Book Review: The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jensen

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jensen goodreads page

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I had a lot of mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I absolutely flew through it. On the other hand, it wasn’t actually . . . good? Which isn’t even to say I don’t recommend it—it’s an over-the-top, fluffy, vaguely trashy sapphic read, and if that’s what you go into it expecting I doubt you’ll be disappointed. The fact is, whatever else you say about it, it’s fun.

I don’t have a lot of coherent thoughts about this book, so let’s just dive into a list of things now:

– the writing is . . . truly horrible? Maybe I’m being a bit harsh (and it does get better as the book goes on), but I almost DNFd this within like three chapters because I was so deeply not here for it. It was just . . . sort of really juvenile and rough, like something you’d find in a high school creative writing assignment from someone who didn’t reallywant to be doing this. I do understand that’s an ARC, and it’s possible that the final copy is written better, but . . . it didn’t feel like the base was there—this wasn’t just rough from lack of polishing, I don’t think.

– the characters are pretty well written, and I liked the main cast. I wouldn’t say they were super spectacular characters, or that I’ll think about them constantly, but . . . I liked them. I will say though, that I thought these decent-but-not-amazing characters carried the book and . . . I think that tells you all you need to know.

– I appreciated aspects of the rep, however I had an issue with the way this book discussed outness. I didn’t like the way it was handled. Every queer character in this book who wasn’t fully out was constantly pressured to come out, to be more out—and worse than that, it was never called out. I would love to read a book that examines the pressure to be more out than you’re ready to be, however this book was definitely not that book.

– theatre! I may have found a few details a little . . . over-exaggerated . . . but overall I really loved the depiction of theatre in this book. I am weak for a theatre book, and this book delivered. Reading about theatre feels like a warm hug, and I really loved seeing that in here

– also though there was one scene, and it was just like a page or two but . . . I don’t think it’s okay for the white character to wish her friend, aka the token poc, would be more tactful when calling out cultural appropriation. this book clearly tried to make some points, but then it did things like this and made them fall flat

Overall? This was okay. I didn’t love it, I don’t exactly recommend it, but I’m going to say oh don’t read it either. It was decent, fun, but ultimately deeply forgettable.

Have you read/are you planning to read this book?

What are your favourite theatre books?

(bonus points for queer theatre books)

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