Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout

The Basics:
Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout
Entangled: Teen
Published Feb 4, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

The cover has this amazing Gothic feel, and I loved the idea of Romeo fighting for Juliet even beyond death.


Never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo...

But true love never dies. Though they're parted by the veil between the world of mortals and the land of the dead, Romeo believes he can restore Juliet to life, but he'll have to travel to the underworld with a thoroughly infuriating guide.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, may not have inherited his father's crown, but the murdered king left his son a much more important responsibility---a portal to the Afterjord, where the souls of the dead reside. When the determined Romeo asks for help traversing the treacherous Afterjord, Hamlet sees an opportunity for adventure and the chance to avenge his father's death.

In an underworld filled with leviathan monsters, ghoulish shades, fire giants, and fierce Valkyrie warriors, Hamlet and Romeo must battle their way through jealousy, despair, and their darkest fears to rescue the fair damsel. Yet finding Juliet is only the beginning, and the Afterjord doesn't surrender souls without a price...

My thoughts:

For me, Such Sweet Sorrow started slow with characters that I couldn't quite connect to, but it ended very strong.

This is a great book for fans of Shakespeare - there's easter egg quotes and moments sprinkled throughout (my favorite was easily Hamlet holding up and pondering a skull). The book also carries a certain style that feels Shakespearean - the dialogue is obviously not written in iambic pentameter, but particularly early on in the book, it had a tone that fit within that Shakespearean mode.

In terms of pacing, the beginning and middle of the book felt a little aimless to me. Yes, Romeo has his mission - to rescue Juliet from beyond the grave - but there's not a really plan in place for finding her nor for how to save her or what might even happen once she's been found. He and Hamlet literally keep moving forward (true after Juliet's been discovered as well), and hope that this will allow them to eventually find what they're looking for. I needed a bit more direction from the characters - they were very reactive (out of necessity to a point) to what they faced in the underworld, and I wanted them to be proactive, I guess.

That said, the last third of the book, and even down to the last three or so chapters, I found were quite good. I liked where the book ended, and what it suggested about the future of these characters.

There was definitely some character development here, but because the characters seemed a little one dimensional to me as we first met them, that wasn't too hard. Romeo could be equated to a quick temper, Hamlet the jester and Juliet is the quiet, loving maid of Romeo's memory. As we get to them, these traits blossom into more complicated personaliites - certainly Juliet is far from what Romeo's mind conjures up - but I don't know that I really engaged deeply with any of them. No new book BFFs or book boyfriends here. Again, the ending goes a long way - the love affair between Romeo and Juliet feels finally believable as the book closes, and there's something interesting about Hamlet that could draw me in for more.

Bottom line:

Though the beginning and middle lagged for me, I found the ending surprisingly satisfying. Enjoyable with moderate expectations, definitely something here for fans of Shakespeare and for lovers of the ultimate star-crossed lovers.

If you do pick it up, stick it out to the end because once you've started, it's really worth a complete read!

Note: At the time of this post, the book is on sale for 99 cents!

3.5 stars
For fans of Romeo and Juliet, ghost-seeing Danes, tales about the great beyond, Norse mythology.

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