Still Star Crossed by Melinda Taub

16085488 Still Star Crossed is Romeo and Juliet meets Much Ado About Nothing, rewritten as a fun YA novel with a bit of Disney thrown in. It's set in Verona after the end of Romeo and Juliet, and is told from the point of view of two teenagers of different houses: Romeo's once Capulet-crush Rosaline, and his only surviving best friend, Benvolio. They, understandably, hate each other. But Prince Escalus has decided that only a Capulet-Montague wedding can truly unite the houses, and our two protagonists are the focus of his plan.

The result is a lot of fun. They hate each other! But they must work together to stop the violence and their wedding! And actually, they might possibly grow to love each other! But even love will not stop their bickering and banter. Add in some swordfights, secret meetings, plots, hidden rooms, chases through the countryside and kisses in storms, and you've got a recipe for a pretty addictive book.

Of course, the success of a book like this rests on the protagonists, and luckily Rosaline and Benvolio are both great. Rosaline is a badass, without wielding a sword. She's mastered the art of defiance and quick wit, and is brave and determined and intelligent to boot. Benvolio is a little less compelling, but he makes a really fun antagonistic romantic lead. He's funny and flirty, kindhearted and generally sensible but a little hot tempered, and he'll never say anything serious when a bit of banter will do.

Part of the plot is, unsurprisingly, a bit predictable, but that's actually one of the book's strengths. If you pick up a book like this, you know what you're in for, and the smug, delighted "I know you're really going to fall in love" feeling every time the protagonists bicker is part of the fun. Plus, beyond the romance, there are many plot twists that I did not see coming, at all, including things that I thought I had all figured out a third of the way through the book, only to find out I was completely wrong after all.

And the Disney tones? I can't really say which scenes reminded me of Disney movies without saying giving some of the plot away, but I definitely got some Beauty and the Beast and some Pocahontas at least. But as a Disney fan, I can only see this as a plus.

The book does have a couple of weaknesses. The dialogue attempts to recreate Shakespearean English, with lots of thees and thous, which is annoying at first, but easy to ignore once you get into the swing of the book. And there is a love triangle, with the non-Benvolio character pulling a major jerk move that made me wonder why Rosaline might ever forgive him. But all in all, Still Star Crossed is just plain fun. It's absolutely delightful. And if you're looking for a book that you can just enjoy, this is a great one to try.