Jekel Loves Hyde, by Beth Fantaskey
Noreen shares this review:
Dystopian worlds are hot, and books about teens living in some sort of dystopia abound. The trick is finding the good ones that blend the normal day-to-day things with the fantastical and make it believable. Beth Fantaskey does this deftly with charm, wit, and a voice that resounds for both teens and adults.
Jill Jekel is your ultimately good teenage girl who is smart, nice, and not so popular. Her father’s murder and her mother’s descent into severe depression leave Jill pretty much on her own to cope with everyday things. On top of this, Jill learns that her college fund has been depleted, presumably by her father before his murder.
Tristen Hyde, a newcomer to Supplee Mill High School, is a bit mysterious, very handsome, and the one person who comforts Jill at her father’s funeral. She is not sure why he came and why he seems interested in her. Yet she is drawn to him for reasons she does not understand. Tristen is haunted by dreams he does not understand.
When Mr. Messerschmidt, the high school science teacher, announces a science project contest attached to college tuition, Jill is interested, hoping to work with Tristen, who unfortunately does not seem interested. When Jill mentions a box of papers in her father’s study that were secret, Tristen changes his mind and they start working together on the project. Added to the mix is a complete breakdown by Jill’s mother who turns to Tristen’s father who is a psychiatrist.
Everyone in this book has an agenda: the likeable Jill who is falling in love with Tristen; Tristen with his nightmarish memories who is falling for Jill, but afraid; and Tristan’s father who wants power through his son; even Mr. Messerschmidt has a surprising role that is only disclosed at the end of the story. It is a painful mix for all, that creates tension for the reader wondering who is the good guy and who is the bad guy.
The climax, while somewhat predictable, has enough twists and turns to keep the reader wanting to know how it will all turn out. As mentioned on the book cover: “They say love is all about great chemistry.” — Jekel Loves Hyde has enough chemistry paired with teenage angst and a touch of the unreal to keep readers turning the pages. This could even cause readers to check out the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
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