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This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein

by Oppel, Kenneth

Book list 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. When 15-year-old Victor's twin brother, Konrad, is struck by a dire illness, Victor, his cousin Elizabeth, and friend Henry take advantage of the Dark Library they recently found hidden behind a bookshelf. Swiftly, they become confederates with Polidori, a shamed alchemist who sets before the trio the challenge of assembling three ingredients, each more harrowing to acquire than the last. 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. Elizabeth feels less like her literary counterpart, and the middle section drags in classic teen sleuthing. Thankfully and almost out of nowhere the final 50 pages explode into wild, gory theatrics that prove Oppel isn't afraid to reach into his characters' darkest hearts.--Kraus, Danie. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In this stylish gothic tale, first in a planned series, teenage Victor Frankenstein makes a desperate attempt to create the forbidden alchemical Elixir of Life, in order to save his beloved twin brother, Konrad, from an untimely death. Aided by his steadfast friend Henry and his adopted sister, Elizabeth, who both twins love to distraction, Victor sets out to acquire the necessary ingredients, scales the tallest tree in the Sturmwald during a lightning storm to acquire a rare and poisonous lichen, later descending into a dangerous Swiss cave in search of the equally rare and even deadlier coelacanth. Victor, already a mad scientist in training, is passionate and easily angered, and Elizabeth makes for a fiery love interest. Written in a readable approximation of early 19th-century style, Oppel's (Half Brother) tale is melodramatic, exciting, disquieting, and intentionally over the top. For the most part, Oppel hews closely to the Frankenstein mythos, and with a delicious mix of science, history, and horror, he peers into the psyche of a young man who is beginning to hunger for greater control over life and death. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 7-10-When Konrad Frankenstein, the beloved twin brother of headstrong, quick-tempered Victor, falls inexplicably and deathly ill, Victor embarks on a dark quest to find a cure. Enlisting the help of his cousin/adopted sister, Elizabeth, and his best friend, Henry Clerval, he seeks a disreputable alchemist named Polidori who sends them to retrieve the ingredients for a potion that will supposedly restore Konrad's health. However, the potion also has a history of killing those who drink it. Despite the ambiguous nature of the remedy, Victor feverishly follows his course, pulling himself, Henry, and Elizabeth into greater danger with each relentless step. 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. Many details remain the same as in the original work; for instance, Victor's arrogant desire to overcome the power of illness and death makes him a slightly unlikable protagonist. But here's a sign of a good storyteller: readers may not like Victor, but they will certainly want to find out what happens to him.-Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.