Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Plot Summary:
Unable to deal with the death of his twin brother, Konrad, Victor roams the chateau aimlessly, looking for a reason to go on. After destroying the forbidden library where Victor, Konrad, Elizabeth, and Henry roamed in search of a cure for Konrad's illness, Victor stumbles upon an item that does not burn in the fires. What Victor doesn't realize is that this "book" contains a secret that goes all they way back to his great-great-great grandfather Wilhelm Frankenstein. Revitalized, and back to his old tricks, Victor learns that the items in this box contains parts to a spirit machine that will allow him to talk to his brother once again. However, when Elizabeth learns of Victor's latest scheme, she is worried and scared that if Victor goes to far there is no turning back. After building the spirit machine, he must know learn how to make it work. Interestingly enough, with Henry's help, the clues to operating this machine can be found in a portrait of his great-grandfather, which leads to the family chapel that hasn't been used in a long time. With a little muscle, and brains, the group of curious teens find their way into an abandoned office, hidden from those who weren't looking for it. Here is where Victor finds the key to the spirit machine and grants him a few precious moments with his deceased Konrad. Thrilled, and happy, Victor can actually talk to his brother, but Konrad is frightened. The question that he must ask is does purgatory really exist and what is scaring his brother? Are there other spirits in this house? These are the questions he must solve in order to protect his brother , but at what price will Victor pay from passing between the land of the living and the dead? What is the creature that is lurking in the house and beneath the foundation of Chateau Frankenstein?

Critical Evaluation:
All I can really say is...wow. Kenneth Oppel has provided readers with the foundation as to why Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with life and death. Unable to deal with the loss of his brother, Victor is in pieces. He made his brother a promise and he was willing to do everything he can to bring Konrad back. However, what we also see is the power of this character's intellect, will, and never ending curiosity. Although he seems  arrogant and selfish, we see an individual who will not settle for mediocre ideas and traditions. In many ways, Victor Frankenstein is not any different than the average teenager who longs to know the secrets of this world and find meaning in everything we do. Despite the fact that he is coveting his brother's girlfriend, this exposes his greatest flaws: being vulnerable. Konrad, according to Victor, is everything he is not and that does not make him feel worthy of love and happiness. In many respects, the twin motif of a good twin and evil twin are explored and proven that this idea may not be what it really is. Clearly, these two boys have been given equal amounts of attentions and affection for the same of girl, which were reciprocated differently. However, this doesn't make Victor evil because of his willingness to give up his body for Konrad. Generally, evil twins wouldn't make such a sacrifice so it shows the loyalty and the love this teen has for his brother. Moreover, by refusing his brother's offer, Konrad crosses over accepting the fact that it was his time to die and allow his love ones to get on with their lives .  With this decision, Konrad definitely shows how mature he is because he has accepted his death and wants to move on for the sake of his family and eternal soul. Victor, on the other hand, refuses to live his life without Konrad so it conveys that Victor is dependent on his twin not just for moral support, but someone to validate who he is. In other other words, Victor needs Konrad; whereas, Konrad doesn't need Victor. Do we assume that Victor's madness stems from the fear of being alone? Did Dr. Frankenstein create his "monster" because he wanted his flesh blood to live again or was there another motive? Readers will definitely be clamoring for Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein." 

Information about the Author:
According to his website:
I was born in Port Alberni, a mill town on Vancouver Island, British Columbia but spent the bulk of my childhood in Victoria, B.C. and on the opposite coast, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.At around twelve I decided I wanted to be a writer (this came after deciding I wanted to be a scientist, and then an architect). I started out writing sci-fi epics (my Star Wars phase) then went on to swords and sorcery tales (my Dungeons and Dragons phase) and then, during the summer holiday when I was fourteen, started on a humorous story about a boy addicted to video games (written, of course, during my video game phase). It turned out to be quite a long story, really a short novel, and I rewrote it the next summer. We had a family friend who knew Roald Dahl - one of my favourite authors - and this friend offered to show Dahl my story. I was paralysed with excitement. I never heard back from Roald Dahl directly, but he read my story, and liked it enough to pass on to his own literary agent. I got a letter from them, saying they wanted to take me on, and try to sell my story. And they did.
I did my BA at the University of Toronto (a double major in cinema studies and English) and wrote my second children's novel The Live-Forever Machine in my final year, for a creative writing course. I married the year after graduation and spent the next three years in Oxford, where my wife was doing doctoral studies in Shakespeare. Since then we've lived in Newfoundland, Dublin -- and Toronto, where we now live with our three children

Genre:
Teen Fantasy, Teen Adventure

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up
 

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Awards & Recognition:

From Amazon.com:

* "Printz honor-winner Oppel skillfully portrays [Victor] as both a troubled teen and the boy who would become Frankenstein. Addictions and lustful encounters add another layer of sophistication to the gothic melodrama. A standout sequel and engrossing ghost story."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Everything readers love about Oppel is here: his fierce intelligence; baroque but concise prose; developed, unsentimental characters; and ability to keep his eye on the prize—in this case, the stubborn, yet somehow still likable, character of Victor and his slow road to becoming Mary Shelley’s mad scientist."--Booklist

"Oppel’s second book in The Dark Endeavor Chronicles is every bit as thrilling and engaging as the first one.... Oppel’s character development is exceptional, and it is clear that he has done his research. The book draws readers in from the beginning and continues to create suspense as the characters go in and out of the spirit world, where dark creatures lurk. Fans of both Oppel’s first book and Shelley’s original work will not be disappointed."--VOYA

"Kenneth Oppel creates a darkly Gothic world so unique it’s not bound by literary traditions.... Mr. Oppel is an expert storyteller and an outstanding world builder."--NY Journal of Books

"Vividly descriptive language and further development of complex main characters keep the narrative intense and engaging.... The improbable doesn’t seem so impossible thanks to Oppel’s impressive storytelling ability."--The Horn Book

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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