers. I love the way the story is written. It's flawless, and well paced which made for a story I read in one sitting. Kenneth does a great job with how he writes a couple of his scenes, which could have easily become a little bit more gruesome had they been written differently. These scenes flowed effortlessly into the story's over all plot and were written into the story for a reason. One of the other things I really like about the story is that each scene has a purpose in the over all telling of Victor's story. It was really refreshing for me to read a book that didn't just feel well written, it felt complete.
Kenneth Oppel has done an amazing job at bringing to life what Victor Frankenstein's life was like as a teen. Staying true to the feel of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I felt Kenneth captured the feel of this 18th century story beautifully with his detailed setting, the feel of the book and the characters themselves. There's something about this era that's always intrigued me and This Dark Endeavor has definitely fueled my need for more. You don't need to be die hard fan of Frankenstein to pick this book up. I wasn't a huge fan of Frankenstein, but I really loved this book. It's a fantastic story that I recommend picking up. In fact, it's one I think teachers can use in conjunction with Frankenstein in their classrooms.
This is the story of Victor and Konrad Frankenstein, along with their cousin, Elizabeth, and good friend, Henry. Although each of these characters is important in their own way, Victor is undoubtedly the star of the show and he is incredible in the strangest way. I knew going in that Victor would be a... unique character. I wasn't disappointed.
Victor is passionate and odd and has just a little bit of darkness in him. He wants what he wants and does not let anything stand in his way. At times I wondered whether he was entirely stable or whether he lacked the ability to truly care about anyone other than himself and sometimes he even made me a little uncomfortable. But despite all of his shortcomings, he was a wonderful character to get to know. His love for his brother could not be doubted, even if he had a strange way of showing it at times.
Elizabeth is the love interest here, if there must be one. Yes, there is something of a love triangle, but I really didn't find that it detracted that much from the story. In fact, I thought it really added to my understanding of Victor as a character. Elizabeth was also a really interesting character to get to know. It seemed as if a bit of Victor's curiosity and passion had also rubbed off on her and she did not always know what to make of her own actions. I honestly cannot wait to get to know more about her in the second book in this duology.
I found the plot to be extremely intriguing. Perhaps some of Victor Frankenstein's backstory is given in the original book, but having never read that, I only have secondhand sources to go by. I knew that something had happened to Victor's brother, but to see Konrad's illness and Victor's determination to save him shed a lot of light on his later life. Admittedly, I don't know much about alchemy, but following along with Victor and Co. as they worked towards creating the Elixir of Life was both informative and exciting!
The setting that was painted by Kenneth Oppel was also really well done! I don't read much gothic fiction, but I definitely felt like he did a wonderful job of placing me into the Frankenstein house in Geneva. As a book worm, my favorite part was obviously the Dark Library!
The one bit I didn't really enjoy (which, unfortunately, was kind of a big part of the story) was the old alchemist who helped Victor create the elixir. I felt that he (along with his cat) was predictable and just a little too eccentric for the story. I feel like if his character could have been toned down just a bit, this would have been a much better read.
Overall I really enjoyed This Dark Endeavor! Although it wasn't a perfect read, I thought it was a fantastic prequel story to the Frankenstein I've grown up with through the movies. I can't wait to read the next one and, perhaps, even read the classic all of this was based on!
Actual rating: 4.5 stars
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