Friday, May 27, 2016

Book Review & Giveaway: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Title: This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1)
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 298
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Bravery, danger, and intense passion. How does obsession begin?

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 discover secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies. Father forbids them from ever entering the room again, but when Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is drawn back to the Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Victor, along with his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and friend Henry, immediately set out to find a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help them create the formula.

Determined to save Konrad, the three friends scale the highest trees in Strumwald, dive into the deepest lakes, and even make an unthinkable sacrifice in their quest for the elixir’s ingredients. And as if their task was not complicated enough, a new realm of danger—that of illicit love—threatens to end the ordeal in tragedy.

Confession: I have never read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I've also never been a huge fan of Frankenstein apart from maybe Young Frankenstein, which I watched way too many times growing up, thanks to my parents. Recently I watched Victor Frankenstein (there's probably a review of that coming soon) and really, really wanted to read more about Frankenstein's story. When I saw the gorgeous cover of This Dark Endeavor and saw that it was a prequel story, I knew I had to read it!

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!

Giveaway (US Only)

The first copy of this book I received was not the cover I intended to purchase. Basically, I ended up with an extra copy
(with this cover), which means I get to share a copy with one of you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway