|AUTHOR: Melinda Taub|
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press
PUBLICATION DATE: July 9, 2013
SOURCE: public library Overdrive
GENRE: romance/Shakespeare spin-off
GIVE IT TO: MS, HS
IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Red onions. Lots of flavor, but the Shakespearean language will cause some readers to make a face.
REVIEW: Romeo & Juliet is not my favorite Shakespeare play, but it is probably the one I know best. Still Star-Crossed does a fantastic job staying true to Shakespeare's original, especially in the way it is written. While I do think that is a good thing (and also says lots about author Melinda Taub's writing talent), I believe the flowery dialogue will scare off some potential readers.
I love Shakespeare myself, but even as an adult with a degree in English, Still Star-Crossed isn't the easiest story to read and understand. As tough as Shakespeare is for me now, it was much, much harder when I was a teen. I never would have chosen this book for myself 25 years ago. I understand this story because I have scruntinized R & J for high school and college courses. I have seen tons of R & J spin-off movies and read lots of R & J spin-off books. All of these things give me a prior knowledge base that helps me understand character and language, which most teen readers will not yet have.
It is well-written, but I got bored with the story at times. I skimmed some parts. It picks up when Rosaline and Benvolio make a pact to find a way out of their forced betrothal, but that's not until about halfway through. Action is sparse in places, and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to root for Rosaline + Benvolio or Rosaline + Prince Escalus. Readers who make it to the end will be rewarded with a sweet and satisfying story where roguish Benvolio becomes quite the swoon-worthy suitor. I also enjoyed the subplot involving Rosaline's sister Livia and County Paris, who was previously betrothed to Juliet.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Still Star-Crossed is a well-written spin-off that complements Romeo & Juliet nicely.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. My students do sometimes request Shakespeare, particularly Romeo & Juliet stories, and this book would be an easy sell for those wanting to try it out.
READALIKES: Anyone But You (Askew/Helmes)
- Overall: 4/5
- Creativity: 5/5
- Characters: 4/5
- Engrossing: 3/5--boring in the middle
- Writing: 5/5
- Appeal to teens: 3/5--some readers will be thrown by Shakespearean language
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5
- Language: mild--damn, bastard
- Sexuality: mild--some kisses; bawdy Shakespearean humor / innuendo
- Violence: mild--feuding families; sword-fighting; talk of Romeo and Juliet's suicides
- Drugs/Alcohol: mild; drinking wine at a party
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