Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey YA Novel Review

 

Title:  Jekel Loves Hyde

Author: Beth Fantaskey

Publisher: Harcourt

ISBN: 9780152063900

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

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.

Told by both Jill and Tristen through short, tension filled chapters, Jekel Loves Hyde gives an original spin on the classic tale of a man who turns himself into a monster.  In this case, Tristen, a descendant of Hyde, wants to rid himself of the monster lurking within him.  Jill is a descendant of Jekyll, and fate seems to have thrown the two of them together. 

Jill is a fragile, shy girl who absolutely dislikes confrontations of any kind.  After her father is murdered in a gruesome act of violence, she is left to care for her mother, who suffers from a nervous breakdown.  That’s a lot for a high school senior to deal with!  Jill is keeping it together, working hard on her studies and maintaining the dwindling finances at home when she suffers from another blow – she learns that her father had emptied her college saving account before his murder, and she has no money left to chase her dreams.  Her mom is barely making ends meet, and college is starting to look like another shattered dream in her already devastated life.

Enter Tristen Hyde.  He’s cool, popular, and has a very dark and dangerous side.  A monster lurks in Tristen, and it’s just bidding its time until it takes him over completely.  With his damned soul, Tristen is desperate to rid himself of the beast within, and he will do anything to stop it from taking over.  Even kill himself.  When a science contest throws Jill and Tristen together, they both have their own motivation for entering it.  Jill wants the prize money, and Tristen want to discover a cure to his curse.

This book worked for me because the characters are both so sympathetic.  Jill is like a leaf caught in white-water rapids – she just can’t assert herself or bring herself to break the rules, especially after her father’s murder and subsequent disgrace.  Her mother is skating on thin emotional ice, and Jill doesn’t want to be responsible for pushing her over the brink.  Tristen is desperate and afraid, terrified of the hidden monster that vies with him for control.  It is a constant struggle for him to not give in to the beast, and the conflict is gripping.  Both of their voices are distinct as their paths converge and they begin to work together to decipher the key to ridding Tristen of his inner demon.

Though the story is a little slow to ramp up, it soon gathers momentum that makes it very hard to put down.  I loved all of the twists and turns as the plot plowed steadily forward, gathering both Tristen and Jill in a web of danger and romance.  

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher