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Review: Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

Review: Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey
Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

Genres: Young Adult
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: May 3rd 2010
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
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Synopsis:

Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents’ rules – especially the one about never opening the mysterious, old box in her father’s office. But when her dad is murdered, and her college savings disappear, she's tempted to peek inside, as the contents might be key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.

To better her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize, but to save Tristen’s sanity. Maybe his life. But Jill’s accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and compels her to risk everything – even Tristen’s love – just for the thrill of being… bad.

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Review
Tristan Hyde and Jill Jekel are distant descendants of the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They both have an interest in chemistry like their ancestors, and Tristan has another dangerous similarity to Mr. Hyde. When he gets excited, he just might turn into a murderous monster.

Jill and Tristan start working together in an attempt to win a college scholarship for her and kill the monster who lurks within Tristan.

 

I like Tristan even though he wasn’t the most complex character. I think most of us have read about the brooding, dark, handsome hero who would be perfect if it wasn’t for some darn supernatural curse that turned him into a killing machine. However, his character is original in that his monster isn’t a werewolf or another easily recognized supernatural creature. His monster is more cerebral than physical. In the beginning of the book, you are aware of the deep desire that the monster has for murder and mayhem, but you don’t get to experience him doing anything until later on. I found myself losing track of when it was Tristan’s own darkness that was driving his actions and when the monster had taken over.

 

The overall classic feel of this book was something I both liked and disliked. I have read a few classic mystery and science fiction novels, and this book reminding me of them quite a bit, but for every moment that the language was beautifully descriptive and poetic, it also felt stale. As much as I liked him, Tristan just didn’t read like a 17-year-old kid. He was always intimidating some adult and taking charge of the situation. That works for the leading man in a book, but Tristan wasn’t a man! He was just a kid with a dark secret.

Jill wasn’t a badly written character, but she annoyed me. She could be really childish and selfish, and that didn’t match with her “good girl” persona. I think that she was meant to be complex, but I just wanted to tell her to get a grip and grow up.

After a particularly frightening encounter with Tristan’s alter ego, where he almost hurts her, she forgives him right away and starts kissing him. I don’t particularly care for it when the heroine is hurt by the hero and forgives him right away because “he wasn’t himself”. My complaint isn’t actually about the fact that Jill forgave Tristan so quickly though; I got over that. What I never really got over, was what Jill did get angry about. She cared more about who he may or may not have slept with long before he knew who she was than she did about the fact that he might have killed someone.

 

I also disliked the inconsistencies in the story. I know I am being nitpicky, but they were there, and they kept bugging me.

Tristan makes a point of telling Jill that they aren’t distant relatives because Dr, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were two different people. Jill is a descendant of the good Dr. Jekyll and Tristan has the misfortune of being descended from the monster, Hyde. However, Tristan and his monster share one body. Sure his appearance changes slightly when the monster is in control, but not enough for them to be two different people. Tristian is even aware of some of the things his body is doing when the monster is gaining control. Plus I never completely understood how the transformation worked.

 

The writing in this book was good, and I completely understand that the story is meant to shine a light on what being good and bad truly mean. Tristan and Jill are two ordinary people who have very deep desires that lead them to do some stupid things sometimes, but they just want to be happy and loved. They are lonely when the book begins, and it is nice that they were able to find each other.

 I can’t say that this is a new favorite of mine, but it wasn’t a waste of my time to read it. I got enough enjoyment out of reading this to want to see what else the author is capable of.


Because of language violence and mild sexual content, I would recommend this book for ages 14 and up.

Three Roses

One StarOne StarOne Star

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Author Biography

About Beth Fantaskey

1. My favorite hobby is traveling the world - but my biggest fear is flying.
2. My second-biggest fear is public speaking… but I’m a college professor (who sometimes teaches public speaking!)
3. I have two 8-year-old kids - who AREN’T twins.
4. My weirdest work experience was helping to “tan” deer hides using cow brains. (I was actually writing a magazine story about it.)
5. I’ve only been fired once, from a job as a bookstore clerk.
6. My best educational experience was doing research in India on the Dalit (“untouchable”) struggle for human rights. (See maarpu.org)
7. My worst experience, ever, was getting food poisoning while riding my bike from the Missouri River to the Mississippi. (My friend told me the chicken tasted strange…)
8. Whenever I visit a new country, I try as many ketchups as I can. (Best: Poland, Worst: China)
9. I am an uncommonly bad volleyball player…ask the team that ALMOST won a championship.
10. I also suffer from mild “ichthyphobia,” or “fear or fish.” I don’t bother trying to overcome that one!

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