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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

'Jekel loves Hyde' by Beth FANTASKEY

Received from the publisher

From the BLURB:

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.

I am officially a Beth Fantaskey fan-girl - she is now an automatic-buy for me!
I loved her novel ‘Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side’ and absolutely devoured ‘Jekel loves Hyde’.

Fantaskey writes smart YA novels, and never talks down to her readers. ‘Jekel loves Hyde’ has its plot roots in the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’. The story (both this modern retelling and its classic inspiration) provokes analysis of big ideas like humanity’s conflict between good and evil, and Man’s duel nature.
Basing these concepts around Jekyll & Hyde is a really inspired idea – it makes ‘Jekel loves Hyde’ a standout supernatural romance when the norm is vampires and werewolves. Fantaskey could have gone the (now) humdrum route of using Werewolves for the metaphor of ‘Beast VS. Man’; but she instead decides to treat her YA readership to a taste of classic gothic literature for the stories’ backbone. Fabulous!

I think High School is a wonderful setting to discuss big-picture ideas of duel nature. Where better do we see the full-spectrum of humanity’s struggle with Good and Evil than in the war of adolescence, on the High School battlefield?

‘Jekel loves Hyde’ has two narrators – shy brainiac, Jill Jekel, and popular track-star Tristen Hyde.
Through these two Fantaskey is able to transport the Jekyll and Hyde metaphor of conflicting personalities to the wider-spectrum of High School cliques.
Jill’s been best friend’s with Becca since kindergarten, but while Becca’s social status soars, Jill is left to wonder if Becca clings to their friendship out of genuine affection or convenience? Then there’s Darcy Gray – Jill’s rival for valedictorian who more successfully straddles the geeky/popular line by also dating quarterback, Todd Flick.
I loved Jill and her struggles with popularity. I always admire an underdog character, and Fantaskey excels at writing them. Jill is shy and awkward, but she’s also got real backbone and courage – in the wake of her father’s murder she runs the household and becomes her mother’s full-time carer. There’s a lot to admire and relate to in Jill – and I think she makes for a great YA heroine.

Likewise I adored Tristen Hyde. As I found in ‘Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side’, Fantaskey likes her male leads to be brooding and mysterious with a heavy dose of charming on the side. Throw in a Birtish accent and Tristen Hyde is indeed swoon-worthy. But I especially loved Tristen because he isn’t perfect, no matter his chiselled good looks and spine-tingling accent.
The duel nature metaphor delves deeper by way of Tristen’s failing mental health, as he experiences ‘rage blackouts’ and a losing control over his inhibitions;

“Tristen…” I twisted against his grip. “Please. This is crazy.”
He squeezed my wrist more tightly, but it was a strangely calming touch, as if he was trying to focus me and force me to listen carefully, when he announced, very clear and gravely, “If you don’t help me, Jill, and if I can’t cure myself, I will kill myself before the beast acts upon its nastiest impulses.”

Fantaskey does well to balance Tristen’s dark and disturbing struggle with the more common examination of Teen life through Jill’s struggles.

Just as in ‘Jessica’s’, ‘Jekel loves Hyde’ has a captivating romance at its centre. I especially loved Tristen and Jill’s saga because they’re combating so much more than just raging hormones – mainly Tristen’s ‘monster’. It makes for melodramatic, addictive reading - very ‘gothic’ indeed.

Another thing I admire about Fantaskey is that she writes quite mature YA books. Her characters swear, talk about sex and reveal some nasty personality flaws. I think it’s a misconception that YA books have to adhere to a strict PG-13 rating. Of course there is a line that defines the Young Adult/Adult crossover – but that doesn’t mean YA authors have to treat their audience with kid gloves. Fantaskey seems very savvy when it comes to her readership and she writes very believable characters, and gives them very plausible struggles (amongst more outlandish ones).

I loved ‘Jekel loves Hyde’. Beth Fantaskey has wonderfully combined the metaphors of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale with teen melodrama to make an insightful and compelling read. Fantaskey is now an automatic-buy for me, and definitely a YA author to keep your eye on.



  1. I already had this one on my tbr list, but I'm beginning to think I should bump it way up on that list.

  2. this looks awesome! added to my tbr =)

    great review luv =0)


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