Thursday, September 19, 2013

Audio Book Review: Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

Title: Such Wicked Intent 
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Brilliance Audio)
Release Date: August 21st, 2012
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions: 
This cover works really well with that of the first in the series.  I love the font treatment and how the author's name is incorporated.  The muted colors are reflective of the tone.  I am really happy that Elizabeth is also featured on this one and the pose suggests familiarity and closeness without leaning to romance. 

The Gist: 
Having failed to save his twin brother from the clutches of death, Victor Frankenstein is ready to leave the world of the occult behind but, it seems, the fate is not quite finished with him.  He stumbles upon a portal to the spirit world and finds his brother in a strange, in-between state.  With his new found power and confidence, Victor, Elizabeth and Henry promise to bring Konrad back - by any means possible.  Even if it means dabbling in dark forces that they may not be able to control.


Such Wicked Intent tells the story of Victor Frankenstein's first steps on the path to creating one of the most feared and villified creatures in the literary world.  Victor is an incredible character who is both magnetic and repulsive.  The reader cannot help but root for him, even when he shows the most vile characteristics.  He is accompanied by is friend, Henry who, in this installment, shows some depth of character and begins to step out from behind the shadow of the Frankenstein twins.  While the other characters were interesting and complex, can someone please explain to me the draw of Elizabeth?  Is she the only teenage girl that these boys have been exposed to?  Why does EVERYONE fall in love with her?  In the first half of the book, she was shrill, annoying and nauseating in her piousness.  It is not until the spirit world begins to reveal the cracks in her perfect persona that I begin to even be able to tolerate her.  I often found myself rolling my eyes or even yelling at her for her actions (a common practice I have developed with irritating characters in audio books).

The creatures in this book are pretty terrifying.  One in the very obvious, deep down gut kind of terror and the other in the much more sinister, there's something wrong but I can't quite put my finger on it kind of way.  I absolutely loved the treatment of the butterflies and the crucial part that they played throughout the entire book.  I couldn't help hearing the voice of Bart Simpson in my head "Nobody ever suspects the butterfly..."  The world building in Such Wicked Intent was incredibly detailed.  The laws behind the Spirit World were clear and the possibilities that this setting opened up were endless.  It was clear from the beginning that the power held there would be far too tempting for Victor's own good, but it was also interesting to see the impact that it had on the other characters.

The pacing of this novel was spot on.  The darker aspects of the character's nature lend well to the sense of building tension.  There are some true moments of excitement and terror as we watch the characters explore the new world that has opened itself and battle the monsters that it has breathed forth.  I do hope that any further books will take the story beyond the halls of Chateau Frankenstein.  One could suspend disbelief at it having secret passageways, staircases and libraries but to now add a mysterious cave filled with dark and dangerous drawings - eventually the teens are going to have to search beyond the ancestral home for their next adventure.

I did have a few issues with the narrator for this audio book.  His voices for the young male characters were a little too close for easy understanding, but it was his female characters that were downright laughable.  They always came out oddly breathy and over-dramatic.  I was very glad that there were not more of them and that, other than Elizabeth, they didn't have much to say.  

I actually enjoyed Such Wicked Intent much more than the first in the series - a feat that happens very rarely.  I have not yet seen anything to indicate that there will be a third book, but I certainly hope that this is the case. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

13 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Fist Fighting, Swordplay, Attempted Rape
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse: None


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