Jill Jekel has problems. Her scientist father has recently been murdered, and the police don't seem to care. Her mother isn't doing well, especially since Jill's father emptied their bank accounts before his death. Jill escapes into her "good girl" image and pours herself into her school work until Tristen Hyde, the one person who was able to comfort her at her father's funeral, wants to work on a science competition with her which could result in enough money for her to attend college. The catch? Tristen believes that Jill's father's notes replicating the literary Mr. Jekyll's experiments that result in the creation of the evil Dr. Hyde will help him overcome his family curse-- being the offspring of the evil doctor and given to murderous rages and blackouts. The experiments seem successful, but when Tristen drinks the potion that removes the evil from his character, it also removes his artistic ability at playing the piano. His father, who also suffers from these rages to the extent that he killed Tristen's mother, thinks that Tristen will drink the potion again in order to regain his talents. When Jill also gets a taste of the potion, things get more and more complicated.
I loved Ms. Fantaskey's Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, because it was a good twist on the vampire genre, and I had great hopes for this story. However, I found it a bit hard to get into, as well as confusing at certain points. Combine this with Tristen's predilection for dropping the f-bomb and the rather disturbing sexuality (dating violence) that emerges, and this becomes a high school book. Since just this morning I read the Columbus Dispatch article on obscenity, I am almost ready to throw up my hands and just ignore bad words, but still come down on the "if you can get suspended for saying it, the library books shouldn't have it" side.
This is the third in a series; I picked it up at a book look. Kickoff and Go Long are the other books.
8th graders Tiki and Ronde play for the Eagles, Their team is fairly successful until their best player, Adam, fails several classes and is ineligible to play. He obtains a tutor, but still can't pass the make up tests. He also feels that the team hates him. Tiki and Ronde are unsure what to do until they are prompted by their mother to contact Adam and help him study for his classes. There are a lot of play-by-plays in this book, and the "problem" is dealt with lightly and realistically. Mantell has done a lot of books for the Matt Christoper sports series, and this is another solid and appealing sports book. My only objection is that the covers make the boys appear about ten, and are certainly too cartoonish for my 8th graders too pick up willingly. For readers of Wallace's Winning Season books, these will be a sure hit.
See what I mean about the covers, though? The Wild Card cover would be more appealing to 3rd or 4th graders, even though it is a perfect book for older readers who struggle a bit. Those readers are also usually sensitive to their abilities and do not want to be caught with anything that looks the least bit babyish.