Rummanah Aasi
 I'm a big fan of the Bard and I am always excited to read a new retelling or adaptation of his plays. Both Anyone But You and Still-Starcrossed touch upon the famous play, Romeo and Juliet. While Anyone But You attempts to retell the famous play, Still Starcrossed is a more interested about the play's aftermath.

Description: These violent delights have violent ends...
Gigi Caputo is fed up. A vicious act of vandalism has dealt another blow to her family's proud pizza heritage, and the Montes--owners of a rival Italian restaurant--are clearly to blame. The hostility goes far beyond bragging rights for best pizza in Chicago. The Montes have been bent on destroying Cap's for four generations. Even if it means putting herself in harm's way, Gigi's determined to get to the bottom of the feud. Instead, in a secret encounter with Roman Monte, the very boy whose relatives have brought her family such grief, she finds both danger and love at first sight. If the daughter and son of these two warring families fall for each other, can it be anything but a recipe for disaster? Slowly, Gigi and Roman learn that their story is fatefully linked to the summer of 1933, when two twelve-year-olds, Benny and Nick, hop the turnstile at the Chicago World's Fair. The most stunning wonder of the fair is Stella, who innocently causes a lasting rift between the two boyhood.

Review: Anything But You is a clunky retelling of Romeo and Juliet that left me wanting more. The story is set Chicago's Little Italy and finds Gigi (nickname for Julietta) Caputo and Roman Monte falling hard for each other despite the generations-old feud between their families. Though the Montes' latest prank threatens to destroy her family's restaurant business and send them packing to Peoria, Gigi can't deny the power of first love. Together, she and Roman set out to uncover the truth behind the war and to heal old wounds so that they can be together.
  The book has a promising premise, but the novel never successfully rises to meet it. The story line of Gigi and Roman lacks chemistry and romance. I didn't believe these characters were so head over heels for each other at all. It only came across as a crush and the characters of Gigi and Roman lack depth. They actually spend little time with each other and their part of the story moves too quickly. I actually found myself skimming their parts and being sucked into the families history of how the feud began. I would rather have preferred if the authors stuck to the families history rather than switching back to present day.
 Alternating between the two story lines and time lines were not very smooth and as a reader it took me a long time to distinguish the two. The book has all of the requisite people and parts, but it ultimately lacks a heart and soul. It has many cliches and the story, while happy compared to the original, feels contrived. Readers looking for a great romance will be disappointed here and would be better off skipping this one.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: Some language and some crude humor. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Romeo's Ex by Lisa Fiedler, Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper


Description: Romeo and Juliet are gone. Will love live on? Despite the glooming peace that's settled on Verona after the recent tragedy, Montagues and Capulets are brawling in the streets. Faced with more bloody battles, Prince Escalus concludes that the only way to truly marry the fortunes of these two families is to literally marry them together. Everyone is skeptical, but none more so than the pair selected, for the most eligible Montague bachelor is Benvolio, Romeo's best friend, still anguished by the loss of his companions, and the chosen Capulet maid is Juliet's older cousin Rosaline, the girl Romeo first loved and whose refusal of Romeo's affection paved the way for bloodshed. Contrary to their late cousins, there's no love lost between Benvolio and Rosaline, yet they forge a bond to end the renewed feud not only to escape their forced betrothal, but to save their lives and the city of Verona itself.

Review: To my delight and surprise, I really enjoyed this fast-paced, captivating, and fascinating homage to the Bard's best-loved plays. Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Romeo, and Juliet have all perished by the sword or by poison, and yet the houses of Capulet and Montague still rage against each other. Prince Escalus, desperate for peace in his city, determines that the only way to end the bloodshed is for a marriage to take place between the households. Rosaline, niece to Capulet, who once rejected Romeo, and Benvolio, nephew to Lord Montague, are the chosen for the marriage but they have no interested in marrying each other and resolve to end the violence without approaching the altar.
  While Still Star-Crossed uses the same characters, themes, and the back-drop of the original, Taub manages to forge her own story filled with intrigue and romance. Rosalind and Benevolio who are minor characters (especially Rosalind who is only mentioned by Shakespeare) is fully developed as three dimensional characters. I loved watching these two characters bicker with each other about their disgust of the prospect of marriage to each other and slowly develop friendship and mutual admiration turned to love. The progression of their romance was nicely developed and I was thrilled to not find insta-romance.
  The secondary characters in the story are quite good too. Escalus and Friar Lawrence, though less important, are believably complex. The period details of costume and custom greatly enhance the story's realism, and the quick-moving action will keep readers both alert and entranced. Taub does use the Shakespearean language of "thou" and "wherefore" are sprinkled throughout the book might annoy some but I actually liked the anachronistic way the narrative was written. As an added bonus, you will find other Shakespeare characters from other plays star in guest roles. Still Star-Crossed is one of the best Shakespearean retelling I've read and I highly recommend it as a stand alone read or serving as a back-door introduction to the original. I really look forward to reading what Taub writes next.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some violence, crude sexual humor, and a scene of underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: The Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine, Romeo x Juliet Ombinus by COM (and the anime of the same title is great too!), Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors
6 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I haven't heard of either of these Rummanah! I think I'll take a pass on the first one, it's never fun to start skimming through parts of a book, but the second one sound fantastic. The slow progression of the romance is a nice change from Romeo and Juliet's tragic insta-love:) Thanks for sharing these!


  2. Aw... would have thought that the first one would have been much better. I was thinking "yes!" until I read your review. Yea, I do think I'll pass.

    Oh and the second one.... hm... I enjoyed one R&J retelling so I think I need to try this one as well. I haven't heard of it so thanks for putting it on my radar!


  3. Oh, too bad about Anyone But You, I have that one to read and have been enjoying the beginning of it. I think I'd like the Still Starcrossed novel definitely! So have you found an adult novel you like yet? Something to break your streak of dull books?


  4. I haven't heard of either of these, but Still Star-Crossed sounds like one I might want to pick up! Seeing what happens after all the death and destruction of the Capulet-Montague feud is definitely interesting to me. Anyone But You definitely sounds like something I'm comfortable skipping. Thank you for your lovely reviews!


  5. I never liked Romeo and Juliet because I found their romance to be unbelievable and just found the characters dumb for killing themselves. But I would be interested in reading Still Star-Crossed because it doesn't have an insta-love romance. I always wonder what happens after "The End" so it's nice that an author imagined what does.


  6. Small Review Says:

    I'm really glad I read your review for Still Star-Crossed. I had decided to pass over that book because I just didn't have high hopes for it. I haven't seen too many successful Shakespeare retellings and this one didn't seem like it would offer much. I LOVE the way you describe the romance though! It sounds like something I'd like. I'm add this to my TBR now because of your review. Thanks!


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