Review | The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen

I received The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating: 3 Stars

Publication Date: 22nd September 2020


Alison Green, desperate valedictorian-wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.”

Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.


I was so excited to read ‘The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life‘ early for a few different reasons. I was a theatre kid at school and then university and studied Shakespeare! I even had a terrible second year due to my Shakespeare module but still love that genuis bard! I love reading YA books that have kids who love acting or get involved with their school play. This synopsis really caught my eye, as did the book cover!

Alison is that typical Hermione-kind of character that is solely focused on high grades and wanting to get the highest school acolade: Valedictorian. She’s even drooling over the trophy case at the beginning of the book! In order to get a little closer to her dream, she agrees to help one of her teachers co-produce the school play. That doesn’t end up working out for her as the same teacher leaves her high-and-dry with the work.

She does have some great friends in Becca and Jack and a quirky sister in Annie too! She even has a crush on the cool girl at school Charlotte.

All the theatre terminology and warm-ups were great to read because they brought back some fond memories, but unfortunately things started to go a little down-hill after the start.

One of the things that annoyed me about the plot was that it ended up being a little stereotypical. Good girl falls for cool girl, gets pushed into doing extra work for kudo points, falls out with best friend and everyone around her. A great example of this plot done perfectly has to be ‘The Paper and Hearts Society: Read with Pride‘. It was brilliant! This book, however, fell short.

It kept going from Alison to Annie and back, leaving me super confused who was talking each chapter. While I loved the focus of an LGBTQ+ relationship (*motions to all the books I love*), it just felt flat.

There were moments where I was left looking for more explanation. Everyone gets super annoyed at her for everything (setting up her friends on a date) and the bully who is sexist to girls but ends up having a reason. There’s even a point towards the end of the book where Alison and her girlfriend break up because she’s not ‘out’ properly and wants to focus more on her school work.

First thought in my head: Erm…what? No.

It had some promising moments such as the anxiety attack she has in the canteen. I thought that more would be written about this but nope. It came and went. There was even a ‘theatre mafia’ threatening her not to ask local businesses for funding because it was ‘their patch’. That also came and went with no conclusion. I don’t know whether the author forgot about it but not sure.

I’d been so excited for a F/F romance! Alison was gay and Charlotte was pansexual. There was also a side character called Zach who was gay too! This too fell through. We had Charlotte whose dad was not accepting of her sexuality (we never went into depth about this), Zach ended up secretly being in a relationship with Ben (the sexist guy) and everything was just left unfinished.

By the end I was just frustrated. I really wanted to love this book but I’m sad that it didn’t work out.

What book did you have high hopes for and ended up disappointed with?

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  • Reply
    Alice Myles
    9th August 2020 at 11:34 pm

    I felt exactly the same about this book!!!! I love Shakespeare and I loved theatre in school so it really appealed to me but I just didn’t vive with it at all once I started reading it

    • Reply
      11th August 2020 at 5:23 pm

      Phew!! I was really worried that I was just being picky! People on Goodreads seem to feel the same too! I feel bad for the author.

      • Reply
        Reads and Rambles
        12th August 2020 at 4:51 pm

        I like the idea and setting of this book. The theatre stuff etc but just from the title I can imagine it being stereotypical. From what you’ve said i think I’d find this book really irritating 😂😂

  • Reply
    That Happy Reader
    11th August 2020 at 5:09 pm

    I’m sorry this didn’t live up to your expectations. Hopefully your next read will be better!

    • Reply
      11th August 2020 at 5:21 pm

      That’s okay! Not every book is going to be great and you’re right…the next book should be better! x

  • Reply
    11th August 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Great review! O love the premise behind the story and it sounds like a real page turner.

  • Reply
    11th August 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Such a shame it was such a stereotypical book! I hate books that are predictable. x

  • Reply
    The Book View
    11th August 2020 at 5:40 pm

    I’ve been seeing this book everywhere, but I haven’t read it myself. It was good to read your thoughts on this one. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    11th August 2020 at 7:34 pm

    I was a theatre kid too so was also attracted to this title. I love the LGBTQ+ representation but am sorry it all fell flat for you.

    • Reply
      17th August 2020 at 3:58 pm

      It’s so annoying for us theatre kids, right?! There are so few theatre-based YA books to love and include LGBTQ+ as well. Maybe one day someone will get it right.

  • Reply
    12th August 2020 at 6:13 am

    That is such a shame! Reading the synopsis I was thinking ‘wow yes I really want to read this!’ But it’s such a shame that there were a few things that let it down!
    Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    12th August 2020 at 1:28 pm

    It’s hard to invest so much in a book to have it turn out as this one did. 🙁

  • Reply
    13th August 2020 at 11:35 pm

    It’s a shame it was so stereotypical! 9/10 that ruins a book for me, it sounded like it could have had so much potential x


    • Reply
      17th August 2020 at 3:56 pm

      It really did have potential! That’s what made it so frustrating. Part of me is wondering if it’s a Wattpad novel since they seem to be super popular lately and getting published.

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