I told you I couldn’t wait for this one! I was given a digital copy of #romanandjewel by #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
SUMMARY (From GoodReads):
If Romeo and Juliet got the Hamilton treatment…who would play the leads? This vividly funny, honest, and charming romantic novel by Dana L. Davis is the story of a girl who thinks she has what it takes…and the world thinks so, too.
Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead…and Jerzie is her understudy.
Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea–especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless.
The plot is a cheesy, tooth-rotting sweet love story and that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be! It’s a lovely homage to what is possibly the most famous love story ever written in the English language. I also appreciated that the plot moved quickly and kept me turning the pages.
As for the characters, well, Jerzie is perfect. I would not change a thing about her. She avoids all the issues I have with YA heroines: she’s diverse, she’s smart, she stands up for herself, and she makes mistakes that every teenager would make in her position.
Zeppelin, on the other hand, is a little too perfect, and it wasn’t really clear how old he was. He’s definitely older than Jerzie, a legal adult in fact, but how much older? When he was first introduced, I imagined him as around 20, but then he and Jerzie started flirting…she’s only 16, so I was a little uncomfortable.
Now to talk about the writing. First, I thought that Jerzie (the first-person narrator) had a strong voice and she’s exactly what was needed. Overall, the writing, in my opinion, needs some polish, but this is an advanced copy so I’m sure a polish will be done. The author makes several allusions to modern performers, which is fine, but the lead character compares her physical appearance to Lupita Nyong’o (gorgeous) and her voice to Sia. I would much prefer the author describe those things with details—show not tell.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! In fact, I’m ordering a copy for my class library because I’m sure my theatre and English students will love it as much as I did.