It's day 3 of my Canadian YA Lit blog event. Today's post is a review of a book I read a few months ago when I first started planning this event. Lots of other bloggers and reviewers I know have enjoyed it, and the next book, Such Wicked Intent, comes out this August.
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Release Date: August 21, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
In this prequel to Mary Shelley's classic gothic novel, sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein's life is about to change. His twin, Konrad, has fallen ill and it seems no doctor can cure him. Unwilling to give up, Victor enlists his cousin Elizabeth and best friend Henry on a dangerous search for ingredients to create the Elixir of Life. Impossible odds, forbidden alchemy, and a bitter love triangle threaten progress at every turn, but Victor knows he must not fail. Even when success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature and science, on how much he is willing to sacrifice to save his brother.
Mysterious and gothic, This Dark Endeavour gives readers a new look at an old classic novel. It's like discovering the secret past of an old friend, a past filled with as much darkness as the present. Instead of Victor Frankenstein the scientist we're given Victor Frankenstein the young scholar, the intelligent and stubborn young man, the devoted brother and son unafraid to risk everything to same someone he cares for.
The connection between Victor and Konrad was interesting. It's nothing new, reading about twins who have a sort of connection, but the circumstance of Konrad's illness seemed to elevate it. With the time period the book takes place in and the close way in which the family lived, it wasn't surprising to find them so close, so similar. Of course, it might not necessarily be healthy for Victor to see Konrad as the other half of himself. Twins they may be, but they're still separate individuals, they will still lead their own lives, not each be content living half of the same life.
Victor's character was especially intriguing. Those who have read Shelley's original novel know what's to come, what he will become and what he will one day create. Here, Oppel gives us hints and glimpses of his youthful naivete, of the idealistic young man the good Dr. Frankenstein used to be, of the hopes and dreams he still dared to have before his world turned dark. Before the creature.
Obsession is dangerous. Perhaps Victor has a sort of addictive personality. The unknown, the occult, he seems to have an unhealthy interest in it when he sees it as a way to solve his problem. Just because it is one way, it is not the only way. The same can be said of his connection with Konrad, how he wants to keep the two of them together. How he envisions their future with Elizabeth.
This is a rather well-written novel worthy of being called a prequel to Mary Shelley's original. It was just as dark and thrilling, filled with just as much gothic horror and mystique surrounding alchemy and the occult.
(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)