Here I am once again telling you all about a reimagining that just did not grab me.
Honestly, we don’t get enough Romeo and Juliet reimaginings in the YA world (unless I’m missing some. Let me know!) especially ones with such a unique setting. So naturally, I requested this here novel from Edelweiss (thank you btw, you continue to shower me in literature). Like the play, we have two rival gangs vying for a piece of the city. In the center of it all we have Juliette and Roma, the respective heirs of both Scarlett Gang and White Flowers. When a madness begins to spread throughout the city, the “star-crossed lovers” find themselves teaming up for the common good.
First things first. Chloe Gong’s writing is impeccable, and I know she has poured her soul into this book and has taken the time to write and rewrite a million times, but please, teach me your ways! I love the way she builds this world to a point where you think you’re actually there, eating its food and battling its monsters.
Unfortunately, the beautiful writing couldn’t save my rating. There’s a lot going on in this book. Gong takes the simple enemy to lovers trope and turns it upside down and fills it with politics and manufactured murderous insects, which felt fantastical for 1920’s Shangai. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a complete idiot when it comes to history and most of it I learn from my husband’s long-winded dinner conversations. But my mind went everywhere with this book. At first, I couldn’t get Baz Luhrmann’s rendition of the play out of my head. I wanted Tyler to dig a steel toe boot into the dirt and squint at me in that sexy way John Leguizamo did to my teenage hormones. But its unfair to compare the two at all, I know.
I went in for the enemy to lovers trope. I mean, it’s Romeo and Juliet, right? My expectations fell flat. I was expecting a more fleshed out, sweet romance. I did not see much of that. Juliette and Roma were once lovers years ago, so this isn’t the first time they’ve delved into a relationship with each other. But all of that was off-page, in the past.
I will continue the series, just to read Gong’s prose and drool over it. I am hoping the story draws me in a bit more than the first
Writers write the books they want to write and we are not forced to like them. I appreciate it what Chloe Gong did to Shakespeare; it’s no easy undertaking. And I look forward to what she does in the future.