Hey, hey everyone! Today’s review is going to be cut a bit short, since I’m leaving to get dinner with a close friend that I haven’t seen in like over a month, but I still want to get some reading material out to all you lovely followers. I was going to review How to Start a Fire today by Lisa Lutz, but since I love that book so much and want more time to write about my feelings on that one, I’m going to review a shorter book that I’m much less passionate about. Sorry if that’s a disappointment.
This is a graphic novel based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Hinds mixes up the story a bit to emphasize how universal Shakespeare’s idea was by making the two feuding families different races: African American and Indian. Hinds brings Shakespeare’s story to life through illustrations that make the themes and occurrences of the story come to life before your eyes. I don’t think I need to explain the plot further; we’re all familiar with the story of Romeo and Juliet, right?
*click the image to be redirected to the books Goodread’s page*
I found this book at the Library and was pretty excited, since I’m a huge Shakespeare fan and also a huge graphic novel fan (as you’ve all probably noticed), so combining the two seemed like a fantastic idea. However, I was completely disappointed with this book and found it to be a waste of time (even if it was a quick read).
First off, the only positive thing I felt about this book: I really liked that Hinds took a risk and mixed up the races of the characters. I thought that was a super cool idea and made this book utterly unique in at least one aspect. I thought for sure it was an idea I was going to like. But, I don’t think it fit well with the story. Since Hinds had already mixed up the concept of Romeo and Juliet and race, I thought he honestly could have written a completely fresh story.
Romeo and Juliet has been told a million times. I was hoping for something with more of a fresh twist.
I also felt that Hinds doesn’t fully understand what Shakespeare was trying to get across with his original play. I have studied and read most of Shakespeare’s works, most of them more than once, and to say I’m a fan would be an understatement. So, I felt like Hinds was grasping at straws and had removed much of the main message that Romeo and Juliet sends. He left the text in Shakespeare’s original iambic pentameter writing and, by doing so, I feel like he cut out so many of the funny bits (because Romeo and Juliet is actually satire and contains so many laugh out loud moments), so that was a big let down.
I don’t think leaving this text in iambic pentameter was Hinds best choice, especially because it slowed the pace and was hard to follow with so much of the original text cut out. I totally understand why a lot of the sexual jokes were cut out since this is marketed towards young adults, but by cutting out most of these scenes in their entirety doesn’t make the story easier to follow; it makes it harder. Plus, he cut out way more than just the sexual bits. Too much.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the setting being left in Verona (although the illustrations made me a bit reminiscent of Verona since I was just there last summer – it was super overrated). Since he changed the races of the characters, it would have been totally fun to mix up the setting as well, which would have shown even more how universal the story was since it would show that it could happen anywhere. Hinds really didn’t think this through. It also came across that Hinds didn’t know that Shakespeare never actually went to Verona – He never left England, actually. He had no idea what his settings around Europe looked like in real life. He was a poor man and only knew what he saw and heard from his inner London circle. I read Hinds author’s note at the back of the book and it came across as very uninformed.
I don’t know, I just feel like Hinds could have done so much more with this. The possibilities were endless. I wanted this book to be so much more than just another bland retelling of a story that’s already been retold too many times. Or, maybe I’m just too much of a Shakespeare nerd.
All in all, though, my final verdict is that I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. It was bland, irritating, and boring. Plus, it was hard to follow and lacked so much of the original story that it didn’t come together for me at all. I found myself just aching to finish this to be done instead of actually wanting to finish it because I enjoyed it. This book was meh. Don’t waste your time on it, honestly.
That’s it for this week everyone. I hope you all have a super fantastic weekend! I’ll be back (hopefully – I’m going to force myself to actually make a Sunday Review this week) Sunday in case you missed anything this week.
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