In 2017, Romeo and Juliet is getting the Shondaland touch.
Though more famous for adult drama than for teen romance, Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder) has decided to produce the television adaptation of Still Star-Crossed, a novel that explores the what-ifs of the fallout after the two lovers’ deaths. This show will be totally unlike the predictable film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet we all watched in high school English (no offense, Leo): it promises new intrigues, secrets, duels, betrayals, and passions…truly a show that will teach all the other shows to burn brighter.
But while you wait for the premiere, you can satisfy all your Romeo and Juliet cravings with any (or all!) of the following literary adaptations. Some act as sequels, some introduce magic and time travel, some invite readers to stroll along the cobbled streets of Verona–but they all provide the heart-wrenching drama and tender romance we all know and love.
1. Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub
The book that inspired the TV show, Still Star-Crossed picks up about two weeks after Romeo and Juliet’s passing. Rosaline, 17 years old and devastated over her cousin’s death, is ordered by the Prince of Verona to marry Benvolio in an attempt to finally end the bloodshed between the houses of Capulet and Montague. Rosaline and Benvolio, however, would rather marry mud-covered pigs than each other. But what can they do when the peace efforts fail, when love seems to lose all potency, and when the dead seem to rise from their graves? Why, use their not-inconsiderable wit, charm, and bantering abilities to save their families, each other, and the city itself.
2. Juliet by Anne Fortier
Did you know that Shakespeare’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet was not the first? It’s actually based on stories and plays written decades earlier than his own work. Tenderly written and incredibly well-researched, Fortier’s novel explores that literary history and all its possibilities. The heroine of her novel, Julie Jacobs, is the last descendant of the original Juliet and is fated to break the centuries-old curse set upon the Capulets and Montagues. But unfortunately for Julie, she has no idea how. She’s also rather busy dealing with her obnoxious twin sister, trying to get out of debt, and investigating her parents’ deaths. Can she avoid making the same mistakes as her ancestors? Discover the truth about her mother? Recognize Romeo before it’s all too late?
3. Prince of Shadows: A Novel of Romeo and Juliet by Rachel Caine
Wickedly fun and darkly entertaining, Prince of Shadows sidelines the often over-dramatized relationship between Romeo and Juliet to focus on Benvolio Montague, a talented thief and rebellious spirit, and his burgeoning affection for Rosaline Capulet, Juliet’s determinedly independent older cousin. But the Capulets are still Capulets, the Montagues still Montagues–can Benvolio and Rosaline escape the epic tragedy their famous relatives are known for, or will the blood feud still prevail?
4. Juliet Immortal (Juliet Immortal #1) by Stacey Jay
Romeo and Juliet is already known for doomed love and catastrophic misunderstandings, but Jay’s novel takes all that tragedy to another level. In her adaptation, Juliet didn’t just die–she was actually killed by Romeo, who was convinced by the Mercenaries (beings of ultimate evil) to kill his true love in order to gain immortality. Just before her death, Juliet accepts a place among the Ambassadors (the archenemies of the Mercenaries who strive to preserve goodness and love in the world). Thus begins a centuries-long cat-and-mouse game: Juliet is sent to protect two lovers and preserve their bond, and Romeo is sent to destroy it.
But then, while escaping from a murderous Romeo, Juliet meets Ben. Ben is sweet, intelligent, and understanding–and he’s also one of the two lovers that Juliet is supposed to protect and guide. Can Juliet put aside her feelings to help Ben and his true love find their way? Evade Romeo and the other Mercenaries before she and her friends are all killed? Juliet Immortal offers heady drama, betrayal and forgiveness, and a series of agonizing decisions.
5. Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors
In a word, Saving Juliet is fun. Light-hearted, engaging, and a quick read, the novel records the time-traveling adventures of Mimi and Troy, two bickering actors who suddenly go from acting out Romeo and Juliet in New York to walking the streets of Verona and trying to save the two famous lovers from meeting their tragic ends. Though a bit cliche in some areas–like so many YA books, this novel showcases a stereotypical hot-but-shallow guy who miraculously turns out to be still-hot-but-actually-sensitive-and-deep-and-brave in the end–Saving Juliet is rescued by Selfors’ delightfully spunky depiction of Juliet. Rather than bow down to her parents’ whims or rely on a lovesick boy to save her, this Juliet stuffs her mouth with onions and spreads rumors about her enormous boils in order to escape her marriage to Paris. You definitely don’t want to get on her bad side.
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