Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub.
Page Count: 352.
Published: July 9, 2013.
Published by: Delacorte Press.
Source: Received a finished copy from Random House Canada in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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.
I probably enjoy Shakespeare more than your average high school graduate but I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan. However, when this book showed up on my radar I was immediately curious. Romeo and Juliet is probably Shakespeare's most well-known work and to see a story that focuses on what happens after was very interesting for me. Still Star-Crossed didn't entirely live up to my expectations, however it was still an enjoyable read that I'm glad I tried out.
Following the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, the Capulet and Montague houses are in mourning, but when it becomes clear that even the deaths of their young lovers will not end the feud, Still Star-Crossed focuses on a proposed solution: the forced engagement of Rosaline, Juliet's Capulet cousin, to Benvolio, Romeo's best friend and fellow Montague. Thus begins what is largely a story about the growth of love, with a mystery and a dash of betrayal to add some excitement. I did enjoy the mystery aspect of the story because it adds another layer not only to the plot but also to many of the characters who originally seem lacking in purpose. It also helps give additional direction for Rosaline and Benvolio, besides their attempts to get out of their upcoming wedding.
The characters were an interesting bunch, some of whom I thought were well developed while others were not as complete as I would have liked. I did appreciate the overall sense of loss and the clear black sheep that is revealed along with the end of the mystery. I also have to say I enjoyed the slight sense of ridicule many of the characters had over Romeo and Juliet's choices because that is certainly relatable nowadays. Livia, Rosaline's younger sister, was one of the more well-developed characters and her relationship with Rosaline as well as her own personal growth over the course of the novel was very well displayed, even though we are not often privy to her private thoughts. I felt like Taub has the capability to create wonderful, compelling characters and just didn't go all the way on some of them.
There was a love triangle present in Still Star-Crossed that was a little cliché, but still managed to be better than many out there. While I did have a preference in suitors, each boy had a story and a reason for the connection with Rosaline that I understood and enjoyed, as well as each having something different to offer her. This made for one of the more realistic love triangles thanks to its development on both sides. While Rosaline was undoubtedly the most developed character, there were instances in which each boy had his moment that allowed me as a reader to understand him better, which made the love triangle more than just an eye-roll-worthy complication for the plot.
I will admit that reading this novel was a little choppy at times because the dialogue is meant to be Shakespearean while the rest of the writing is much more modern-like (not to mention I thought a few of the dialogue bits were not Shakespearean at all, but then again, I'm no expert). As it went on I got more used to it, but it just felt a little awkward at times and occasionally pulled me out of the story itself. Not a deal-breaker for me as, like I said, I got used to it, but if you're particular about these things it may be harder to deal with.
If you enjoy hate-turned-to-love type relationships or enjoyed Romeo and Juliet for the supporting cast, this is probably a good read for you. The mystery was probably my favourite part and it was definitely enjoyable, so I'm glad it at least played the part it did (though I wouldn't have complained if there were a bit more focus on that aspect). The characters, while occasionally underdeveloped, were interesting in that I enjoyed seeing their post-Romeo and Juliet reactions and actions.
A solid 3 stars.