09 November 2011

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

The purest intentions can stir up the darkest obsessions.

In this prequel to Mary Shelley's Gothic classic, Frankenstein, sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever.  Victor's twin, Konrad, has fallen ill, and no doctor can cure him.  Unwilling to give up on his brother, Victor enlists his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and his best friend, Henry, on a treacherous search for the ingredients to create the forbidden Elixir of Life.  Impossible odds, dangerous alchemy, and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.

Victor knows he must not fail.  But 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.


An interesting story, but not one that struck my fancy.

It was excellently written, though I had a hard time buying into the atmosphere. I usually get a feel for the world within twenty or so pages but this one…I got a hundred pages in and still felt like I was stumbling around in the dark. 

I liked the main character, Victor, though mostly for his bad-boy appeal.  The emotional journey was incredible, and very real with its switchbacks and unpredictable U-turns.  The cousin, Elizabeth…I couldn't decide whether she was cool or just annoying.  She was fiery, but she had her moments of eye-rolling girlyness.

It was a great idea.  The plot was intriguing, if a bit predictable—except for the end.  Boy was that a belly dropper.  But I couldn't really get into it because the story of Frankenstein has never interested me.  (I picked this book up mostly for its cover. Shh.)

This book  makes me have more faith in Kenneth Oppel's work.  I had previously attempted to read his popular book Airborn but couldn't manage because it was bogged down by so much detail.  This Dark Endeavor was very elegantly written and wasn't swamped with nit-picky details, so maybe I'll grab a copy of Airborn.

Well written, short and torturing, it's worth a gander.

Book Info:

  • pages – hardcover, 298
  • published – August 2011
  • publisher – Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
  • genre – historical fiction
  • rating – 3/5
  • received via – school library :)