Review of Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North

A little while ago I finished this book that I got a little over a month ago. I had a post about it; it’s a “chooseable-path adventure” version of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare by Ryan North, a sequel to the same thing but with Hamlet called To Be or Not To Be. I don’t do reviews all that often but maybe I should start. Maybe the best way to make myself better at reviews is to do more of them?? Just note that this will largely be in view of someone who read the first book, To Be or Not To Be, which I also recommend.

First thing’s first, this book actually solved a major issue I had with To Be or Not To Be, which was that in that book you had the path that followed the original play Hamlet, and it felt largely like the other paths were just sprouting off this main one. There were a few places where a totally new storyline would sprout, but for the most part you had to read through a lot of one path to find a number of endings. With this book the paths that deviate from the original early on feel more like their own stories, and there are numerous locations where you can veer off but then return to the original story, so if you want to read to the end of the normal story more than once you have option so you don’t reread a lot of things.

Another area this book improves on the first is simply how it’s designed. The first gave every choice at least its own page, which led to a lot of empty space. This one divides the choices into sections, so most of every page is utilized. There was only one spot where this was problematic, as one section had two choices listed but the second choice was on the second page, so it could be easily missed. Also: I know nobody actually cares about the design. I’ll move on.

This book has not one but two story-within-a-stories (not counting the Romeo and/or Juliet-within-a-Romeo and/or Juliet), and one is about drugs and amazing and has an adorable Puck (thanks to one Andrew Hussie). A few other outlandish things from To Be or Not To Be return as well, such as ghost time travel, but I actually felt the returning outlandish things weren’t utilized as interestingly as in the first book.

But this book does have new outlandish things that are amazing, such as controlling more than one character at once or unlockable characters. Yes, you can unlock a character by completing a certain path. It’s pretty obvious which path it is, though. Maybe next book Ryan can fit an unlockable character into an unexpected path. Come on, let us choose a story using one of those robot suits!

Ultimately this story is hilarious, and that’s the point. Whether it’s the witty or silly characters (definitely the best-written Friar Lawrence ever), the Shakespearean prose reduced to plain English/bullet points/power point slides, or just the ridiculous narration (find out how he gets out of writing a sex scene!!), every path has something to laugh at. In the end I would have to say this book is an improvement on the first, and book scientists that I totally didn’t pay off thought that was impossible!

To Be or Not To Be: That Is still a book by Ryan North

Okay, before I go through my impressions of TBONTB, which I’m just gonna call To Be because I always be, I want to mention how it’s kind of difficult to read a lot at once, largely because going through it multiple times inevitably leads to rereading portions, which leads to skipping already-read stuff. Which leads to flipping through pages to get to new stuff. I could use bookmarks but pfft, whatever. Thus I’m planning to just go through 2 or 3 times a day. So, hey, it should last some time for me!

Anyway, of COURSE I started by reading acknowledgements. What’s wrong with reading about cool people first?? After that, it was time to BE RYAN NORTH YEEAH

AND THEN IT WAS TIME TO BE RYAN NORTH BEING HALMET YEEAH

AND THEN I WAS HAMLET SR. AND died. then ghost died. I’m terrible at being Hamlet Sr.

Later, I decided to try making the Conservative options. Or, as the book put them, the stupid options. It’s, um. This part oddly enough worked as a pretty good metaphor for a lot of male US politicians making rulings on women’s health issues. That’s right, Shakespeare is relevant to the politics of today, especially when it’s in a chooseable-path adventure format!

Anyway, I really like the nonstandard writing techniques, which is something I’m interested in for my own writing! I mean, chopping up the story and throwing it everywhere and doing this with a bunch of versions with the story to make a story salad is as nonstandard as it can get, but even the little things like repeating a letter to signify it’s being extended: “Yayyyy.” THE AUTHOR IS NOT AFRAID TO DO THINGS THAT WOULD BE IMPROPER FOR MOST BOOKS AND WHATNOT

Adding to that, author participation (it may be a deus ex machina, but it was SHAKESPEARE’S FAULT) and narration that really gets off-track. It’s like, even at points the narrator admits that he is totally getting off-track. Basically, this is the best possible way to write this type of book: the narrator actively chastising you for making awful decisions. “You know what? No. Just no.” And at one point you can actually attempt to lie to the book.

All in all, amazing book, still a lot for me to read through, can’t wait for the sequel, this should become a new common type of book. It’s quite a feat, of course, even without the illustrated endings, but so what?? It’s amazing. I’m even considering what I would do if I wrote one.

That’s about it , I think. Just wanted to make a follow-up post after I’ve read some of the book. Most of this post was written as I was reading it, just jotting down thoughts, and then organized in a way that’s not just a smattering of thoughts like I usually do.

To Be or Not To Be: That Is a book I just got in the mail, wooo

(Note: Comments are disabled on this post due to giant influx of spam comments. S…Seriously, who does this sort of stuff, and why aren’t they hired to make things better?)

IT’S THIS THING, THIS IS THE THING THIS POST IS ABOUT

Oh hi. I got a book in the mail today! It is To Be Or Not To Be: That Is probably the title of the book, I’m not sure, “that is the adventure” is sometimes added to the end of it, and I’m also not sure how the  capitalization should go, the front cover says To Be OR Not To Be and also To Be and Not To Be area in arrows. How do I make that part clear in writing the title?

So anyway this is a version of Hamlet that is a choose-your-own-pathventure type-dealy. If you haven’t heard of it, Ryan North did a Kickstarter for it some months back and it was funded. It was super-funded! It was ultra-funded! It was nuclear-funded! And I funded something like .0034429etc.% of it, so I got a copy. A signed copy! Hey, wait. This signature says Mr Serpent. … I am okay with this.

Okay so somewhere in there I was supposed to say “just read about it at that kickstarter page and there might’ve been a site for it too to learn all about it if you haven’t heard of it” so I’m saying that there.

If you haven’t heard of Ryan North, I’m surprised considering you’re here. Not because I mention him a lot, but because why would you know who I am but not Ryan North?? He’s like an internet celebrity. I have ten years to get to that status.

Side note: The front cover of TBONTB makes it look like Ophelia is holding a servered arm. That arm looks so served, it’d be severed if it wasn’t actually a test tube. What was I going to say next? Oh yeah.

So basically I’m gonna read the book, go on random paths, and post about it here! OKAY LET’S DO THIS *flips to a random page in the book and reads*

“She steps away from Claudius. ‘What’s going on, Hamlet?'”

… Yeah, I don’t know, either. I think I’m doing this wrong. I’ll figure it out and talk more about it later.

In novel news, I finished the second draft of my next novel last weekend. In a few weeks or less I’ll get to work on draft 3. I am on schedule to have this book done by April! Wait did I just beholden me to that date? Did I just use the proper form of beholden there!? DID I JUST USE THE PROPER PRONOUN!?

In “wait what I have a life outside of internets and writing” news, I started training for a job this week. Sort of. I’m training to get a license so I can have this job, which is actually a temp job as I am technically the employee of an employment agency. I will be in a call center, apparently selling health insurance to old people?? I am not totally sure but I may be in a couple weeks, assuming I can actually pass the test for this license thingy first. Basically, money, but work, so I will be busier. Not that I was exactly buzzing with activity around here ever.