SPOILER ALERT!

The Immortal Von B

The Immortal Von B. - M. Scott Carter

Plot Summary: 

 

Josie Brunswick is a social outcast. She's an American who's moved to Vienna as a result of her dad's job - he's a medical researcher. Her mother passed away shortly after the move, so not only is Josie trying to navigate a foreign country, she's reeling from the grief caused by her mother's death. She has only one friend, the quirky Fa8 (pronounced "fate"), and has no interest in making more - at least, not with the snobby offspring of minor royalty that attend her school. In the midst of all this, Josie makes a mistake in her father's laboratory and accidentally brings to life a replication of Ludwig von Beethoven. This causes a whole lot of trouble as a scandal about her father's company unfurls, which ends up endangering Josie's life, not to mention those of her Fa8, Beethoven, and her father. . 

 

Unfortunately, I was unable to find an interview with M. Scott Carter. 

 

Review: 

 

This is another book that has a really cool concept that was poorly executed. It also was a fast read that held my attention the whole way through - I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. This was definitely a page turner. But there were parts of it that I just kept questioning. For example, Carter hints that Josie has a dark past psychologically, but he never develops it further. True, it's not integral to the story, but it's mentioned frequently enough that it merits further development, or it should have just been extracted completely, because as it was, it just served to distract from the story. Also, some of the friendships/relationships that Josie makes feel very forced, and some of them are just completely neglected (Theresa, Chaz).

 

Most importantly, Beethoven was very one-dimensional, and I feel like Carter just completely ignored any contemporary accounts of him when creating the character. His personality bears no resemblance to that of the Beethoven that we're familiar with. Carter created a character that he wanted to see in the book and named him Beethoven to give the book a plot, in my opinion - and the worst part is that the character is boring. Also, while at first Carter makes a huge deal out of the fact that Beethoven only speaks German, not English, and Josie has to make sure to speak in German to him, after we first meet Beethoven, there's no mention of the language barrier at all, even though it's stated that Josie's German is flawed at best.

The most bothersome aspect for me was the love triangle between Josie, Fa8, and Beethoven. Frankly, I wish Josie had ended up with Fa8 - he was so much more interesting! The only connection Josie really had with Beethoven was that they love music (an interest Fa8 also shares) and that he's a good kisser, apparently. I also find it very hard to believe that Fa8 and Beethoven would be such good friends even after Josie rejects Fa8 for Beethoven. 

 

Additionally, the writing was juvenile and immature, filled with cliches. The plot progression was mechanical - it was clear that the author wanted to get from point A to point B, but couldn't think of a way to do it plausibly, so he just made it happen as quickly and sloppily as possible. Many of the characters' decisions did not make ANY sense at all. For example, when Josie lets Chaz into the lab, she KNOWS it's a bad idea and she doesn't even WANT to let him in - but she does anyway. Why? The author hints around that she wants to protect her dad but he also implies that she wants to get back at him - first of all, which one is it? Second of all, if she wants to protect him, how exactly does letting a guy who clearly wants to spy on him and expose his faults in to his top-secret lab do that? If she wants to get back at her dad, then why would she do it in a way that her dad would so easily discover her actions? The entire scenario makes no sense. Nor does her relationship with her dad - one minute, they hate each other, the next, they love each other. I understand that this is typical of teens and their parents, but the transition from hating each other to adoring each other was so fast and undeveloped that it gave me mental whiplash. 

 

In all, this book was okay, and I think that most teens would probably like it. They'd probably read it and not have too much of a problem believing it, but I think that because I'm reading it as a college student who's analyzing it for a class, its flaws jump out at me, and I'm having a hard time getting past them. I think this is an amazing concept for a book, but the jump from the initial idea to the actual implementation of it didn't really reach its full potential, in my opinion. 

 

Recommended to: 

 

I honestly don't know who I'd recommend this book to. I would say sci-fi or classical music fans, but there were a few in my YA literature class and they were disgusted by how unbelievable this book was. However, I think that a teen reading this would probably not be as critical as they were, so I suppose I'd recommend it to sci-fi fans - but, to be honest, if I were to recommend any science fiction novel to anyone, it would probably be The 5th Wave, not this.