Oppel, Kenneth. This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. Simon and Schuster, 2011. 17.99. 304p. 978-1-4424-0315-4
15-year-old Victor Frankenstein is ambitious and passionate and want to make his mark. His identical twin, Konrad, is compassionate and gentle and wants to make sure everyone else is happy. Everyone loves Konrad and sometimes, this really gets on Victor’s nerves. When Konrad falls ill, Victor is determined that he will be the one to save him. He descends to the forbidden Dark Library and searches out the elusive and disgraced alchemist, Julius Polidari. With the help of Elizabeth, a very distant cousin who grew up with the boys, and Henry, a neighbor who’s father is always away on business, Victor sets out to find the three dangerous but needed ingredients to make the potion that will surely save Konrad’s life. And exalt Victor’s.
Taking his cue from the novel Frankenstein but changing a few details including the ages of Frankenstein’s younger brothers and introducing us to a twin brother, Oppel creates an original tale to explain why Victor Frankenstein may have created his monster. This identical brother is everything Victor despises but also wants to be. This jealousy over someone who looks exactly like him, but is so much “better” leads Victor down his dark path. He wants what Konrad has, including his girlfriend, but at the same time, Victor despises himself for feeling this way towards his brother. It's these conflicting emotions that drive the book. But Oppel also includes lots of action! Victor and crew fight animals and nature to get the rare ingredients needed to heal Konrad. I think this book will appeal to anyone who likes a good mystery as well as suspense and surprises. The tension increases the more you read which makes you simultaneously want to stop reading and wanting to rush the end. Clear your schedule and sit down with this one. I can only hope there will be a sequel!