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Friday, 6 August 2010

The Live-Forever Machine - Kenneth Oppel

The Live-Forever Machine
Kenneth Oppel (blog)
Harper Collins
ISBN 9780006485605

This story is told in a classic science fiction style. It reminds me of early Robert A. Heinlein or Piers Anthony. It is very well written and draws the reader in and captures the imagination; you keep turning the pages wondering what will happen next, and often it is not what you first expected. If it was written in homage to Sci-Fi masters from old it achieved its goal, and if it was just written as a story, it was exceedingly well done.

It is the story of Eric, a fourteen-year-old who is tall and gangly - a bookworm and history buff. He lives across the street from the museum of history and spends time there every day. It started when he was young, as trips with his father, and now is just part of his routine. Each trip he tries to find 5 new facts to memorize. On one such visit he witnesses a confrontation between a museum curator and an intense young man, who smells of smoke, and oil and machines. As the two war, first with words and then ancient weapons, Eric realizes something is off. The curate dropped
something in their tussle, and Eric retrieves it; it is a locket painted on wood and dated from 1445 and is a beautiful woman named Gabriella della Signatura. The picture captivates Eric, and though he doesn't want to return it, he does, only to discover that the curator is named Alexander and he has been wagering a war with his young adversary Coyle across centuries and around the globe, going back to when both of them worked at the great library of Alexandra. Eric tells what he is discovering to his friend Chris, and together they end up going on an adventure in the underworld below the city in the tunnels, pipes and shafts to save the history Eric loves, and to retrieve Alexander's Life-Forever machine. Soon they find they are just pawns in a life and death game that has played out across time. Can a bookworm and a jock save their city?

This was a wonderful book, and I know it will become one of my favorites and be read again and again over the years.

Books by Kenneth Oppel:

Half Brother (2010)
The Devil's Cure (2000)
Dead Water Zone (1992)
The Live-Forever Machine (1990)

Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
This Dark Endeavour (2011)
Such Wicked Intent (2012)

The Silverwing Saga
Silverwing (1997)
Sunwing (1999)
Firewing (2002)
Darkwing (2007)

Airborn Series
Airborn (2004)
Skybreaker (2005)
Starclimber (2008)

Children's Fiction:

The King's Taster (2009)
Peg and the Yeti (2004)
Peg and the Whale (2000)
Emma's Emu (1995)
Galactic Snapshots (1993)
Cosmic Snapshots (1993)
Follow That Star (1992)
Cosimo Cat (1990)
Colin's Fantastic Video Adventure (1985)

Barnes and the Brains
A Bad Case of Ghosts (1993)
A Strange Case of Magic (1994)
A Crazy Case of Robots (1994)
An Incredible Case of Dinosaurs (1994)
A Weird Case of Super-Goo (1997)
A Creepy Case of Vampires (2002)

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