Jekel Loves Hyde
by Beth Fantaskey
282 Pages [Hardcover]
Published by Harcourt
Released on May 3, 2010
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.
After reading Jessica's Guide To Dating On The Dark Side, I was already very fond of Beth Fantaskey. Her witty dialogue, plot twists, and character development left me speechless -- it was just that good! So, I knew that I would definitely like Jekel Loves Hyde, although I was skeptical of how much I would like it considering the storyline. Plus, I tend to lean more toward vampires and paranormal creatures when it comes to YA. I try not to, but I'm unsuccessful most of the time. As a matter of fact, besides getting this book the day it came out like I planned to, I put it off until I could finish a few other YA books that actually did involve vampires, werewolves, etc. What can I say? I have a weakness.
After reading it, what was my first thought? I made a mistake by putting it off. If I want to be completely honest with myself, some times I have a problem with certain things being retold because I hold them to a certain classic standard. I always tell my parents they should crawl out from under their rock and live in the modern age. Maybe I should take my own advice? As a spin-off of a classic, it was marvelous. So marvelous in fact that it makes me want to re-read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If it makes a 26 year old girl do that, then I am absolutely certain that it may do the same with younger children who may have never read it. I think we should celebrate that ... books inspiring you to read others. I'm not saying this is a re-telling because it most certainly IS NOT. But Fantaskey puts enough information of the original into her story to make you get a taste of something delicious that leaves you wanting more. That is where the celebration should be - an author who writes so well that she inadvertently makes you want to read more. It's INCREDIBLE!
Having said that, I do have a few minor set-backs. I think that Jill and Tristen's relationship is ... lacking. Their turbulent on-again/off-again relationship gave me whiplash and I could barely keep up with it. It definitely wasn't a progression - it started out strong and fumbled its way through the entire novel. Along the same lines, I find it hard to believe that Jill would believe Becca -- who she admits just uses her most of the time -- over Tristen so easily, especially when she is supposed to be in love with him. Also, I found the absence of scenes where Jill takes the formula a little disappointing. You get a few glimpses, but not enough to actually understand why she's so obsessed over keeping some of the formula herself.
Despite this, I found myself intrigued until the very end of the book. Beth Fantaskey has this wonderful way of leading you in one direction to make you believe something, then just completely surprise you in the following pages to prove the exact opposite to be true. Her character development is wonderful. I think the best would obviously be Tristen, though it was endearing to follow Jill's mom in her path to recovery. Other minor characters were developed as well, though like real life, some characters just had the inability to grow. The book was a little slow at the beginning, but picked up the pace once they really started doing research - however, even the slow pace helped a lot with back story and your understanding of characters.
My decision? !! It wasn't Jessica's Guide... but it was a well thought out read that was a wonderful take on an old story. All of the important aspects of the novel are definitely strong, including the beautiful cover!