Summary (from Goodreads):
“A thrilling retelling of the star-crossed tale of Romeo and Juliet, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Morganville Vampires series.
In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and—if they survive—marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born.
Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona—and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona…
…And will rewrite all their fates, forever.”
I read Romeo & Juliet in ninth grade, but probably haven’t read it since. I did see two versions of the movie (both versions that everyone’s seen, the Leo-and-Claire one and the one with the actual teenagers, Olivia Hussey and the boy whose name I don’t remember), but I haven’t seen those in years, either.
I point that out to say this: I had only a vague recollection of the play. I remembered the highlights (mainly with Romeo & Juliet) but not really what happened when to any other characters. And so the fact that this was told from Benvolio’s perspective meant that it was basically a completely new literary experience for me. (And, given the changes made to the story, likely for you, no matter how familiar you are with the original story.)
I absolutely loved Benvolio and the other characters in this. It’s a retelling of R&J, yes, but we don’t spend that much time with them, especially at first. No, this is Benvolio’s story, and so obviously we see him the most and we also spend a lot of time with Mercutio. And I have to tell you, Mercutio is one of my absolute favorite characters, ever. (Well, THIS Mercutio. I don’t really remember Shakespeare’s version.)
I’m not going to tell you all the changes and variations in this plot, because it’s an absolute delight to discover these secrets for yourself. But I can guarantee you will have an excellent time.