Oppel, who I knew previously from his delightful Matt Cruse adventure series, takes a decided turn into true darkness with this imaginative and approp..Show More »riately frightening prequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Do you have to have read the original to appreciate this book? Not really. Although I think some things may hit a reader a bit more if they know exactly what is to come later in the lives of the characters.
In Oppel's vision of young Viktor Frankenstein, he is a complex boy who feels both great love and great jealousy for his twin brother Konrad. This conflict is a driving force in much of what he does, wanting to be better and better loved. His brother's mysterious illness spurs him to pursue the study of alchemy, in spite of their father's warnings that it will all come to no good.
Of course, the greatest conflict between brothers is their beautiful cousin Elizabeth. As in the Matt Cruse books, the female lead is much more than an object of desire; she joins Viktor in his dangerous quest to gather the ingredients for an elixir that will supposedly save his brother's life.
The last third of the book is particularly frightening, mostly because of how it shows how obsession can drive someone to do the most extreme things in the name of love.
If you like a dark adventure story with memorable characters, then this is just the book for you.