Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein – Kenneth Oppel

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Pages:  304
Source:  I received a review copy from the publisher
Genre:  Young Adult, Adventure, Gothic, Suspense, Fantasy

Parent Alert:  Due to some of the subject matter and gore you might want to read this book before giving it to your tween.  Not all tweens are mature enough to handle the material.

Product Description
Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.
They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.

Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrads life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

My Thoughts:
My first introduction to Frankenstein was the old black and white movie that were on TV in the 1960’s.  I loved spending my Saturdays watching them.  When I hit college and studied Byron, and Shelley I learned how the story of Frankenstein came about.   Percy and Mary Shelley were visiting their friend Lord Byron when a storm came up.  They sat around telling ghost stories when a challenge was thrown out.  They were each to write a scary story and see who could come up with the best.  Enter Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  For this reason when given the opportunity to read and review this book I jumped at the chance.

Kenneth Oppel  took a few liberties when creating the early years of Victor Frankenstein.  He gave Victor a twin brother.  Victor and Konrad love each other very much.  Where Victor is out for success, doing things that will make a name for himself, no matter what’; his brother Konrad is the opposite.  He is constantly thinking of others and giving credit to others instead of taking it for himself.  This of course draws people to him.   Then we throw in their distant cousin Elizabeth.  Both of the boys are drawn to her.  When we add the jealousy Victor feels towards his brother over Elizabeth and the way Konrad is treated by others we can see trouble brewing. 

When Konrad becomes ill and doctors can do nothing, Victor decides to become the hero here.  He will do what the regular doctors can’t.  HE will find a cure for his brother.  He along with Elizabeth and his best friend Henry search out the old outcast alchemist Julius Polidari.  He then sets out on a quest to retrieve the three main ingredients necessary for “the elixir of life”.  We can see right from the beginning there is a battle raging inside of Victor.  It is the battle of why he is truly taking up this quest.  We see the power of darkness, in all its forms,  and its effect on him. 

This is a book that anyone who loves Frankenstein, or anyone who has never been privileged to read Frankenstein should read.  It diverts from the original a bit but not enough to detract.  In my opinion it enhanced my  reading experience.

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