Life is, on the whole, delightful for Victor—despite that his kinder and more amicable brother is the favourite among the household. Victor’s not so good with people—in fact, they think him rather entitled and more than a little haughty. He is—but he also grapples with the issue of wanting to be as loved as his twin.
Especially since Elizabeth prefers Konrad, and Victor is slowly coming to understand that he loves her. When Konrad falls ill to a mysterious disease, Victor turns to the forbidden lore of the Dark Library to find a cure.
This could be a standard love triangle, but having the identical twins allows Oppel to explore the idea of balances—lights and shadows, goodness and darkness, science and religion, knowledge and faith. It asks question of how far we go for those we love and what we can rely on when we claim not to believe in anything.
This Dark Endeavour ticks a lot of the boxes I find interesting—alchemy, twins, quests, adventure, strong females, and a narrator who isn’t your typical lovable protagonist. The issue with reading something about an established literary character is that you can’t depend on a plot to “surprise” you—because you know the destination. What you’re reading for is the journey.
This is absolutely worth the trip. Oppel combines interesting characters who I came to care about with clean prose full of humor, passion, and danger. I felt for Victor—I cheered for him, despite that I knew it had to all go terribly wrong at some point. I loved Elizabeth and her strength and I didn’t find her behaviour to be anachronistic, because the other characters acknowledge that it’s unusual-for-the-time and “wild.”
I enjoyed the historical setting and felt like there was a sense of Geneva and the time period without it being overwhelming or too detailed in the descriptions. Everything played out in my mind like a movie, so I can see why the film rights have already sold to Summit Entertainment. We always need more adventure stories in the teen section, and I enjoyed the quest element of this one—it reminded me of playing an RPG (forget movie, this would be a great video game).
What really pulled me through the story, however, is Victor himself. In less capable hands, he could easily be a very unsympathetic narrator, but Oppel makes the young Frankenstein believable. Victor’s a fascinating character—someone who knows he’s flawed but still tries to do what he believes to be right. More importantly, he can convince us to go along with him.
That’s the real alchemy of Oppel’s tale, he’s taken a character whom many of us know the “fate” of and managed to give us this fleeting hope that things could possibly turn out differently. Even knowing they won’t, I still want to see that journey from where This Dark Endeavour ends to where Frankenstein begins.
This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein is available August 30th from HarperCollins Canada. Thank you to them for providing the ARC.
Have you seen the Teen Summer Reading Series shop on chapters.indigo.ca? Not only is it your one-stop place to pick up titles from our Teen Summer Reading Series authors, but it's also where you'll be voting to choose the #1 Teen Summer Read for 2011.
Tell your friends, make teams, and get voting!
Remember that the Teen Summer Reading Series interviews post here on Thursdays, and keep following @IndigoTeenBlog for the giveaways all Summer long.
There are twenty titles this month that I think you'll enjoy, but I've got to say that July—in general—appears to have fewer teen titles releasing than previous months. Also: Not sure I feel mermaids are better than books about Hades, but it's nice to see multiple trends sharing the shelves this year.
The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills by Joanna Pearson—An amatuer anthropologist finds her careful study of her high school thrown all of sorts when one of those Hot Boys shows an interest in performing some mating rituals with her.
Lost Voices by Sarah Porter—Mermaids as girls who have given up on life (a book that asks WHY mermaids/sirens want to drown sailors). Probably not a cheery read, but it's a very interesting take. Remote Alaskan setting. First book in a new trilogy.Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray—Summer means Shakespeare! Here's a modern retelling of the Hamlet and Ophelia romance from Ophelia's perspective. I'll probably read this just for the fact that Opehlia doesn't commit suicide in it.
Pretty Little Liars #9: Twisted by Sara Shepard—Did you think solving Alison's murder was the end of the Pretty Little Liars? Yeah, me too, so it looks like we're both pleasantly surprised.
Luminous by Dawn Metcalf—The cover for this one on goodreads made me stop and go "Whoa, what's that one?" It sounds complex and original; I also like that it has a latina protagonist (or she may be Hispanic).My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert Jeschonek—The main character is convinced his life is a novel written by a malicious author plotting to kill him in Chapter 64. I like the wierd ones. A lot.
Dragon’s Oath by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (July 12)—House of Night is getting a mini-series of novellas about fencing instructor Bryan Lankford. Here is novella #1.
Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia (July 12)—Three girls meet each summer at a boarding school in Switzerland. Think the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants featuring an Iranian princess, a cuban-Jewish New Yorker and a German-Canadian but without the shared denim.
Starstruck by Cyn Balog (July 12)—So it's a bit of friends fall in love, but it's over the internet, and then it may turn out that one of them has joined the Luminati.
Love Story by Jennifer Echols (July 19)—It's a romance novel. About a boy and girl in a creative writing program in NYC with a complicated Kentucky past who write sexy stories about each other.
Ripple, by Mandy Hubbard (July 19)—Lexi is a siren. Lexi must swim each night. Lexi must choose between a new hottie at school and a sexy water spirit.Supernaturally by Kiersten White (July 26)—The second in the Paranormalcy series featuring Evie kicking butt and cracking jokes and being so very not normal.
Wildefire by Karsten Knight (July 26)—Sisters at odds, new schools, wars between gods & godesses, and Polynesian mythology! Plus, a guy author writes a convincing girl POV. Well done, Mr. Knight.
Let's say your parents had a lot of money. You had the best of everything and ruled the school. Now, let's say your father ran off with your friends' parents money and you had to leave town in disgrace. Imagine having to return to that town and finding out the guy who lives in your former residence—and now has all of your former friends—is someone that you might actually want to date.
That's sort of the set-up for She's So Dead to Us, the riches to rags and rags to riches story of Ally Ryan and Jake by Kieran Scott. He's So Not Worth It, the second installment of this contemporary fiction trilogy, released earlier this summer just in time for a trip to The Shore.
Indigo Teen Blog: What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?
Kieran Scott: I have so many books on my list it’s ridiculous, but the two I’m most looking forward to reading are the final books in two of my favorite trilogies, Jenny Han’s We’ll Always Have Summer and Maggie Steifvater’s Forever. I’ve also wanted to read Shanghai Girls by Lisa See for a while. The sequel just came out so I’ve really got to get to the first one already! Maybe when I hit the shore later in the summer.
ITB: What's been your most memorable summer read and why?
KS: I distinctly remember reading Maeve Binchy’s Scarlet Feather on the beach a while back. I loved the characters so much I couldn’t put it down. I think I got a sunburn reading it because I forgot to re-apply sunscreen! I also read Confessions of a Shopaholic for the first time over a summer and it inspired me NOT to go clothing shopping in the fall. Binchy and Kinsella are two of my favorite authors. I read everything they write.
ITB: Describe your ideal summer day?
KS: I would definitely be on Long Beach Island—my favorite place on the Jersey Shore and where He’s So Not Worth It is set—with my family. We’d get up and ride our bikes to our favorite breakfast place and eat outside while the world came slowly to life around us. Then we’d spend the rest of the day playing, reading and dozing on the beach. We’d stay until the lifeguards quit for the day and everyone started to pack it in, so we could watch the beach get really quiet. After the sun went down we’d go out to dinner and for ice cream and maybe catch a good summer movie (something with superheroes or romance—or both), then fall asleep with the windows open listening to the surf. Hmmm... Can you tell I’ve thought about this a bit?
ITB: Summer eats/treats you can’t live without?
KS: Sweet New Jersey corn on the cob is a must. I also love it when blueberries and strawberries are in season. But let’s be honest here, I’m all about the ice cream. Every year I get a Chipwich or two on the beach. And hot dogs at Yankee Stadium, of course.
ITB: Why did you choose to write the She’s So Dead to Us trilogy from both Ally and Jake’s POVs?
KS: I love writing first person, so that was a no-brainer, but what really intrigued me was writing from a guy’s point of view. I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could get inside the head of someone so different from me. I’ve also always loved books from different points of view in which you can really hear the different voices. Jennifer Weiner’s great at it, Maeve Binchy as well. Dean Koontz and Anne Rice were big favorites of mine as a teen and I think it’s because they had that ability to make different POV’s so unique and genuine. I hope I pulled it off, too!
ITB: I have to ask since you’re from New Jersey… Is the Jersey Shore at all a true representation of your state?
KS: Um, no. I actually have an idea to do a commercial about New Jersey where I just go around to all the awesome, down-to-earth, smart, creative, athletic, inspiring, intelligent, successful people I know and have them look into the camera and say “I’m New Jersey.” Because the people on that show are not representative of this amazing state I live in.
ITB: Can you tell us a little bit more about the @AnnietheNorm twitter?
KS: I had this idea to give Annie a twitter account because in the books I’m always referencing how much she loves to dish about the Cresties on twitter and facebook. So I started it up, all excited, but then let it go because I couldn’t figure out what timeframe she would be tweeting in. But THIS summer, I’m taking it to a whole new level because He’s So Not Worth It came out at the beginning of the summer and really takes the reader from June to September, so I now have a timeline to follow. Annie’s going to be tweeting inside info and secrets in “real time” along with the timeline of the book this summer. Look for lots of tweets around major events in the book, like July Fourth weekend and the end of summer bash at Faith’s, but there will also be so juicy tidbits about Will, Chloe, Jake, David, Marshall, Shannen and Faith in between.
Thanks to Kieran for answering our questions and our friends at Simon & Schuster Canada for arranging the interview.
Follow our Teen Summer Reading Series:Libba Bray
I wouldn’t say The Hunger Games, as much, because I don’t believe Katniss ever had the delusion that her world was perfect. The same thing can be said for Saba in Blood Red Road. But these two books are considered dystopian titles—as well as Lauren DeStefano’s Wither and Jo Triggiari’s Ashes, Ashes.
I’m uncertain if a cynical distrust of our world won’t allow us to even present possible futures as perfect or if it’s a result of transparency asking us to be upfront about the world from the get go. I do believe the decision impacts the kind of story we’re told—and has a lot to do with the character who is telling us the story.
One of the first teen dystopian series I read was Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies—which is literally about the cost of a Pretty world and the beauty of being an Uglie. Thinking about it, one could argue Tally-wa’s ending isn’t any happier than Katniss’s. Freedom always comes at a great cost in a dystopian series.
But why is this genre so popular? For the sake of answering this question, let’s agree that dytopia is a useful and powerful genre. Perhaps it’s as simple as that in the face of such bleakness, hope shines that more brilliantly, and who doesn’t want a reminder that the world can be worth fighting for?
We all become disillusioned with life at some point. We realize things aren’t exactly as we were promised. Cynicism is a real killer, and it preys on a lot of teens.
Dystopias—in the teen section—are usually about the current power and authority structures being corrupt and oppressive. Why a teen would connect with that idea should be a no-brainer. Adolescence is when we start really questioning authority and the values of our parents. We think things are wrong and we believe we can make them better. Or we don’t believe we can—and that’s why a book like Divergent is so important, because it makes us reconsider how helpless we actually are.
Teen dystopias are about revolutions, because that’s what being a teenager is about. Also, it’s around the teen years when we start to learn that not every one gets a happy ending. Mockingjay remains one of the strongest examinations I’ve ever read of what future generation’s happy endings can cost the current generation.
So yes, on the surface dystopian fiction can seem like a mass of anger and cynicism and violence, but beneath the surface are underlying themes and ideas that speak to teen readers. Life is intense as a teen; everything feels like an extreme. You’ve got all this energy and these ideas and it sometimes feels like no one is listening. Teens have a million revolutions a year, so of course, they’re looking for the empowering fiction that’s going to help them work those feelings out.
Why do you read dystopia fiction? Which title is your current favourite?
Blood Red Road is Moira Young's debut novel, and it has been getting attention from the Los Angeles Times and The Globe and Mail. Saba goes searching across the shifting sands and through Hopetown to find her missing twin brother, Lugh after he's taken from their home by cloaked riders. Part True Grit, part The Road, with a dash of Hunger Games or Gladiator, Blood Red Road is the first novel in a brutal Wild West dystopia trilogy.
Indigo Teen Blog: What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?
Moira Young: I’ve read about half of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, so my summer recreational reading treat is to read the rest of them.
ITB: What's been your most memorable summer read and why?
MY: When I was about 11 or 12, I made a tent in the backyard from a smelly old blanket that our ginger tomcat used to sleep on. No one else was allowed to enter the sacred space, particularly my younger sisters. There, I spent the summer eating processed cheese sandwiches on white bread and reading the same six Tiger Beat magazines over and over again until I’d worn the paper thin with my feverish perusal. I learned many life-altering facts about Donny Osmond and David Cassidy. Now I realise it was all made up by bored hack journalists. Still, it might be possible that Donny Osmond’s favourite colour is purple.
ITB: Describe your ideal summer day?
MY: I would transport myself back to my childhood for a Sunday picnic. Our extended family of grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins—perhaps 20 of us—would meet up in Stanley Park in Vancouver. The raffia picnic baskets and cool boxes would disgorge their miraculous contents and be spread out on long picnic tables and we’d eat from paper plates and drink forbidden sodas. Afterwards, we kids would chase and play and shout while the grown ups gossiped mildly of deaths and births and scandals. Then, as the shadows started to grow long, we’d pack our baskets, load the cars and go our separate ways. I’d give anything to have one of those days again. When I had no thoughts of growing up. When I had no idea that one day there would be empty spaces at the long table.
ITB: Summer eats/treats you can't live without?
MY: A long, cool gin and tonic with ice and lemon.
ITB: How did you develop the dialect Saba uses?
MY: In early versions of what would become Blood Red Road, I was simply using different words every now and again; for objects, natural events, people and so on. But I realised that that wouldn’t do, so I started to think about how English is constantly changing. The way we spoke two hundred years ago is not as we speak now, nor will it be the way English is spoken two hundred years in the future. I had to think about the kind of world my characters would be living in and the kinds of lives they would be leading, because that dictates how people speak. It took me a long time to find Saba’s voice, but when I did, it came quite easily. Of course, the characters’ voices are born of the writer’s many inner voices, so the language of the book reflects where I’ve been, what I’ve done and who I’ve met in my life.
ITB: Where do you imagine Blood Red Road as taking place?
MY: Somewhere vast and expansive, with plains and mountains. My own inner visual landscape comes from growing up in Canada, on the West Coast and the prairies, but it could take place anywhere that fits that description. Australia, Russia, Asia, South America, Africa—wherever the reader’s visual landscape comes from. Saba’s world is dry and dead and harsh, but it wasn’t always that way.
ITB: Was there a character who surprised you as you wrote? Were any of the characters particularly difficult to write? Why?
MY: Jack always surprised me and continues to do so. I don’t actually write him, he writes himself. The moment he appears on the page, my fingers fly over the computer keys. I have a hard time keeping up with him. The hardest character in this first book was Vicar Pinch, the King. Villains are much more difficult to write than heroes.
Thanks to Moira for answering our questions, and to the good folks at Random House Canada for arranging the interview.
Follow our Teen Summer Reading Series:Sarah Dessen
Seeing how it’s Canada Day this week, I started thinking about CanLit. I don’t mean Margaret Atwood or Michael Ondaajte. Most of us can agree that Kelley Armstrong is the queen of Canadian Teen Fiction, but Canada is full of talented authors. I could come up with the following list of authors who live in Canada—or were born here and now live elsewhere—without having to think too hard, and I guarantee there are even more writers across our country working on the next great Canadian Teen novel.
While good stories aren’t dependant on your location, the world always needs more Canada. So how about putting some more in your summer reading pile?
Joelle Anthony—Restoring Harmony
Kelley Armstrong—The Gathering
Erin Bow—Plain Kate
Don Calame—Swim the Fly
Megan Crewe—Give Up The Ghost
Charles de Lint—The Painted Boy
Cory Doctorow—For The Win
Sheree Fitch—Pluto's Ghost
Janet Gurtler—I’m Not Her
Alyxandra Harvey—Haunting Violet
Lesley Livingston—Once Every Never
Carrie Mac—The Gryphon Project
Maureen McGowan—Sleeping Beauty Vampire Hunter
Kenneth Oppel—Half Brother
Jo Treggiari—Ashes, Ashes
Allison van Diepen—The Vampire Stalker
Tim Wynne-Jones—Blink & Caution
Moira Young—Blood Red Road
Happy Canada Day!
Last summer, Kelley Armstrong won the Best Canadian Read Award in our Teen Read Awards, so when we decided to run a series of summer author interviews, we had Kelley at the top of our list.
The Gathering, Kelley's newest YA, begins her new Darkness Rising trilogy, and ENTHRALLED, the anthology she co-edited with Melissa Marr and featuring authors from last year's Smart Chicks Kick It Tour, will be available September 20th.
Indigo Teen Blog: What made you decide to set The Gathering on Vancouver Island?
Kelley Armstrong: I needed cougars (the feline variety). While they can be found all along the Pacific Northwest, I wanted to avoid anything near the Twilight setting (or that made a good excuse for picking Canada instead!) Van Isle has the densest population of cougars in North America—though islanders can still live their lives there and never see one.
ITB: If it were up to you, would you rather see your novels adapted as graphic novels or films?
KA: On a personal level, graphic novels. That would be a great opportunity to see the books come to life as I imagined them. Movies are a version of the book, rather than a faithful adaptation. In the right hands, that could make an even better story. In the wrong hands, it could disappoint and upset readers. Overall, from a career perspective, though, movies or TV would get me a lot bigger audience :)
ITB: If you could go on a picnic with one of your characters who would you choose? Why?
KA: Well, none of the werewolves, because they'd eat all the food. I'd pick Maya [from The Gathering] and a woodland setting. She's so at home in the forest that she'd know all the great spots to explore afterward.
ITB: Which books are you looking forward to reading this summer?
KA: I'll avoid picking favourites in fiction by instead pointing to a stack of research books growing beside my desk. I've been collecting books on Norse mythology, omens and superstitions, and Celtic folklore for a two upcoming series, and I can't wait to dive back into them after a few months off.
ITB: What's been your most memorable summer read and why?
KA: I spent one summer reading Les Miserables years ago, and it pretty much took all summer, so that one has stuck in my head as a great summer read.
ITB: Describe your ideal summer day.
KA: A sunny, warm day at a cottage, just hanging out with my family, swimming, hiking, etc. We usually rent a cabin or beach-house in a different spot in Canada each year. We won't be doing that this year—it didn't work out with our schedules—and I'll miss it.
ITB: Is there a summer treat you can't live without?
KA: Chocolate banana smoothies. That's my go-to breakfast when the heat settles in. Light, cold and refreshing...with chocolate.
Check out this trailer for The Gathering:
photo credit: Curtis Lantinga and Doubleday Canada.
Follow our Teen Summer Reading Series:Libba Bray
You may have noticed over the past month the book discussions with and guestposts from Melanie Fishbane. I’m happy to share with you that she’s joining Indigo Teen Blog as an official contributor. From this week forward, she’ll be sharing her passion and knowledge about teen books through weekly posts. Welcome, Melanie!
You may already know her from Community (the online booklovers community, not the TV show), as she’s chapters.indigo.ca’s Teens' Editor & Kids' Editor and one of Indigo’s online merchandisers. She’s also the face behind @IndigoKidsBlog, so add her to the tweeps you follow.
What’s really exciting about having Melanie joining the blog officially is that she has extensive knowledge of contemporary YA fiction. I tend to read very fantasy-heavy, so this means that Indigo Teen Blog will be a more balanced representation of everything from the section. As she’s in Toronto and I’m in British Columbia, the blog now really is all across Canada.
Summer marks the beginning of one more very cool thing: The Indigo Teen Blog Summer Reading Interview Series!
Starting this week and running for the next nine weeks, we’ll be posting an interview a week with great YA authors talking about their latest book and favorite summer things. And who better to kick things off than Kelley Armstrong?
I'm low on contemporary YA releases this month. Sorry about that. I found a lot of books about ghosts if it helps.
Things I've been most excited for this month include The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan, Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter, and Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston. Also found some great titles like Blood Red Road by Moira Young, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, and Hourglass by Myra McEntire.
Ashes, Ashes by Jo Tregglari is a dystopia set in NYC after 99% of the population has been wiped out (I'm concluding it was a smallpox epidemic from the book jacket, but I might be misunderstanding). Lucy lives in the wilds of Central Park, but then she meets Aiden and joins up with a group of survivors. And for some reason the Sweepers—who clear out plague bodies—want her...
Possession by Elana Johnson The cover reminds me of Ally Condie's Matched, and from the book jacket summary I'd say this is a good pick for people who enjoyed Matched. I mean that in a nice way, mostly because I've heard a lot of people are enjoying Possession.
Forgotten by Cat Patrick sounds really intriguing. The premise that it's main character, London Lane, can only remember the future because every night at 4:33 am her memory of the previous day has been erased.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young—think True Grit meets The Road with a little bit of The Hunger Games. Young's debut is an amazing new old frontier dystopia journey of a sister to save her brother. I found the way it's written in phonetic spelling to be a little off-putting, but persevere, because it's a great book.
Witches of the East End by Melissa de la Cruz Hey, Blue Blood fans! This is de la Cruz's first adult novel, but it ties into the world you know and love. Telling the story of the beauchamp family, it's got magic, mythology and romance.
Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman: I am compelled to inform you of every book in the teen section that Hades mades an appearance in. Frienemies get taken away from their war over fashion to act as Sirens who lure those who have run out of time on their Underworld contracts. And I kind of think that sounds AMAZING.
How I stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain wins for Most Interesting Title this month. It's about a guy named David and a girl named Zelda—who claims she's a space alien who has come to take Johnny Depp back to her home planet.
Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: I was flipping through this book in the store earlier this week, and I am fascinated by how it uses vintage photographs to help tell its creepy tale. @Chapters_Guelph says: "Miss Penegrine's Home for Peculiar Children a must read for summer."
Bad Girls Don’t Die: From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender: The follow-up to Bad Girls Don't Die, From Bad to Cursed sees Alexis wrapped up in danger again—but this time it's not her sister, but her who has gone from bad to cursed.
The Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan the amazing conclusion to The Demon's Lexicon trilogy (The Demon's Lexicon, The Demon's Covenant). I read most of Surrender in a single sitting, because I could not put it down. It's so good—and you need to read this trilogy, too. Here is our interview with Sarah Rees Brennan.
Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston: the best-selling author of the Wondrous Strange trilogy returns with a brand new book just in time for summer. Druid curses, mysteries, and love rescue Clarinet from a summer vacation in dullsville.
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma: Ok, I picked this one up off the shelf mostly based on its amazing cover, but I've also heard good things about the story from Twitter.
Passion by Lauren Kate is the third of the Fallen novels. This one may reveal Daniel and Luce's shared past.
The Revenant by Sonia Gensler is a historical mystery set in 1896. It involves a girl borrowing the identity of a classmate to go become a teacher on at the Cherokee Female Seminary. Boarding schools, race relations, ghosts and people who aren't who they say they are. Sounds like a good read to me.
Hourglass by Myra McEntire: Again, I'm totally in love with this cover—and very intrigued by its premise. The Hourglass is a consultant group that has offered to help "cure" Emerson Cole's ability to see ghosts. But their consultant Michael insists that he needs Emerson's help to prevent a death that should have never happened.
Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter: I like books that don't involve paranormal or science fiction or magic, too. But only if they have kick-butt Master Thieves like Kat Bishop and Hale. Uncommon Criminals is the follow-up to the brilliant Heist Society.
Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey: I've been looking forward to this tale of a Spiritualist hoax mother-daughter duo, who learns she can acutally see ghosts. A murder mystery set in England, 1872.
Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley: This one is contemporary times and a mother-daughter hypnotist duo who leave Las Vegas for the mother's southern hometown. Willow (the daughter) accidentally hypnotizes the quarterback to fall madly in love with her and hijinks ensue.