Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard

A modern-day retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a chilling twist

Harper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper's shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It's everything she never thought she wanted.

Then she meets Logan's twin brother, Caleb, who was expelled from his last school. True, he's a bad boy, but Harper can't shake the feeling that there's something deeply sinister about him--something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Caleb's shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late.

262 pages, Hardcover
Published September 4th 2012 by Razorbill

(info grabbed from GoodReads)

I wanted so much more than I got out of Dangerous Boy.  I found it kind of shallow and predictable.  BUT I WANTED TO LIKE IT SO MUCH.  Hmph.  I’m going to pout like a child for a few minutes.

*a few minutes*

And we’re back.  I’ve never read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I am betting that Dangerous Boy was only a loose retelling of the original, meaning that it only held onto the main idea of what Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were.  I think most people know the main plot point of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but if you don’t maybe you would enjoy the book more than I did.  I, however, was familiar with the storyline so the plot twist at the end of Dangerous Boy was over before it began.  Knowing this, I was still interested in how the book would tell the story in the modern world, which is why I read it.  Looking at it from that angle, I wasn’t incredibly wowed.

Like the original book, the story did not follow the Dr. Jekyll character directly with the original being told from an investigator/friend’s perspective.  Dangerous Boy was told following Harper, a cautious girl who has recently started dating the mysterious new boy in town.  I liked Harper and her scared-y cat tendencies -- I could relate as I am also a bit terrified of everything.  She wasn't a weak character, just not willing to partake in activities that put her life in danger.  But I felt that with starting the book off with them already dating, you lost a bit of the intrigue and chemistry that happened when characters meet for the first time.  This was one of that main ways the story deviated from the original, so I thought it would have been played up a little more than it was.  I didn’t feel as attached to their relationship as maybe I should have and wanted to.

I did like that the story is taken out of Victorian London and into rural-ish Washington.  Our heroine actually lives on a dairy farm, with most of her friends also living/working on ranches and other farms.  I thought that was very cool and brought in a lot of originality for a retelling.  

In regards to how the author tied the paranormal elements of the original into the modern world and into teenagers, I was really disappointed.  Obviously Dr. Jekyll was a doctor, and you can’t have a teenage doctor (or can you?) but I really didn’t like the twist on the original twist of the ending -- it felt cheapened.  I was expecting more, but I think a lot of retellings of classic novels fall into that trap of not living up to the expectations of readers.   

So, if you are completely unfamiliar with the original The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I recommend this book full heartedly.  It was lighter than I was expecting, considering the subject matter, but it was still a good and enjoyable read.  If you’re familiar with the original and are looking for something that will pick your brain a little more, Dangerous Boy may not be for you.  It may also not be for you if you don’t think you want to have to explain the title to anyone who happens to see you reading it.  I have never gotten more questions about what I was reading before this book.

Final Thought: 9 out of 16 toadstools

This review is also on GoodReads

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