I find Orson Scott Card to be problematic. On the one hand, he is clearly a deeply talented writer. On the other hand, I find a lot of his personal views to be bigoted, closed mined, and offensive. But his best work is always about how through love comes understanding and if Mr. Card himself doesn’t always live up to that, well, he’s only human so I’ll forgive him as much as I can and enjoy his books while I may.
The Beginning Place is about finding home and the people who make it. It’s about leaving behind the things that don’t work. It’s about growing up. The Beginning Place is about confusing the hell out of me so I spend the last quarter of the book with my face scrunched up in bewilderment.
On the whole, it wasn’t a bad book but I don’t know that I can say it was good either. It definitely should not be the first Ursula K. Le Guin book you read. The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed are considered classics for a reason, start with those and branch out into the rest of the Hainish cycle and go on from there. Only read The Beginning Place if you become a big enough fan of Ms. Le Guin to want to read ALL of her things. And even then, you can probably skip it.
Once again, Kenneth Oppel is brilliant at creating realistic characters. Victor Frankenstein is arrogant, reckless, stubborn, and not a little selfish. But his grief and guilt over his brother are genuine, as are his bravery, loyalty, and endless curiosity. You can easily see how when Victor stumbles across these mysteries, he’s compelled and driven (by a variety of factors, not all of which are noble) to follow their dark paths as far as he can. Mr. Oppel paints of clear picture of the type of person Victor is and how his actions will eventually lead to him becoming THE Victor Frankenstein.
When his twin brother Konrad falls ills, young Victor Frankenstein teams up with his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and their timid friend Henry to use forbidden alchemical knowledge to find a (potentially deadly) cure. Will they find the cure in time? Will they be betrayed by the people they trust? Will they be pecked to death by vultures? Tune in to find out!