Despite my better judgment, I really did expect a lot out of this book. It’s been sitting on my shelf for awhile, and I’ve been meaning to read it for twice as long as that—and it just didn’t end up delivering. The title, Jekel Loves Hyde, makes you think this will be a compelling love story with a scientific and thrilling twist, but it’s…not. More often than not, I found myself somewhat frustrated and infuriated by how boring the main character, Jill, is, and her constant back-and-forth regarding her feelings for Tristen, her resident partner-in-crime (literally, in most cases). And while there were times when I was honestly interested in their relationship and where the story was going, it ultimately fell completely apart near the end when we arrived at the hastiest resolution I’ve encountered since Nicholas Sparks’ The Lucky One.
Trigger warning, though, for anyone who wants to know but doesn’t want to read any blatant spoilers: there are three separate, distinct, and detailed suicide attempts in this book. All three times, though nobody “succeeded”, the characters involved thought they were really killing themselves, even though it didn’t work out that way.
What I Liked: Spoilers!
- The writing itself was by no means bad, and I think I would probably enjoy another book by Fantaskey (this is my first from her). It moved along at a fairly decent pace, and managed to keep the reader interested (most of the time). The parts of the story that focused on the experiment and what was going on with that were fun to read, and even though they sometimes infuriated me, Tristen and Jill were fun to get to know as a couple. The basis for a good story was here, and I wish that I had liked other, individual characteristics of it better.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Jill and Tristen were probably two of the most uninteresting characters on the face of the earth. Jill is your classic “goody two shoes” sort of girl, who nobody ever notices, and nobody every cares about. Tristen is your classic brooding, tortured soul. Of course, Jill is drawn to Tristen’s mystery, and Tristen is drawn to Jill’s goodness (which he emphasizes over and over again when he tells her how good and pure and virtuous she is, which got a little creepy really quickly). When Jill drinks some of the potion on accident, she feels completely out of character and utterly ridiculous. Where the “beast” makes Tristen want to kill people, Jill’s “beast” makes her want to have sex—and a lot of it, apparently. On the plus side, Jill was the first heroine I think I’ve ever encountered who actually ran away from the mysterious, brooding guy after he beat someone else up, but then again, Jill’s constant back and forth about whether or not she likes (or loves) Tristen was just plain infuriating. And Tristen’s self-sacrificing nature was beyond ridiculous. I couldn’t stand the two of them in any concentrated doses, and it took me quite awhile to actually work up the nerve to finish this book.
- Come on now, three suicide attempts, and none of them even the slightest bit justified. Suicide isn’t a fun little plot point. It’s not there to create some drama and flair. First, Tristen tries to kill himself by drinking a potentially lethal formula, because he doesn’t want to hurt anyone. (Okay, that one is somewhat understandable, but Jill’s reaction was pretty much, “Aw, Tristen, but I think I might love you, please don’t die.”) Tristen does, of course, come back to life, however, with the beast gone. Jill, on the other hand, made me so angry that I thought I might throw my book against a wall. She comes home, feeling kind of embarrassed because she tried to throw herself on Tristen, and just wants a hug from her mom. However, her mom is getting ready to go out on the town with some friends, the first time she’s been remotely happy in months after recovering from a catatonic state. So what does reasonable, logical Jill think to herself? “Oh no, my mom will never be there to comfort me ever again, and I’m so embarrassing and Tristen probably doesn’t want to be around me anymore, woe is me! Let me drink this potentially lethal potion, too, because I don’t even care if it kills me!” I mean, what kind of rational train of thought is that?! So, she drinks. Of course, it doesn’t kill her. She runs around and does some weird crap, but that’s about it. (Which reminds me, there’s no explanation offered as to why the potion has the power to kill or fully restore the beast in Tristen, but one drink equals one night on the town for Jill, and then she has to drink again in order to make it come back.) You’d think that’d be the end of her stupidity, but of course not! Jill’s friend, Becca, swings by just to let Jill know that she and Tristen slept together over the summer (before Jill even actually knew Tristen). And Jill goes into another suicidal fit, not caring whether she lives or dies, and drinks even more formula than last time, because apparently life cannot possibly get any worse than knowing your not-really-boyfriend slept with someone else before he knew you. I don’t take suicides in books lightly. Especially when they’re used as lame plot devices to stir up some drama. Sorry; I’m not buying it.
- The last thing that bothered me was the ending. We get to the climax, where everything sort of explodes all at once—Tristen’s crazy dad kidnaps Jill’s mom and threatens to kill her. Mr. Messerschmidt, the chemistry teacher, ends up being crazy and apparently killed Jill’s dad. The formula very suddenly doesn’t work anymore, for anybody, and, what’s going to happen?! How will they resolve it?!? …With an epilogue. That takes place years later. When Tristen and Jill are engaged. And apparently Messerschmidt was never found? And I guess it’s a happily ever after, even though that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever? I mean, I wish writers would pay more attention to their resolutions. If you need to write twenty more pages to make it work, please do so. Nobody wants to read a shoddy resolution because you backed yourself into a nonsensical corner. (Also, I’d like to point out that absolutely no time was spent on the chemistry presentation that the entire book supposedly revolved around. Three pages and it’s over. Whoop de doo.
Overall: I wasn’t a huge fan of this book, and honestly, I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. It wasn’t horrendous, and it could have been much, much worse, but…there wasn’t much that I really liked. It just didn’t completely suck. The characters were mostly unlikable and annoying, and the climax and resolution came and went so quickly that you could blink and miss everything. This one just isn’t worth the time, if you ask me. There wasn’t much redeeming about it, though I haven’t given up on Fantaskey.