Star-Crossed Lovers: Romeo and Juliet Retellings

When I was in high school, my classmates and I all thought that Romeo and Juliet was terribly romantic. After all, you have this couple that falls so deeply in love that not even death is enough to stop them. Even the name “Romeo” has become a byword for an amorous man. But, as an adult, while I can still appreciate the beauty of Shakespeare’s writing, I can’t help but feel that so much could have been avoided if only the people involved put a little bit more thought into things, took a deep breath, and waited just a moment. But, it can’t be helped now.

For those of you who enjoy the romance of this classic by the Bard, then I’d like to suggest some further titles. These are all stories based on or heavily influenced by Romeo and Juliet.

Okay! Let’s start with a funny one! Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable Path Adventure is a retelling of the classic play where you decide what happens. Step one: Choose to play as either Romeo or Juliet. Step two, every time you get to a choice at the end of a page…choose. Rinse and repeat. And remember: this is not your high school assigned reading! Each scenario becomes more original (or even outlandish) than the last. What if Romeo never met Juliet? What if Juliet, fed up with being told what to do, decides to bulk up instead and be the hero of her own story? What if the two of them joined forces to take over the city in robot suits? The choice is up to you! This book is legitimately funny, and features illustrations from a slew of different artists. And like any choose-your-own-adventure book, this will provide hours of ridiculous entertainment.

We all know how the story ends. Juliet wakes up from her drug-induced slumber to find that Romeo has killed himself in despair over her “death”. And when she realizes that he’s dead, she drives his dagger into her heart, so that she too can spend eternity with him. But, that’s not what really happened….at least, not according to Juliet Immortal. Instead, Juliet did not commit suicide; she was murdered. By Romeo. In this dark retelling, Romeo kills his “beloved” in order to gain eternal life. But, he didn’t count on Juliet becoming immortal, as well. For hundreds of years, these star-crossed enemies are in constant deadlock, as Juliet does all that she can to preserve purity and romance, and Romeo seeks to destroy the human heart. This dark fantasy series is not for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy it, the story concludes in the sequel: Romeo Redeemed.

Romeo and Juliet and… zombies? Yes, you read that right! Warm Bodies is a loosely-inspired Romeo and Juliet tale, where at least half of the characters are in fact, dead. Well, undead, anyway. R is a zombie. He spends his time hanging out with his friend M and shuffling, riding escalators, eating people… you know, usual zombie activities. But, there’s something special about R. When he eats someone’s brains, he can see their memories. When he eats Perry, the leader of an zombie-slaying expedition, R sees Perry’s memories of a very special girl–Julie. And suddenly R has feelings that he can’t understand. And perhaps even more confusing, he realizes that instead of eating Julie, he needs to protect her–at all costs. So, he essentially kidnaps her and brings her back to his home in an abandoned jet plane. As R and Julie begin to get to know each other, and she realizes that she’s not in danger being eaten, the two become friends, with Julie learning to open up, and R relearning what it means to be human. Fair warning: this one can be pretty gruesome at times (I mean, zombies, y’all!), so those who don’t like a lot of violence might want to try something else on this list.

In this creative reimagining, Romeo and Juliet (or rather, Julie and Romeo) are both florists in Boston. Their families have hated each other for as long as the pair can remember, although no one is entirely sure why. When Romeo and Julie see each other at a crowded business seminar, it’s an instant attraction. And while they don’t know where things will lead, they are not about to let a silly feud between their families stand in their way of happiness. But, of course, nothing is easy, as they soon learn. With Romeo’s elderly mother, Julie’s meddling ex-husband, and the rest of the Cacciamani and Roseman families getting involved with a passionate hatred, these star-crossed lovers will have to find a way to make love work, even though everything else seems to be working against them. Witty and fun, this is a delightful romance for fans of the Shakespearean original who are looking for something with a more modern flair.

After vandals attack her family’s pizza restaurant (again), Gigi Caputo is fed up. Everyone knows that the Montes, the owners of a rival Italian restaurant are to blame, as they have been for generations. This is about more than just pizza–this is war. So, Gigi determines to get to the bottom of the feud. But, in a secret encounter with Roman Monte, it’s love at first sight. But, certainly a Caputo and a Monte falling in love is just a recipe for disaster, right? As the two begin to investigate into the family history, they discover that the fighting goes way back, all the way to the summer of 1933, when two boys, Benny and Nick, sneak into the Chicago World’s Fair, and have an encounter that will cause a permanent rift between them. But, will Gigi and Roman be able to undo decades of pain and finally bring their families back together? Anyone But You is the third book in the Twisted Lit series, but each book can be read as a standalone. If you want to continue reading, check out book 1: Tempestuous, based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Erin

I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.