Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll & Mademoiselle Odile - James Reese

The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll & Mademoiselle Odile
by James Reese
Young Adult
Read From: May 23, 2012 - May 30, 2012

 I was wary of this book when I picked it up - people always take a lot of liberties with R. L. Stevenson’s famous short story. But considering that this is supposed to be a “prequel” to The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll & Mister Hyde made what liberties the Author took much more bearable. At least he got Hyde moderately correct. So many movies and retellings depict Mr. Hyde as a giant ape-like person, when in fact he wasn’t at all. Hyde was a short and stocky young man. The Author kind of depicts Hyde like that, but not quite as badly as others, so I excused it.

Odile is a great heroine: strong and resourceful. While she makes many mistakes, she tries her best to set them right. I’m still not entirely certain how I feel about the Author making Doctor Jekyll into such a weasely and deceitful person. He seems to completely ignore the whole point behind Jekyll’s experiments - to separate the good in man from the evil - and claims that Jekyll is just trying to impress the Royal Society. But, again, this being a prequel, one can theorize that Jekyll did not begin to have such an intense interest in the nature of man until later.

The backdrop for the story is a good one, and lends to the excitement and gritty feel of the story. The writing style, too, is fairly good. At times the sentence structure is a bit strange, but it lends to the feeling that Odile is verbally telling her story to someone, rather than writing it out, and while I don’t normally like that particular style, it worked for this story. The Author also uses many French words in the dialogue, but thankfully he offers in-text translations, and it adds to Odile’s authenticity rather than bogging the narration down.

The end of the story is more than a little sudden, as are a couple of the twists. They are good twists, but they are delivered in a way that leaves the Reader blinking in confused surprise. I can’t help but wonder if there is going to be a sequel, since it more or less ends on that sort of note.

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