Title: Jekel Loves Hyde
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Genre: Mystery/Romance/Science Fiction
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
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.
I loved Fantaskey’s first book, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side – it was a great debut, and hard to follow up. When I heard that she had a new book out, I was slightly unsure of what I thought of it. The premise sounded interesting but I wasn’t sure if it had the same potential as the first book. Of course, before I read her first book, I thought it sounded like a boring, vampire book with no originality, and I was certainly wrong about that. So I decided to give it a shot, and when I saw this book at the library I decided to read it.
I’ve read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, back in freshman English class, and I remember it being a bit more complicated than the story everyone knows (Dr. Jekyll drinks a potion, turns into Mr. Hyde, and chaos ensues). It hadn’t been one of my favorites, but it certainly wasn’t the worst book I had read. A modern retelling of the story seemed like it could have the potential to be an amazing twist on the story, or a complete failure. There’s a thin line you have to walk between being original while still staying true to the story and completely ripping off of the original. I think Fantaskey did a very good job of putting her own twist on the story, taking the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and turning them into Jill Jekel and Tristen Hyde. She took the story, putting it into a modern setting where the two partner together to work on recreating the original experiment, trying to win scholarship money. But it’s not just about the experiment – Jill’s father was brutally murdered before the book began, and she’s trying to deal with that along with all the information she now knows about her father. Tristen, meanwhile, is battling a beast of his own, and his relationship with his own father is shaky at best. There are quite a few aspects to this story, from the mystery of what happened to Jill’s father and what happened to Tristen in London, the romance that could be blooming between the two main characters, and the science fiction parts from their chemistry experiment. I think the story comes together fairly well, and I did like this book, although I don’t think it quite lives up to the amaziness of Fantaskey’s first book.
I’ve seen that some people disliked how dark the story was, compared to Fantaskey’s first book. This book doesn’t have the same funny, bubbliness that tended to be used in the first book, that’s true, but I think the darker mood fits with the story. After all, one of the main characters’ father was murdered and the other one is worried about his sanity. It’s not exactly going to be all sunshine and daisies. I think the atmosphere works for the story. If you don’t want a dark book, then this isn’t for you, but it should be obvious from the synopsis that this book isn’t going to be carefree. Not exactly something you’d want to read late at night, all alone.
So, overall, I did like this book. I think Fantaskey is a very interesting author who manages not to rely on a stretched-out series, instead focusing on writing stand-alones, which works for her. Her stories so far have been very self-contained and I’d prefer that they remain stand-alones. Though I was slightly disappointed with this book, I eagerly await whatever she comes up with next, if only to guess what twists she’ll throw our way.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars