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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey


Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 Pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (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.


Two teens as the descendants of the original characters from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel? Monsters morphing from one sip of an odd concoction of chemicals? Sign me up! The premise of Jekel Loves Hyde intrigued me right from the start. The fact that these two individuals would cross paths so many years later, and under such crucial circumstances, had me anxious to dive into the book. The prologue available on Beth Fantaskey's website was dark and fascinating as well.

Jill went through the most growth in the book, but it was Tristan‘s character that I sympathized with and cared for most. There were so many layers to his personality. Not only did he have to struggle with his family’s gruesome legacy, but he had to contend with a complicated and dangerous relationship with his own father. The way he tried to balance conflicting family loyalties with his romantic feeling for Jill intrigued me. Jill, however, was a little harder for me to connect with. I wondered whether I would’ve appreciated her more had the novel been written entirely from Tristan’s perspective. Keeping Jill a little more under wraps might have lured me in, especially when her own dark impulses came bubbling to the surface.

Beth Fantaskey garnered a large fan base with her debut novel Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. Many authors would’ve followed up with a sophomoric release written in the same tone. It would’ve been a safe bet; one more likely to appeal to the widest spectrum of readers. But Fantaskey took a chance and tried something different. It was a gutsy thing to do and I admire that.

While I enjoyed Jekel Loves Hyde, it wasn’t a novel I would necessarily read again like I would with Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. I fell hook, line and sinker for that book. I loved the mix of dynamic characters, witty banter and steamy romance- all neatly tied up with an entertaining vampiric twist. Jekel Loves Hyde is a novel that will not appeal to all readers. Yet it’s a book that can still be enjoyed for its unique premise and intriguing plot line. I loved the idea of a handsome foreigner with a “dark side” entering Jill's life and changing her future. The atmosphere of barely restrained violence was well written and the deeper issues of dual personalities and familial obligations worth exploring. Would Tristan give in to the Hyde curse and allow himself to be consumed by murderous rage? I had to know- so much was at stake and so many lives in danger.

I look forward to seeing what Beth Fantaskey comes up with next!

Purchase Jekel Loves Hyde at Amazon.com
Read the prologue to Jekel Loves Hyde.

BETH FANTASKEY lives in rural Pennslyvania with her husband and two daughters. She is the author of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.
Visit Beth Fantaskey's Official Website.


Tales of Whimsy said...

Awesome review! Thank you! I really want this one.

Jess (The Cozy Reader) said...

I've gotten up to page 95 but put it a side to read other books. :( I'm not as engrossed with this as I was with JGTDotDS. I'll finish it sometime though. :)

Emma said...

Simply AWESOME review. I have wanted to read this one for a lot period of time.

Bookgeek said...

Exactly. I loved Jessica's Guide and couldn't wait for this but found it just OK.