Sunday, January 5, 2014

Useless Spoiler Alert

Currently Reading: Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

When I first received The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, I was worried that I had run into another accident like the one I had with The Count of Monte Cristo when I bought the wrong edition of the novel. I had seen the theatrical adaptation of this story in high school and assumed the book would be a typical length of about 200 or so pages. After all, it had to have enough substance to entertain an audience for over 2 hours. Instead, the book I unwrapped for my birthday was a sliver; the same thickness of books I read in elementary school. It was so short that I was concerned that I had mistakenly added the abridged version to my Amazon wish list.

Turns out, it’s a novella not a novel, and it really is only 54 pages long.

While surprising, I was relieved I had the right version. And, frankly, Stevenson’s brevity was welcomed after the rather hefty books I’d been reading.

However, I hate to admit it, but this reading experience was disappointing.

It wasn’t that the story was poorly written, uninteresting, or contained insufferable characters like some of the other books I’ve read for this blog. No, the novella suffered for one simple reason:

The climatic plot twist that the whole story leads up to wasn’t a surprise.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s shared secret of being the same person is commonly known and has even become a somewhat common expression to explain split personality disorders. Hell, there’s even a superhero that suffers from the same problem. If you know the story of the Hulk, you know the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

So when the whole novella is dedicated to a third party’s investigation of who Mr. Hyde is and his relationship to Dr. Jekyll, it was really hard to be as curious as the character. The mystery and suspense were completely gone. I had hoped that I’d at least get an insight into more of Hyde’s exploits than I did. While the one incident that is described is indeed repugnant, it didn’t seem like enough to show that Hyde was essentially the evil inside Dr. Jekyll come to life. Maybe I’ve just watched too much Game of Thrones and my threshold for horrific if much higher these days…

Either way, I found that a thriller without suspense is really not much of a thrill to read at all. I would really love to have read this story before it became popular and famous. It had all the makings for a really well executed mystery story. It just couldn’t deliver when the ending was spoiled almost a decade ago.