Amelia, the pragmatic idealist's Reviews > Such Wicked Intent

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel
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's review
Nov 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: alamw12, arcs, point-of-view-guy
Read from February 25 to March 09, 2012

I rounded this one up to 4 stars, even though at times it felt more like a 3.5

Such Wicked Intent was one of the ARCs I was fortunate to get at ALA Midwinter, and after being completely captivated by This Dark Endeavor, I had to know what was going to happen next.

This second installment in the Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein picks up almost immediately where Endeavor left off. If you've read that novel, you know what I'm talking about. And while Oppel's writing style was just as strong, I'm not sure the story captivated me as much. The main area of study in This Dark Endeavor was alchemy (I don't think that's a spoiler), and Victor tried to use alchemical means to save his brother's life. Now the area of study has shifted to what I can only think to call paranormal mysticism - spirit boards and attempts to reach "the great beyond" or whatever. And whenever one encounters spirits, one also encounters commentary about life after death and so forth. That's one of the things I don't like to see even in a fictional novel, because even in a fictional story, I can't help but think that any type of spirit world (and all its rules and workings) is just bass-ackwards. As a result, I was never as engrossed in the story as I was with This Dark Endeavor, mainly because in SWI I spent a great deal of my reading experience being confused, highly skeptical, or just downright uncomfortable.
The characters weren't as likeable as I remembered, either. I mentioned Victor's megalomaniac personality and his intense need for approval dueling with his sensitive, well intentioned and sometimes compassionate nature. Those were the qualities that endeared me to him. But here, Victor was mainly just a bully and a narcissist who sauntered through the novel getting his way by forcing his will on everyone else. Likewise, Elizabeth wasn't near as likeable as in the first installment. Between perfect Konrad and brooding Victor, Elizabeth was presented as the voice of reason - she was spiritual to their scientific, level-headed to their impulsive. But in this installment, Elizabeth took on an obsessive and borderline crazy personality. I'm serious - even Bellatrix Lestrange would think Elizabeth was one weird chick.
But even for all its shortcomings (and I'm being honest - that's what they were), Such Wicked Intent's saving grace was in its commentary. I've said before in reviews that what gets me going is not so much the content in a book, but the message behind the content, or the approving or disapproving way in which it's portrayed. What made SWI so brilliant was the feeling of watching an impending trainwreck in slow-motion. Any reader who knows more than a little about Frankenstein ultimately knows what grand finale we're moving towards. And as bummed out as I was that Victor lost a lot of his likeability with me, I loved seeing the intensity give way to madness. I may not necessarily like Victor any more, but I still understand him.
So what's up next? My prediction is that book three (view spoiler) We're almost there, folks!

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Reading Progress

02/26/2012 page 10
3.0% "I have a feeling this sequel's going to be a bit...different. :P"
03/03/2012 page 85
27.0% "Enjoying this one fairly well, but I'm noticing a pattern with Kenneth Oppel books: just like in the AIRBORN series, the guy has a thing for throwing in love triangles. Or should I say, love quadruples."
03/03/2012 page 110
35.0% "definitely different from THIS DARK ENDEAVOR...I'll have to read some more. But not right now, because I'm watching HUGO again. And frankly, Asa and Ben Kingsley are more interesting than this. :P"
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