Books are capable of transporting readers to other worlds in more than the metaphorical sense in this entry in the new Fakespeare series from Castle.
Black protagonist Becca and her white stepbrother, Sam, find themselves trapped in Verona after a mysterious copy of Romeo and Juliet eats them. In order to escape they must unite a sullen Romeo with a puckish Juliet, all while avoiding a homicidal Tybalt, dealing with Mercutio’s pet-dander allergy, and enduring a flatulent dog that’s just along for the ride. This adaptation of Shakespeare leans heavily on the “fake” portion of its title, offering little of the flavor of its supposed inspiration. Abundant scatological references and tomato fights provide paltry attempts at humor in a plot that bears little resemblance to the original apart from the character names; such embellishments as basing the Montague/Capulet feud in an argument over which family makes the better pizza seem pointless. It’s mystifying, given the humor style and audience, why the author did not select A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, or another of Shakespeare’s comedies to adapt rather than awkwardly ramming a juvenile sense of humor into an iconic tragedy. The co-published Something Stinks in Hamlet is a similarly baffling effort.
While the concept of introducing children to Shakespeare is one with a long history, this volume’s plot, language, and setting are so far removed from the source material that it utterly fails in that aim. (Fantasy. 8-12)