Today’s pick: This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel
From the publisher’s website:
Victor Frankenstein leads a charmed life. He and his twin brother, Konrad, and their beautiful cousin Elizabeth take lessons at home and spend their spare time fencing and horseback riding. Along with their friend Henry, they have explored all the hidden passageways and secret rooms of the palatial Frankenstein chateau. Except one.The Dark Library contains ancient tomes written in strange languages and filled with forbidden knowledge. Their father makes them promise never to visit the library, but when Konrad becomes deathly ill, Victor knows he must find the book that contains the recipe for the legendary Elixir of Life.
The elixir needs only three ingredients. But impossible odds, dangerous alchemy and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.Victor knows he must not fail. Yet his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science and love—and how much he is willing to sacrifice.
My take:I got fully immersed in the world of Victor Frankenstein and his family. This novel has everything a tween reader might want – spooky explorations of secret passages and caves, fast-paced action and swordfighting, mad scientists, and a quest for seemingly impossible to obtain ingredients for a mysterious potion. Fans of Kenneth Oppel’s books will like the strange and lethal creatures that pop up in this story, as well as all the suspense and action.
This prequel to the story of Frankstein is described as a young adult novel, but I think 12 and 13-year-old readers will enjoy it as well. Just be warned that there are some slightly gruesome elements (severed body parts) and some romance (a key plot element is a love triangle).As a writer, I’d read this again to study how to create a flawed viewpoint character that readers will root for. Victor Frankenstein has negative qualities, and the reader is definitely aware of them. But at the same time, I was compelled to see if he would succeed at what he set out to do. Then there’s also the skillful writing – I love the way the author uses only the words he needs, yet also manages to include details to create spooky atmosphere and settings.
What an almost 13-year-old says:“Can we buy this book? I think we should have our own copy.”
“I liked it because it has lots of surprises and twists.”
It is being made into a motion picture by the producers of Twilight.Kenneth Oppel lives in Toronto.
On his website he says, “When I get halfway through a draft of a book, I usually hit the wall and don't want to carry on, because there's so much unfinished work behind me. So back I go and rewrite.”
Other books by this author include:Novels for Young Adults
Such Wicked Intent, HarperCollins (Canada), August 2012, a sequel to This Dark EndeavourHalf Brother, HarperCollins (Canada) 2010
Starclimber, HarperCollins (Canada) 2008
Darkwing, HarperCollins (Canada) 2007Skybreaker, HarperCollins (Canada) 2005
Airborn, HarperCollins (Canada) 2004
Firewing, HarperCollins (Canada) 2002
Sunwing, HarperCollins (Canada) 1999
Silverwing, HarperCollins (Canada) 1997
Dead Water Zone, Kids Can Press (Canada) 1992
The Live-Forever Machine, Kids Can Press (Canada) 1990
Chapter BooksThe Barnes and the Brains Series: A Bad Case of Ghosts, A Strange Case of Magic, A Crazy Case of Robots, An Incredible Case of Dinosaurs, A Weird Case of Super-Goo, A Creepy Case of Vampires (all published by HarperCollins Canada)
Emma's Emu, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, reissued 1999
Picture BooksThe King's Taster, HarperCollins (Canada) 2009
Peg and the Yeti, HarperCollins (Canada) 2004
Peg and the Whale, HarperCollins (Canada) 2000
Follow That Star, Kids Can Press, 1992, out of print
Cosimo Cat, Scholastic Books, 1990, out of print
Adult NovelsThe Devil's Cure, HarperCollins (Canada) 2000
For more, visit Kenneth Oppel’s website.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!