Carol Baldwin's Reviews > This Dark Endeavor

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
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's review
May 03, 2012

really liked it

This book is not for the faint of heart. And it’s not for the reader who doesn’t have a stomach for scary, gory scenes and unpredictable mad scientists.

But, if you are intrigued by fast-paced adventures that seem impossibly dangerous—then This Dark Endeavor is a book for you.

I chose this book because I had enjoyed Kenneth Oppel’s book Airborn. Although they are both fantasy, the similarity ends there. This prequel to Mary Shelley’s gothic classic is a riveting, plausible read for older boy and girl readers.

One of the principles in my book, Teaching the Story is, “If You Want to Write, Read.” Following my own advice, I consistently read to learn how young adult authors successfully tell their stories. Here is what I learned from Oppel:

Open with a scene that hooks the reader and foretells the story’s conflict. The opening dueling scene between Victor Frankenstein and his twin Konrad is a powerful metaphor for the struggles between the two.
Set up a strong, convincing goal. When Konrad falls perilously ill, Victor is determined to find the elixir of life that will save his brother from death.
Invent plausible characters. Oppel cleverly creates a convincing backstory of how this educated young man could become the legendary Frankenstein.
Create nail-biting obstacles that the character must overcome to meet his goal and keep your reader turning pages. Victor battles huge flying evil birds, almost gets stuck in an underground cave, and donates his own—oops, I can’t tell you what—in order to obtain the elixir’s ingredients.
Give your character mixed motives. Along the way Victor realizes that his motivations towards his brother aren’t totally altruistic.
Create a love triangle with characters that have mixed motives. Elizabeth, a distant cousin they both love, chooses Konrad over Victor. But Victor has seen a side of her that Konrad is ignorant of. Can Victor’s bravery win Elizabeth’s love?
Provide an unexpected, but “of course!” end. What will Victor do when he realizes the alchemist he trusted has his own plans for the elixir?

Sorry, no answers here.
You’ll just have to read the book.

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