Rachel's Reviews > This Dark Endeavor

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
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's review
Jan 14, 2012

liked it
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3.5 – I’m a bit on the fence about it. It has brilliant moments, but overall I wasn’t in love.

It’s the story of a sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein (yes, that Frankenstein) living in a castle outside Geneva with his parents, twin brother, cousin Elizabeth, and best friend Henry. His twin brother gets a debilitating disease and Victor and his friends go on a quest involving Indiana-Jones-like obstacles and alchemy to heal him.

The author did a great job making Victor human and fallible and an under-dog. He’s insecure, always second-best to his perfect brother, and yet egotistical. The secondary characters are equally unique and life-like. The setting was interesting. The obstacles were clever. The foreshadowing was BRILLIANT (I loved the ‘next clue is right at hand comment.’ The author made sure we noted it, but I had no idea what it meant until it was revealed and then it was so perfect I laughed out loud).

But… As well drawn as Victor was, I didn’t like him very much. He never crossed the line for me from someone to pity for his situation to someone to admire for how he handle their situation (even if he handled it in a negative way). And perhaps this was inherent to the story (as he does become The Frankenstein after all), but at times I thought he was so CLOSE to becoming someone I pity and love and hate all at once (like Eric from Susan Kay’s Phantom) that his failure to cross the divide was disappointing.

I also found the setting a bit too modern. It had no historical feel at all. The sensibilities of the characters are all modern (which is explained, but I thought the book would have been better if they’d be true to their time). It could have been set in modern times with just a few changes.

I found the Indiana-Jones adventures boring (and tended to skim them), but that might be because I’m not a teenage boy.

I struggled with the ending. I’m still not sure if it was absolutely brilliant or an absolute cop-out (SPOILER ALERT HERE. I’m going to be specific of what I didn’t like). I read this on my Kindle. At the 59% or so mark, I was really into the book. Some plotlines had been resolved, but a number were still wide open. I was engaged. Then I turned the page and read ‘To be Continued in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein’ (or something like that). I felt really jipped. I wanted the story to end, not be brushed off to a book written by someone else.The rest of the 40% on my kindle was the original Frankenstein.

But after thinking about it, the way the story ended grew on me. It’s an interesting thing to try (a prequel whose plot lines end in the original book) and risky. And I am now reading the original tale.

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