Sunday, February 28, 2010

Book Review: Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

Title: Jekel Loves Hyde

Author: Beth Fantaskey

Pages: 288

Received from: author


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.

When I first heard of Jekel Loves Hyde, it's fair to say my expectations were...a tad high. Okay, really high. The plot was unique, there was reference to one of my favorite stories of all time, and it no doubt would offer plenty of folly for a recovered Twiligh addict (those were a rough two weeks) while still offering a lot of food for thought. And, for the most part, it lived up to these expectations...except, in another way, it didn't. Not really.

Lemme expain: we begin our story in the first person narrative of Jill Jekel. Under a melancholy sky, she watches both her parents sink--one into the ground, one into herself. Jill is alone, unable to go to her unstable and grieving mother for comfort, nor her best friend (who couldn't be bothered to show up). All she has is Darcy Gray, life-long enemy who offers false condolences and obvious arrogance. She hasn't even had the chance to really cry...until British inport Tristan Hyde shows up, that is.

Despite her hardly knowing the Mysterious Loner, she finds herself at ease as he offers her a comforting hug and is eventually sobbing in his arms. In a none-too-subtle forshadowing, the chapter ends as:

As it turned out, my father wasn't quite the man we'd all thought he was.


Nothing and no one, as I would come to learn, would turn out to be quite what they'd seemed back on that day.

Not even me.

And Tristen...he would prove the trickiest, the most complicated, the most compelling of all the mysterious that were about to unravel.

Alright, okay. Nothing wrong with a little mellow-drama, especially with the tone and subject matter. Except that Fantaskey might have either gotten carried away or wrote the next several chapters long-seperated dates apart from each other, because she reinstates something very similar at the end of the next, like, eight sections.

Anyway. On the first day of school senior year, as Jill's chemistry class is being assigned partners and lab stations, Tristen shows up and...well, read the summary. Things go awry, shananagins ensue, etc. I'll spare you my clipped synopsis.

On to the goods: the reason I found Jekel Loves Hyde disapointing, I think, was the same reason I loved it. The characters, the prose, the plot. I loved them and hated them. It was a very...odd feeling.

Tristen came across so very Edward Cullenish I had to grin and bear it through much of his chapters. As the novel got farther along, he began to talk more and more like his ninteenth century ancester. Formal. You know, this could just be a Brit thing, but I was just shaking my head a lot of the time with that boy. I mean, at least Pussy McCullen was really, really old. He had an excuse. Sheesh.

Jill, much like the plot, I loved and hated. I loved her for her innocence and bravery, as corny as that sounds. I loved her for painting, for being loyal to people who I would smack upside the head and then light their hair on fire. She takes care of her mom as she approaches a mental breakdown, she gets ridiculously good grades, and she's just a generally sweet girl. But for that exact same goddamn reason, I hated her. For chrissakes, grow a pair, girl! You think Dr. Jekyll woulda stood for this shit? No. He wouldn't. He would have made some kind of toxic solutuion and neutrialized their ass. God.Damn.


Plot wise, again, very unique. Fantaskey has a way with words, if mellow-dramatic and a tad repetitive. She did a lovely job in describing Jill and Tristan's individual turmoil without stepping too far into whiney category and I thought it was rather realistic (until, you know, anyone actually spoke. Then it reverted back to 1903. I digress).

I thought the whole thing with Jill being "bad" cos of the potion was a little out of left field, but entertaining nonetheless. It was a nice exploration of her character, if your looking for those things.

Generally, anyone looking for Tortured Mysterious Dude Fiction, or a nice, relatable female protagonist, or your just a Chemistry buff looking for some fun, quick fodder, then, by all means, pick up Jekel Loves Hyde. On the other hand, if your looking for Kafka, I'd stay away. A lovely, interesting follow up to Fantaskey's debut, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.

Rating: 7 out of 10


Unknown said...
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Alyssa Kirk said...

Call me shallow but I can always go for some fun, quick fodder! Thanks for the review, you always make me smile!

Brahmin in Boston said...

Oh wow... Et tu? I too am a recovered Twilight addict. Hahah

I was laughing out loud when I read the words Pussy McCullen! You are one of the most hilarious reviewers I have read!

Kudos to you when you said that you have seen The Raincoat! :-)

Heather G. said...

Hmmm, I really didn't like her other book...actually I couldn't even finish it since I hated it so much...I don't think I'll give this one a chance...but a great review!

YA Book Queen said...

"You think Dr. Jekyll woulda stood for this shit?" - Lol, I love your reviews!

Hmm, I like the sound of it (well, parts of it), but I'll just have to see when it comes out. Awesome honest review! :)

vvb32 reads said...

i loved the Jessica book and i love the cover for Jekel. so i have high hopes too. but your review gives me pause. i may have to read a couple chapters first.

Terra said...

Fantastic review. I keep on swinging back and forth on whether or not I want to read this book. I get the feeling that I might be disappointed myself.

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