Oct 17, 2013

Book Review : This Dark Endeavor

Title : This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein 

Series : #1 Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
Author : Kenneth Oppel
Rating : ****

Basic Plot : This book (ahem trilogy) is the prequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Victor and Konrad Frankenstein are twins who live an affluent life of imaginary adventure often involving their distant cousin and live in "sister" Elizabeth and their imaginative friend Henry. Suddenly though, after discovering a hidden, forbidden Dark Library in their manor house, their adventures become all too real. Konrad is taken ill, deathly ill, and Victor returns to the library in search of an alchemical cure. With time running out for his brother, Victor, along with Elizabeth and Henry, attempt to assemble the ingredients for the Elixir of Life. They climb the highest trees, explore the deepest caves, and make unthinkable sacrifices. This revival of the Gothic Novel would not be complete without these dark endeavors, seemingly magical potions, and the complicated love that fuels it all. 

Comments : I just have to start by saying LOOK AT THAT COVER! I love it so, so much and the story surpassed all my expectations. During much of the story, I admit, it was hard for me to relate to Victor, our dark hero. He is arrogant, dishonest, and power hungry--at times downright primal. Over the course of the story his character becomes more and more obscure. It is disquieting, but perhaps it is meant to be so. Needless to say, once started I could not put the book down. Through Mary Shelley we all know how the story ends, but far more intriguing through Kenneth Oppel's eye, we now can see how it might have begun. It is full of action, suspense, darkness. I am indeed looking forward to the next installment, "Such Wicked Intent."

Significance : One thing that really struck me while reading this book was how the corruption of our hero took place in increments. A deception here, a falsehood there. That was just the beginning. Also how the initial quest for the elixir was forged out of necessity and a deep desire to heal a loved one, but grew into a dark obsession and desire for power and praise. Our protagonist becomes brash, jealous, and arrogant--so unlike the heros I am used to cheering for, but perhaps far more realistic. The sacrifices made throughout the novel, to gain the ingredients, would have been noble had it not been for an underlying unease I felt about Victor's real intent and his battle between the primal and human duality within.

Similar : Frankenstein by Marry Shelley (read), Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (read), Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (wishlist).

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