This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Cindy: Can I just steal Daniel Kraus’ review for my blog post of  This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein (Simon & Schuster 2011)? Okay, not the whole thing, I need to earn my keep, but how about the opening?

That Victor Frankenstein must’ve been a handful as a teen, eh? The latest entry in the why-hasn’t-anyone-thought-of-this-before category is this cunning take on Victor’s formative years, which (no surprise) are filled with wild temper, intellectual passion, and an aptitude for renegade science.–Daniel Kraus

You can click on the link above and read the rest of the review….I’ll wait…

Teens who have read Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein will have fun with this imagined look at how Victor might have gotten his start in his laboratory pursuits. Oppel gives Victor a seriously ill twin brother that propels Victor into action using a forbidden dark library, the secret assistance of an alchemist, and the help of his friend Henry and his brother’s love Elizabeth. The ending leaves me hopeful for sequels. In the meantime, recommend this to fans of Rick Yancy’s Monstrumologist series (the final installment The Isle of Blood is just out) or to Daniel Kraus’s own delightfully creepy novel, The Rotters.

Frankenstein’s monster has been brought to life by many actors and movie producers (Boris Karloff and Mel Brooks to name two) but I learned this morning that the first film production of Shelley’s book is credited by most sources to Thomas Edison’s studio in 1910!

“Bolt” to your favorite book source, and get your hands on this story in time for Halloween!

Lynn: This book was a double treat for me – appropriate for a book about twins!  I listened to the book on audio (Brilliance 2011) and the fabulous writing was made even more compelling by Luke Daniels’ superb narration.  The story is told in first person by Victor and Oppel does a wonderful job with his depiction of Victor as an impulsive risk-taker who is often jealous of his accomplished and genuinely kind twin.  But we also see clearly how devoted Victor is to his brother and just how far he is willing to go to save Konrad’s life – it isn’t his right arm that Victor sacrifices but something close to that!  Oppel has done some really clever things with this story incorporating scientific knowledge of the time, social conditions and the restrictions on women and some interesting exploration of faith.  But the real meat of this story is Victor, the dark magic that he explores and the impact of these events on who he will be.

I’ve never been a big fan of most of what passes for horror written for teens until I read the Monstrumologist series, which I loved.  Cindy is right; this book is for fans of that stellar series.  I was glued to my ear buds and hope there will be more endeavors to come. (She’s right about Daniel Kraus’ book too, which is amazing.  We hope to post about that one later.  For now, just let me say two words – “coffin liquid!”

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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