YOLO Juliet by William Shakespeare and Brett Wright

In brief:
Romeo and Juliet – in texts, emojis and voice memos!

The good: Great introduction to Shakespeare for any age.

The not-so-good: Some of the classic lines are lost to emojis.

Why I chose it: Thanks to Penguin Random House for these cute books.

Year: 2015

Pages: 112

Publisher: Random House Australia

Setting: In fair Verona, of course!

My rating: 9 out of 10

When I read about the OMG Shakespeare series I couldn’t help but think, ‘Why were these not around then I was at school?’ It’s such a great idea to get kids (and adults) familiar with Shakespeare’s works in a non-threatening, fun environment. Plus, it’s totally up to the minute with emojis, texts, status updates and voice memos. (I must be old. I don’t use the voice memos on my phone!) I think it’s a great way to introduce Shakespeare’s plays without the fear of not understanding the language.

I did study Romeo and Juliet in school and I have seen the Leonardo Di Caprio/Claire Danes Romeo + Juliet numerous times so I’m pretty familiar with the story. Brett Wright does a great job in telling the story (it must be pretty difficult to translate face-to-face scenes into messages) so that you get the idea of what’s happening in terms of plot. He also captures the intrigue and desperation of the couple’s doomed love. The fight scenes didn’t work too well for me (pretty hard to capture that in texts) but I loved the use of emojis. The abbreviations are quite addictive (I’ve picked up FML, which means something completely different in my work life!) and there is a glossary at the back in case you have FOMO at IDK or SMH at the 411.

You do miss out on some of the classic lines (biting thumbs, what light through yonder window breaks etc.) but I think YOLO Juliet is an excellent primer to know the story before delving into the original Shakespeare. It’s also way more entertaining than Cliff’s Notes (if they still exist). It’s also a great way to relive the story with a bit of fun (think autocorrect, a mum who always signs her text and an interfering nurse).

Here’s an example of how it’s written:

I really enjoyed this story as an adult (it’s such a laugh and the fact that my English Lit teacher would be horrified is just the icing on the cake) but I think it would be great for young teens to enjoy too. It would be a great stocking stuffer this Christmas.

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