Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Anyone But You (Askew/Helmes)

AUTHOR: Kim Askew, Amy Helmes
SERIES: Twisted Lit, book 3
PUBLISHER: Merit Press
PUBLICATION DATE: January 18, 2014
ISBN: 9781440570018
PAGES: 224
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: realistic, romance
SUMMARY: This twist on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet examines the origins of the feud between two prominent Chicago families that both own Italian eateries only blocks apart. Chapters alternate between now, when Roman Monte and Gigi Caputo meet and fall for one another, and the past, where the feud began with a rift between two best friends.

WHAT I LIKED: This story follows Shakespeare's original in some unique ways. You have Gigi Caputo and Roman Monte (Romeo and Juliet) meeting at a party and falling for each other despite the inexplicable feud between their families. Gigi's cousin Ty (Tybalt) talks a lot of smack and ends up getting hurt at Roman's hands. Another boy, Perry (Paris), wants to date Gigi and attempts to use his family's influence to do just that. There is also a B-17 fighter plane called "Fair Rosaline," a "lark" singing sweetly, and several quotations from the original play. Better yet, each of the chapter titles is a quotation from Romeo & Juliet.

I liked how there are two stories going on simultaneously. Both are interesting and both are strongly connected. Readers will know early on that Benny and Nick are going to have a falling out over Stella at some point, but what will cause it? How is it that they never resolved it after all this time? What came of the situation? Askew and Helmes weave both stories together seamlessly and with perfect timing.

I liked the ending! It goes with Romeo & Juliet but the feud ends in a much happier way than its predecessor. Anyone But You would make a fantastic companion novel for high school English classes reading Romeo & Juliet. I think reading Anyone But You might help struggling readers draw modern connections to characters and dialogue from the original. It would also help introduce middle school readers to the classic story that they will most likely have to read in high school.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: As in R & J, the romance and "I love yous" come way too quickly, and I am never a fan of the insta-love. None of the characters are well-developed, and I never really bought into Roman and Gigi as a couple. We're talking like two dates here; what do they even know about each other? Why should readers care about whether or not they make it as a couple?

THE BOTTOM LINE: It's fun and cute and follows Shakespeare's original quite well. Teens will enjoy this story, even if they are not familiar with Romeo & Juliet.


READALIKES: Tempestuous (Askew; twist on Shakespeare's The Tempest), Exposure (Askew, twist on Shakespeare's Macbeth); Romiette & Julio (Draper)

  • Overall: 4/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 3/5
  • Engrossing: 3/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

  • Language: mild; a few damns
  • Sexuality: mild; some kissing, Roman's hands start to roam under Gigi's shirt, but she stops the kiss before it goes further
  • Violence: mild; some empty threats of fighting
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none
  • Other: (highlight to view--contains spoiler)--Librarians/teachers/parents concerned about the suicide at the end of R & J can rest easy--there is no suicide in this one.
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