Thursday, November 24, 2011

MEN in YA: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (Review + Giveaway)

Genre:Young Adult,
Publication.Date  August 30th 2011
Published By:  HarperCollinsCA | @HarperCollinsCa | Facebook
WebsiteKenneth Oppel
This Dark Endeavor - Goodreads
My review copy:ARC received from the publisher
Where to get: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.

They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only piques Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. With their friend Elizabeth, Henry and Victor immediately set out to find assistance from a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.

Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrad's life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

Please note:  Quotes are from an ARC and will be verified against a published copy.
"There is knowing, and there is believing", said Elizabeth. "They are two different things. Knowing requires facts. Believing requires faith. If there were proof of God's existence, it wouldn't be a faith, would it."
"Why?" I asked her. "Why was it only me you attacked?"
"Because it's you," she whispered "who is the real monster" 
I thought a moment, and then said, "When I see the stars, I think of the planets that must orbit them, and I would like to travel among them. And if we could do so, would not we be gods?"
"A modest goal, then," said my twin. "Victor just wants to be a god."
Laughing, I elbowed him in the ribs. "I'm imbued with high hopes and lofty ambitions. And if I can't travel between planets--"
"Always good to have a backup plan", Henry interjected.
"--then I will create something, some great work that will be useful and marvellous to all humanity."
My laboratory. I felt a curious eagerness and excitement. Never had I excelled at schoolwork. I was impatient, I was sloppy. But I had been charged with creating something and was determined to do it well.

     Who doesn't know the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young Swiss student of chemistry and natural philosophy, who, obsessed with the concept of creating life, began a series of experiments that lead to creation of a "monster"? We've all heard the story, some of us have read Mary Shelley's book, the rest have probably watched the excellent James Whale/Boris Karloff's film adaptation of it. Shelley's novel is a true classic of science fiction, dark fantasy and horror, a chilling, deeply disturbing and absolutely heart-breaking tale that has well earned its place in popular culture. But have you ever wondered what lead Victor Frankentein to do all these things? What drove him? What sparked his obsession with finding the ultimate cure for death, what fed his madness? If you did, then this is the right book for you. In This Dark Endeavor Kenneth Oppel answers some of the nagging questions we as readers have had over the years. He takes us on an incredible journey back in time to Victor's teenage years, and, through the magnificent 19th century-sque beautiful, ornate language, skillfully recreates the fascinating adventures and gut-wrenching events that lead to his future as Dr. Frankenstein.

     Sixteen years old Victor leads a sweet life. He is a son of privilege. Together with his twin brother, Konrad, and beautiful cousin, Elizabeth, he enjoys all the advantages that come from being the heir to a wealthy and well-respected family. These three have everything they could possibly want. Victor's parents provide them with the highest quality, progressive education. They pass their time playing in the garden, acting in plays, horseback riding, fencing and exploring all the hidden passages and secret rooms in the splendid Frankenstein chateau. One day, when spending time in their father's library, they accidentally stumble upon yet another mysterious passageway hidden behind the bookshelves. At the end of the long, dingy corridor they discover what turns out to be the Biblioteka Obscura - the Dark Library, full of books written in ancient, strange languages, containing forbidden knowledge. Before they get a chance to further explore the contents, their father forbids them from entering the library ever again, making it very clear that it's not a good place and should remain hidden and forgotten. It isn't until Konrad falls victim to a deadly illness that Victor decides to re-visit the Dark Library in hope of finding the recipe for the legendary Elixir of Life. Desperate to save his brother's life, young Frankenstein will stop at nothing. Together with Elizabeth and their friend, Henry, they'll set out on a dangerous journey, one that will change their lives forever.

     Enthralling and beautifully shaped - This Dark Endeavor is a remarkable book. I loved every second of it. Kenneth Oppel's lyrical language resembles Mary Shelley's writing style so much that you practically can't tell the difference. At the same time it feels even more fluent and smooth, giving the impression of effortlessly flowing river of words. Mesmerizing, bewitching and deliciously dark - every passage of this book begs to be quoted, to be read aloud, to be re-read over and over again (and possibly shared on Twitter). It's truly a masterpiece and I'm in awe of Oppel's writing. I'm in awe of his exquisite storytelling skills. I'm in awe of the beauty, tenderness and clarity of his words. I honestly can't believe I haven't read any of his previous books - where have I been not to come across any of them before?!

      This is an incredibly compelling story. Victor comes across as a charismatic, intelligent, ambitious, full of potential but also very spoiled and self-centered young man. Oppel did a fabulous job depicting his personality. He's such a vivid, well-drawn character. Jealous of his brother, but at the same absolutely devoted and ready to do just about anything it takes to protect him. He is curious, eager to explore, bold (bordering on arrogance) and charming. And then there are those moments when his darker nature shines through, when his wild desires take over and he looses control for just a moment - that's when you realize that this is the same obsessed, obnoxious Dr. Frankenstein that you are reading about. I found it fascinating to  get to know him and the motives behind his actions.

      I loved the dark, Gothic atmosphere of this book. It was thick and omnipresent on every page. Spellbinding. The setting was fabulous: a three hundred years old fortress near Geneva, surrounded with forests and lakes, with countless chambers, ballrooms, undiscovered passages and murky dungeons. The way Kenneth Oppel combined the elements of horror and romance was utterly masterful. A bitter love triangle, a suspicious alchemist, a forbidden book and an ultimate sacrifice that will change Victor's life forever - the suspense never lets up. The ending will leave you gasping for breath, disturbed but also touched, shattered to pieces. It's a perfect read for long Winter evenings - I highly recommend it!

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For those of you who didn't have quite enough of our dark, charming hero - great news! There will be more! 
You can expect to see the sequel to This Dark Endeavor - Such Wicked Intent - Summer 2012.
There will also be brand new covers for the series - which in my opinion look fab!
Take a look:

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Thanks to the fabulous

I have one hardcover copy of This Dark Endeavor up for grabs!
To be eligible to win all you need to do is be a follower of my blog and enter through Rafflecopter below.
This giveaway is open to Canada only (Sorry Internationals!)
Ends: December 20th

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This review and giveaway are posted as a part of the MEN in YA event (Nov 20th - Dec 20th)

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Cass said...

Brilliant review!! I so wish I had a copy of this book so I could read it for myself. It's definitely moving up my wishlist though, and those new covers are quite pretty.

I'm actually pretty ashamed, since I don't know that much about Frankenstein...

Tiffany Holme said...

I love the new version of the cover! I do like the old one too but given the choice the new one is awesome!
I have read some reviews on this book and had added it to my wish list but I love the little details that I got out of yours that I did not see in the the others. I would love to win a copy of this book and thank you so much for the chance!!

Yiota said...

Can't say i know much about Frankenstein either. I remember seeing this book in other blogs, and i actually didn't want to read it.
After your review! Hey! It just got really high on my TBR!!!
Seems really dark and creepy and fantastic!! Thanks so much for your review!

Too bad i can't take part at the contest too :p

Tristan said...

Hey Evie, Great review...I love the story of Frankenstein, I don't know how I've missed this book. I love the new covers too ;)
Tristan @ Reads With Wreckless Abandon

Giselle said...

Wow I had NO idea this was about Frankenstein!! How freaking awesome is this!? Great review Evie girl! :D

Xpresso Reads

Anonymous said...

I bought this the day it came out and then read it the day it came out, lol. Agreeing with all you said--and now waiting (somewhat) patiently for the next. Kenneth Oppel is on amazing author!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic review, Evie!

-Wendy from A Cupcake and a Latte: YA Reviews

manda-rae said...

I like the newer covers. Thanks for the great giveaway!

Evie said...

Thanks for commenting everyone! i love the new covers and am happy to hear that you find them beautiful too! :)

Thank you for stopping by and commenting! <3

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the giveaway. Interesting cover, I like it. The book sounds so interesting, I have to read it!

roro said...

I like the newer covers.been on my wishlist for a wile now/ bummr it's only canada
goodluck all

Evie said...

@roro - sorry! Publisher's request! If it was up to me I would always have International giveaways only :) There are some International giveaways coming up, tho, so stay tuned! :)

M.A.D. said...

Awesome review - and I LOVE those yummy covers!! Thanks for the sweet giveaway and I hope your Thanksgiving rocks! :D

Unknown said...

I really like the new covers, the old cover with that odd key thing kind of threw me off. It's got a much more serious look to it now. Though if I do get the first in hardcover, it probably won't match. ARG.

I love how this is a Canadian only giveaway by a Canadian author! Thanks so much for hosting it! (though I feel bad for int who can't participate)

Bookluvr Mindy said...

I wonder why I haven't heard of this one before! The trailer looks really good.

Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

Evie said...

@Kereesa I actually really love the old cover, too! The hardcover looks really beautiful and the picture is meaningful to the story in many ways.. It depicts the overall dark atmosphere of the book very well:)

@Mindy - thanks for stopping by! I like the trailer, too! :)

M.A.D - thanks a lot hun! :) fingers crossed! :)

Andra Lyn said...

I've got this arc chilling on the shelves...I can't believe I forgot about it! Since you liked it so much I'll have to dust it off and get down to it :) I love the new covers! Though I like the key-hole cover as well...

Evie said...

@Andra Dude, you better dust off this ARC, like, now ;) it's a beautiful book with a dark, eerie atmosphere - definitely a must-read! :)

Thanks for commenting! i really like the key-hole cover, too! although the new ones are very pretty, too!

Reading said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I like the new cover better. I just added this to my wish list, it keeps growing!

Evie said...

@Bethie, thanks for stopping by! Fingers crossed!

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

I love the sound of this. And cover wise, the new one, definitely!
One more foe the wishlist!

sablelexi said...

Thanks for the review. I was vaguely interested in this book before, but your review has definitely made me want to read this book.
While i like the original cover, the new cover is certainly eye catching, and since it matches the sequel that is a plus in its favor.
Jennelle S

Natalia Belikov said...

Dude! I am so so fraeking happy you love this book as much as I. I mean, your review totally tells me how MUCH you love it and I do agree with everything you say! Beautiful review my dear!! I wrote one about This Dark Endeavor, but your review puts mine to shame!!! I think your review does really do justice to what this book is! The writing specially O_O holy lord! I love so many many passage of this book! Victor's voice =, as you say, begs to be quoted!!

thank you so much for sharing such wonderful and eloquent thoughts!! ^____^

I loved the first cover but I do love the new ones too! I think both are very accurate to what the book is about =)

muah!! happy reading my dear! muah!

Chrystal said...

Oh! I have been eyeing this book FOREVER! I actually like both versions of the cover, but for different reasons. The original one caught my eye right away and I think that it would have drawn me in better than the redone cover BUT the new cover looks really nice with the cover for book two. I'm torn... LOL

Thanks for hosting this amazing CANADIAN giveaway!

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

This is a great review! I love the Men in YA that you're doing, it's so interesting. I have to say I kind of like the new cover they are doing for the next book. Keep the reviews coming!

Mandroid said...

I think the two covers say very different things. The old cover is more intriguing while the new covers just make it look like a historical romance.

Leslie @ Working for the Mandroid

Unknown said...

Great review! I like that you say his language is lyrical, sounds like a fun and intriguing read. As for the covers, I like both!



Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said...

Thanks for the giveaway! =) I'm not sure which cover I like better... my first inclination was to say the first one, but I really love the font on the new ones.

Emelie_C said...

Pick me! I love the front covers!

Genevieve Graham said...

That looks pretty awesome. Kenneth Oppel is terrific! I like both the covers, but I like whatever they've done to the colouring on the new ones. Antique but mystical. Just right.

Bonnie said...

Oh my goodness Evie thank you for writing such a fantastic review because I think that I have potentially found a new favourite book to add to the TBR challenge (totally will count!)

This book looks fantastic and I actually really liked the trailer (I'm not usually a lover of book trailers)... I maybe should keep it to myself that I was forced to wipe drool off my chin after looking at that library! :) Thanks so much for hosting this giveaway - *fingers crossed*

Giselle San Miguel said...

I love that you're showing Men in YA. It's such a great way to showcase new authors too! I bought this one (with the old cover) and I kind of like the older cover better. I can't wait to read it


Giselle @

Ammy Belle said...

OMG- new brilliant cvers! So awesome! Thanks so much for sharing - this is on my TBR list!

Ammy Belle

Jessica (Peace Love Books) said...

This book sounds so good!! I love how this secret library leads to so many problems, yet it's impossible not to go in again. Great review! I'd have to say I like the keyhole cover the best just because it's really creative! Thanks for the giveaway :)

Erin N said...

I love this review! I must say though, I have never read the books about Frankenstein or even really seen the old movies. I really wish that I had however. My dad had told me that he had seen the movie and it was pretty good.

As for the cover. I like the new one but I'm still partial to the old one. To me it has more of a mystery to it.

P.E. said...

Great review! I'm ashamed to say I wanted to read this book when I first saw it but forgot about it. :( It seems to deserve recognition though! I love the premise and the writing and the characters sound amazing.

I personally like the original cover. I don't know why, it's just more appealing to me. I like the colours there.

Thank you and HarperCollinsCa for the giveaway! :)

Melissa said...

I love, love, love Kenneth Oppel and I'm looking forward to reading this one. I love how each one of his books are so unique!

Bhand35 said...

Awesome review I hope this is as good as his Half Brother book.

I like the old cover.

Megan said...

Oooh, this sounds like such a cool book! I love retellings of classics and this one sounds great!

Megan said...

Oh, and I like the old cover better. The keyhole is cool!

Chapter by Chapter said...

I don't know which cover I love more! I've been eyeing this book for awhile. Thanks for the giveaway!
MaryAnn@Chapter by Chapter

Emelie_C said...

I love the covers!

Jay said...

I luv this blog! even more so that i know its canadian :) *yay*
Thanks for the giveaway


FireStarBooks said...

Thank you!!
I love the old cover way just feel more mysterious!! like looking into a key hole. :P

Stella Chen said...

I think this series looks amazing! I hope it has the same vibe as Department 19 by Will Hill.

Ps: Old cover FTW.

Adventurewithashley said...

Amazing review. I adore the old cover...the new covers are just too typical. The old one stood out.

Emelie_C said...

Pick me! I really want to read this book!

Kathy said...

Ok, this has just been bumped up on my TBR list. I have been intrigued by it for awhile now and this totally sold me. I am a huge fan of Mary Shelley's dark, heart wrenching tale so this is going to be amazing.

Already looking forward to it. Also, thank you for the contest!

Debdatta Dasgupta said...

Sounds pretty interesting! Adding to my evergrowing TBR list!!!

Andreeea said...

Great review. I read this book too and I just love it!! :) It's awesome!

Gaby said...

Just saw the trailer and it was awesome :D

Unknown said...

Wonderful review! I love the cover, I can't wait to read this book, I just bought it. Thanks!

Oanaaa. said...

I think this is one of my top 5 favourites, even though the cover is not incredible. But anyway, excelent review!

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