Monday, December 19, 2011

It wasn't like a man; it was like some damned Juggernaut

I had big plans for the weekend to get some reviews written. Big plans I say. Then I got distracted by things like Christmas shopping and college basketball games (which I don't especially care about but nontheless attend because I'm a good girlfriend and also we went to a bar afterwards so win) and eating way too much food and seeing the Jesse Eisenberg play Asuncion because I have a real case of geek love. What I'm saying is, no reviews were written.

Back on December 3rd I took part in a last minute readathon and I've decided to be all ambitious and write up separate reviews for each of the books I read that day. There's only 3 of them so this shouldn't take me too long but that would assume less procrastination on my part. So I'm just now getting to the first review, that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I've had this book forever and I've never read it. I assume it was on a sales table (that's how I make my impulse buys) and I figured this was something I would like and then I never read it. Whoops. It's always in interesting experience, to read a book with a story you know so well. And this isn't like Frankenstein, where the movie has created a Frankenstein character so different from the literary original. Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde is pretty much the story you're already familiar with: a doctor (Jekyll) has found a way to separate out all of his evil and dark impulses into a different creation (Mr. Hyde). Here's the problem with a story that's so well know. That whole Jekyll and Hyde are actually the same person thing is the twist. Kinda messes with the story build up when you already know the twist. Especially if you don't know going into the story that that's the twist.

So knowing that little twist does take something away from the original story, but there's plenty to keep it interesting. Once you get into the swing of the language, it's a creepy story. In what I assume is a Victorian thing (but really I have no idea), the story is told from an outsider's point of view. Here it's Dr. Jekyll's friend and lawyer Gabriel Utterson who hears about Hyde causing some mayhem and then paying for the expenses with a check from Jekyll. Curious, he starts investigating the connection between the two men, and you the reader could investigate this with him except for the whole knowing they're the same guy thing. Given I already knew this, I would have preferred the story to be from Jekyll's/Hyde's POV. Hard to fault Stevenson for this of course but still. It just means the story doesn't stand up quite as well as Dracula or Frankenstein.

There are "other stories" included in my book but I didn't read them because I wanted to move on during the readathon. Maybe some day. Given my past track record with the book, I'd say it'll be another 10 or so years. Or maybe next time I do a readathon.

Title quote from page 8

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories. Barnes & Noble Books, 2005. Originally published 1886.