Next Author: Katharine Orton
Previous Author: Tochi Onyebuchi

Kenneth Oppel

Kenneth OppelAt age fifteen Kenneth Oppel wrote his first children’s novel, Colin’s Fantastic Video Adventure, and sent it to his favorite author, Roald Dahl. Dahl recommended the book to his own literary agent, and it was published in 1985. After graduating from high school Oppel attended the University of Toronto, where he studied English and cinema. He worked briefly as a children’s book editor before deciding to write full-time. He writes in different genres for children and young adults. Oppel lives in Toronto with his wife and their children. Learn more at Kenneth Oppel’s website.

Click here for more stories by Kenneth Oppel.

Darkwing: An excellent middle grade book

Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel

My nine-year-old son recently read Darkwing, an older book by Kenneth Oppel, and has been after me to read it myself because he thought I’d enjoy it and because he wanted to share the experience and talk about it. I’m glad he kept on me, because Darkwing was one of the best middle grade books I’ve read this past year. My son clearly thought so as well, since he had me read it aloud to him (including a two-hours-straight stretch) from the halfway point on, even though he’d just read it a few weeks earlier. That’s perhaps the best recommendation I can give.

Before Darkwing Oppel had already penned a contemporary fantasy series with bats as characters: Sunwing, Silverwing, and Firewing. One could call Darkwing Read More

This Dark Endeavor: A Frankenstein prequel

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavor is the first in a YA series of Frankenstein prequel books by Kenneth Oppel. To be honest, when I first heard of the book, I was a bit skeptical of the concept, unsure of what a prequel would offer that wouldn’t either be simply Frankenstein retold (“see the first time Victor creates life and how it goes bad!”) or wouldn’t trivialize Frankenstein’s characters and themes (“see young Victor try to resuscitate a beetle!”) But when I learned Oppel was the author, I was more than a little interested, as his Darkwing was one of my best reads of last year. And while not as good as Darkwing, This Dark Endeavor is well worth the read.

The stor... Read More

Such Wicked Intent: The exciting life of young Frankenstein continues

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

Such Wicked Intent is the follow-up to This Dark Endeavour and as such puts us two-thirds of the way through Kenneth Oppel’s YA trilogy detailing the early years of Victor Frankenstein. And as the book ends with a very well known scene from early in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, well, it’s clear we have just about fully plumbed those early years.

Which is too bad, because Oppel has, ahem, “brought to life” an intriguing Frankenstein character and story of his own. Before going much further, though, let me stop here for those who haven’t read the first book and say the quick take-away is that this is a series well worth picking up. Certainly for YA readers, but adults will also enjoy it, though it certainly has a YA feel and lacks a bit of the depth and subtlety of adult fiction. Those who ha... Read More

The Boundless: A thrilling and suspenseful MG adventure

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

A circus. A climactic battle atop a seven-mile long train. Automatons. Folklore-ic menace such as a hag who will drown you in her bog if you look into her eyes. Sasquatches. A train heist. An escape artist. A mesmerist. A plan to gain immortality. Rags to riches. Boy meets girl. Dreams to fight for. A villain willing to kill to get what he wants.

You have to hand it to Kenneth Oppel. In his newest Middle Grade (MG) novel, The Boundless, he throws around three or four novel's worth of plot elements. But thanks to his consummate skill as a plotter, the novel never feels cluttered. And thanks to his skill as a writer, the reader is rewarded with more than simple (or not so simple) plot; we also get some winning characters to root for, some troubling complexities of ethics and morality, and some social criticism with regard to class and ethnic discrimination. All of which make... Read More

Bloom: A scary plant pandemic that now seems possible

Reposting to include Bill's new review.

Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

Three kids battle an invasive plant in Kenneth Oppel’s latest middle grade fantasy. Bloom (2020) is mysterious and thrilling all the way through. Our heroes are:

Anaya, who’s allergic to almost everything.

Petra, who’s allergic to water. She used to be Anaya’s best friend until Anaya betrayed her.

Seth, the new kid in town who’s being fostered by farmers.

When black weeds appear suddenly and grow tall overnight, nobody knows what they are, even Anaya’s botanist father. The townsfolk pull out and chop down the weeds but they just come back the next day. Nothing kills them.

It’s soon discovered that these weeds are growing all over the planet and causing severe... Read More

Hatch: Oppel’s alien invasion remains full of action

Hatch by Kenneth Oppel

Hatch (2020) is Kenneth Oppel’s continuation of his MG alien invasion tale that began with Bloom. Oppel maintains the fast-paced excitement, keeping his focus on the three young protagonists Petra, Anaya, and Seth, while adding a few new characters as well. Fans of book one will not be disappointed, save by a killer of a cliffhanger ending. Inevitable spoilers for book one ahead.

In the first book, aliens were softening up Earth and preparing it for their impending invasion by seeding our planet with various deadly plant species that weren’t just dangerous to touch or eat but were actively carnivorous, though their biggest danger was a growth rate that was quickly obliterating humanity’s food crops. Meanw... Read More

More books by Kenneth Oppel

Matt Cruse — (2004-2009) Young adult. Publisher: Sailing toward dawn, and I was perched atop the crow’s nest, being the ship’s eyes. We were two nights out of Sydney, and there’d been no weather to speak of so far. I was keeping watch on a dark stack of nimbus clouds off to the northwest, but we were leaving it far behind, and it looked to be smooth going all the way back to Lionsgate City. Like riding a cloud… Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt’s always wanted; convinced he’s lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist’s granddaughter that he realizes that the man’s ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious. In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

YA fantasy book reviews Kenneth Oppel Matt Cruse 1. Airborn 2. Skybreaker 3. StarclimberYA fantasy book reviews Kenneth Oppel Matt Cruse 1. Airborn 2. Skybreaker 3. StarclimberYA fantasy book reviews Kenneth Oppel Matt Cruse 1. Airborn 2. Skybreaker 3. Starclimber

The Live-Forever Machine

The Live-Forever Machine — (1990) Publisher: The award-winning author of the ‘Silverwing’ books here offers a story about two men who, in A.D. 391, discovered the secret of immortality, and who have since then been engaged in a running battle, one attempting to destroy the past, the other attempting to preserve it; when a fourteen-year-old boy accidentally comes across their secret, he unwittingly becomes involved in the struggle.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsDead Water Zone — (1992) Publisher: When 16-year-old Paul travels to Watertown in a desperate attempt to track down his ill brother Sam, he finds himself thrown into an eerie, illicit world where he can trust no one. Then he meets, Monica, a mysterious girl with her own secret reasons for helping him. Together Paul and Monica must confront their own fears to find Sam.