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?