Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

Genre: YA fantasy
Released: May 2010 by Harcourt
Page Count: 282 (hardcover)
Recommended for: anyone looking for a light, entertaining read

They say love is all about great chemistry...

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 the key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.
To improve 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.

My Thoughts:
Jekel Loves Hyde promised to be a fun read.  I snagged it from the library shelves, drawn in by the cover and the sheer awesome-ness of the title.  It sounded like a warped classic kind of book, kind of like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I read this book in a few sittings-- at under 300 pages, it's definitely no War and Peace-- and remain kind of on the fence about it.  

The bad news first: Jill Jekel is one flat protagonist.  I get that her 'good, straight-laced girl' persona made her transformation towards the end of the novel more dramatic and shocking, but Beth Fantaskey took the whole thing a little overboard.  I found Jill to be very predictable for the most part.  My biggest pet peeve for this book was that, even though the story is centered on the results of a chemistry experiment gone bad, very little chemistry actually took place.  There was no science to the potions brewed by Jill and Tristen-- we only know that they mixed up some deadly, mood-altering mixtures because Jill tells us that they did.  The author skims convinently over any actual science or ingredients which might have been part of their experiment.

Now the good news: Tristen (funny way to spell that name) is more intriguing.  He and Jill share the role of narrator, so it's vital to the story that he's interesting and complex enough to balance Jill's flat narration and lack of personality.  Tristen's a smart, piano-playing, silent but strong type, but somehow manages to avoid coming across as a Edward Cullen clone.  His struggle with the Hyde family curse was probably the highlight of the book for me, the thing that really makes the story unique.  The plot is a little jumbled-- if Jill spent one more chapter standing around trying to pluck up the courage to ask Tristen to help her with her science experiment, I may well have given up early into the book-- but overall, the story is good.  I like the fresh and exciting take on Jekyll/Hyde, the actual novel of which I haven't read since I was twelve.  As for the romance between Tristen and Jill, I'm not altogether sure how much chemistry they actually had together.  The scenes in the lab and by Jill's father's grave were well-written, despite afore-mentioned lack of actual science taking place.  There's a lot of messing around and not so much anything substantial.  But, hey, this is a pretty light book in more ways than one. 

I'm not sure if I would read Beth Fantaskey's first novel, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, after reading this follow-up, even though I know a lot of people really love that book. Still, I grant Jekel Loves Hyde a 3/5 based on a great premise and an entertaining story.     

My Rating: 3/5


Katie (The Literary Files) said...

I hope you do end up deciding to read Jessica's Guide! I completely adored it! I still have yet to read this one since not many enjoyed it.
This was such a great and honest review! Thanks Kat! :)

Book Sake said...

Kinda disappointed to keep hearing that this book wasn't that great. I really liked Jessica's Guide.

Kat said...

@Katie-- Thanks! Maybe I'll read Jessica's Guide after all, since so many people do love it and recommend it. I do think a new, funny take on vampires sounds awesome. :)

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