Book Review: Jekyll and Hyde

Not to be confused with the comic book crows Heckle and Jeckle, this is the book by Robert Louis Stevenson. Written in 1886 this book suffers from a couple things. First it’s a very explainy book. Second it’s extremely short. Just slightly longer than a novella today.

That being said, this is the traditional book about a man who changes who he is and becomes a totally different, and in many aspects, unsavory character.

As a reader: I’ve read a lot of book across a number of decades. More decades of book than decades for me. I can see where this book would appeal to the time as it’s a short book with an interesting concept that the more you think about the story the more you can add to it in your own mind. Having seen movies and other characterizations about Jekyll and Hyde I went in with a lot of preconceived notions about the story. It was always my understanding that Jekyll was looking for a means to transform himself for some reason and goofed up and tapped into his inner demons and let them free on accident.

Oh heck no! He knew exactly what he was doing at the onset and enjoyed being Hyde. At least at the start of the book. His biggest mistake was not creating enough potion to transform himself back to Dr. Jekyll and getting ‘stuck’ as Hyde. This was his way to escape his life and live the life of someone younger, stronger, but shorter and uglier. People are repulsed by Hyde and can’t rightly explain why. He’s easily identifiable because of his hideous demeanor. Dr. Jekyll is alive and aware inside of Hyde the entire time. He knows what’s happening and enjoys the freedom to not have to perform the regular duties of high society that his doctor status force him into.

As Hyde he is able to be free to do what he likes with little regard of what others think of him. Even though I had difficulty with the story as it was told, I still enjoyed the concept and the way it played out in the end.

As a writer: This story lacked in many way. It’s almost told as a series of letters as if someone wrote their account of events. Only toward the end, after Hyde is killed, do we get to hear of Jekyll’s position and what actually happened. I didn’t like how the main character wasn’t the person doing the telling of the story. Instead we get a second hand account and reactions of other people as to what’s happening with with Dr. Jekyll and a letter telling us what happened rather than insight as to what Dr Jekyll is going through. This, for me, made it a difficult story to read because I kept not caring about what was happening. I never felt sympathetic for anyone in the story.

Yes, things happened and they took place over a long period of time, but I never got a sense for just how long certain events took to play out. I’m guessing that everything happened over the course of a year, but I’m not sure.

Recommendation: This is a classic and a very short read. Read it. It is a classic novel. Don’t expect it to live up to the movie version of the characters. What you will find is a great idea for a story that’s explained to you and executed less than the hype it’s gotten for over a century.

Posted on July 7, 2012, in Book Review. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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