Friday, October 1, 2010

Romeo & Juliet & Vampires by William Shakespeare and Claudia Gabel

Book Details
Romeo & Juliet & Vampires by William Shakespeare and Claudia Gabel
Paperback, 256 Pages
2010, HarperTeen
ISBN: 0061976245

"You are deluded, Romeo. Vampires do not have the capability to love. They are heartless."
The Capulets and the Montagues have some deep and essential differences. Blood differences. Of course, the Capulets can escape their vampire fate, and the Montagues can try not to kill their undead enemies. But at the end of the day, their blood feud is unstoppable. So it's really quite a problem when Juliet, a vampire-to-be, and Romeo, the human who should be hunting her, fall desperately in love. What they don't realize is how deadly their love will turn out to be—or what it will mean for their afterlives. . . .

This riotous twist on the ultimate tale of forbidden romance is simply to die for.

Romeo & Juliet is the classic tragic love story. Whether they've read the play or not, everyone knows exactly what happens. I'm a big fan of William Shakespeare. I feel that his plays transcend time and readers can easily find situations and themes in them that apply to modern life. I am also a big mash-up fan. I believe that the current trend of adding monsters to classic works is an entertaining way of dusting them off and wowing new readers. But mash-ups need to do more than add monsters to be successful. They need to add them in a way that enriches the story and makes it as good if not better than the original.

Having said that, Romeo & Juliet & Vampires takes the original play and rewrites it in novel format. I like this change. The novel format gives readers an insight into the thoughts and motivations of the characters that just can't be as clearly conveyed in a play. The wording in Romeo & Juliet & Vampires is also changed from the original. This updating into a more modern method of speech may appeal to those new to Shakespeare's works, but I believe it will disappoint long-time fans. What is Romeo & Juliet without memorable phrases like "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet."?

The very general, very basic idea of Romeo & Juliet is all that is left of the original. The vampires take over this reinvention, completely changing the entire story line. Even the famous, unforgettable ending is completely different. In the end, the book isn't even a tragedy anymore.

Romeo & Juliet & Vampires is very easy to read. It could have been more enjoyable if it didn't veer so far from the original or even if it had went a completely different direction making it more paranormal historical fiction. As it is, the book is too close to the original while being very far away from the message the original was trying to convey.

I believe those who have never read the original will find Romeo & Juliet & Vampires very satisfying, but I doubt who loved the tragedy will feel anything other than disappointment. Perhaps Romeo & Juliet was better left untouched.


Claudia Gabel's

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