Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review: When You Were Mine

Title: When You Were Mine
Author: Rebecca Serle
Genre: YA Contemporary

See it at Goodreads

In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy… and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…

Once there was a girl before Juliet. Not many people know this. Her name was Rosaline. She was the niece of a Capulet and though a silent character, she was an important one. She is the beginning that sparks the now infamous couple of history: Romeo and Juliet. If it weren’t for Rosaline, our beloved Romeo would not have attended the Capulet party and met Juliet.

Before I start my review of When You Were Mine, I’d like to get a few small points out of the way. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo had clear visions of love from the beginning. He was intelligent and witty. He read love poetry and had visions of what it should be like. Rosaline was said to be immature and juvenile--not accepting of his affections. After the sight of Juliet, however, Rosaline slips immediately from his mind. Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is far deeper and more passionate, authentic, than the puppy love Romeo felt for Rosaline in the beginning. Rosaline took a vow of chastity before this--Romeo was trying to win her heart and make her break the vow, hoping to change her mind. So no, Juliet, nor Romeo, were in the wrong in my opinion when they met later.

On to my review:

If I review When You Were Mine based on a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet in the POV of Rosaline, I would say that I didn’t like it. The problems I found were inconsistent with my favorite work. Rosaline was expected to be too sympathized with. I’m not supposed to sympathize with her. And I’m certainly not supposed to hate Juliet or Romeo (in this case “Rob”). I couldn’t like the modern characters. I was expecting more from this. Maybe it’s because last year, I read a retelling that was fantastic, and it’s hard for me to like much after that.

What I probably disliked most was the take-away of the feud between the Montagues and Capulets--in the case of this book, it’s the Montegs and Caplets. Here, the families are best friends. And the intense feud lies right within the Caplet family. This just irked me from the start. It’s a modern retelling sure, but I was hoping for most of the elements to be visible.

I was not a fan at all of the messages in this book and how much hate there was toward Juliet.

BUT: To read it solely on its own, as its own Contemporary Romance? I can say that I liked it average. It wasn’t memorable. From this point, I can like the characters a little better. Most particularly Len. As well as the sometimes witty narration. When I judge it on its own, I do sympathize with Rosaline then. But I still question the Juliet and Rob relationship. I felt it was too BAM. Ya know? Then it brings me back to the whole Oh yeah, it’s a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet thing. And I’m sad all over again at how disappointed I felt when I had such high expectations. The author obviously tried to make it unique in some areas, but I think it failed in my opinion and muddled up the elements I loved in the original. Just my thoughts. Who was Mercutio? Who was Benvolio? Who was Tybalt? I would have loved to see a development somewhere that showed glimpses of these possible characters, but I didn’t see them. Even if they were there, I didn’t see them.

Often times, I felt the story either dragged in places, or rushed too much in others. Then there were places that I found to be beautiful. The romantic scenes in the beginning with Rob and Rosaline, and the scenes with Len and Rosaline, were done so well. I only wished I’d seen more development throughout the entire novel of more of these kind of scenes. I might have held on longer. The ending was tragic--of course, it was to be expected--but I didn’t find myself attached enough to care. There was a lot of hate in this book that I just didn’t find justifiable in some instances. Actually, I found it rather cruel at times.

It wasn’t awful. But it was a miss for me unfortunately.

Now I will go read my real Romeo and Juliet copy, thanks.



  1. As a R&J purist, I had a feeling I was going to hate this one. Nothing will ever beat the original, and frankly, I think any retelling of Shakespeare is a bad fucking idea. Glad I gave this one a miss. Although I wish you had liked it more.

    1. Yeah, you'd definitely hate it. I could totally envision the words that would come out of your mouth as I was reading it myself. LOL. I wish I had liked it more myself too. I did like it on some points, that's why I gave it 3 stars...but there was a lot I just couldn't. I definitely wouldn't recommend it to Shakespeare fans though.
      There was one I read last year that I really enjoyed. It wasn't exactly a retelling but either way, it was good to me. I think after reading that one, I have a hard time enjoying any others that have attempted to use the characters/story.
      (link if you're interested in having a look)



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