Author: Chloe Gong
Plot and Themes: 5/5
Cheers Factor: 5/5
Pairing: Mary Pickford
This is a fun drink that comes from the 1920’s which is when our R&J retelling takes place.
-2oz gold rum (Bacardi)
-1 ½ oz pineapple juice
-⅙ oz maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
-⅙ oz grenadine syrup
-Combine all ingredients in a shaker
-Shake and strain into a glass
“Memories were beastly little creatures, after all - they rose with the faintest whiff of nourishment.”
Take a Shot: We all know Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette, but we’ve never known them to be from warring gangs in 1920’s Shanghai where a suspicious monster is spreading madness that makes those infected rip out their own throats is killing gangsters and common folks alike. When Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai have to work together to extinguish the madness that threatens their very lives and way of life, memories of their past love resurface and become increasingly hard to ignore.
“Roma Montagov had not changed. The Roma who had loved her. The Roma who had betrayed her.”
I get mad Crazy Rich Asians vibes from this book with the opulence displayed by our lovely little gangsters. It’s seductive and fun and downright exciting. Juliette is a dangerous little thing with a penchant for violence and weapons whereas Roma is the opposite, but will do whatever it takes to protect those he loves. Together they make a perfect duo for the most perfect tragic love story ever written. I have to say I’m incredibly attached to all the characters in this novel and will be absolutely heartbroken if the author chooses to end the second one in the way that Shakespeare ended his novel. Admittedly it would be a slight cop out to not end it that way, but they are adorable characters and deserve happiness. Plus she did keep Marshall alive so maybe?
However, despite my love of the characters and their incredible diversity (hello LGBTQ representation) the setting is truly what takes this book a step above the rest. The level of intricacy involved in the setting of this novel really allowed me to feel as though I was in 1920’s Shanghai and I have never even been to modern day Shanghai. Additionally, the cultural conscientiousness was very well done in my opinion and in a way that adds a great respect to Asian culture and the traditions celebrated by those with ties to the culture. Truthfully I have no other words to describe it other than it was amazing and only those who have read the novel will entirely understand what I mean.
In terms of the plot I admittedly haven’t read Romeo and Juliet in a hot minute, like the beginning of high school for a long time, so I don’t entirely remember every plot point to say one event directly mirrors that of its origin story. However, I loved the introduction of a previous love affair to start off our story as enemies. I’m a sucker for enemies to lovers stories after all. It added a deeper level to their respective stories and made all their interactions fueled with so much more tension than I feel is in the original. I also loved the interactions Juliette has with Benedikt and Marshall because I feel she genuinely likes them even though they are supposed to be enemies. I also love how the plot is written to where Juliette believes for the majority of the novel that Roma is her villain in her narrative and then it is discovered that although he may have done something horrible he truthfully saved Juliette’s life. The same goes when in the conclusion of the novel we see Juliette become the villain in Roma’s story as she admits that she sold out his mother’s safe house leading to hear murder and then shoots and “kills” Marshall. It’s almost more poetic than the original story although I know the next installment will likely follow the origin story more closely. It’s poignant that they will continue to see the other as the villain in each other's stories and it’s so reflective of the death of love that happens in everyday relationships.
To be honest I can’t speak highly enough about this book and I’m also incredibly impressed by Gong’s writing being that she is literally my age. I cannot wait to read more of her work and get to see what she continues to come up with in the future because I know she’s just getting started.
“He does realize, a little voice whispered. He stays for you. He will not walk away from you. Not a second time. He would rather die.”
Each book here at Cheers&Chapters is rated based off of certain categories that are genre specific, however every book will get a Cheers Factor. The Cheers Factor is how much we wanted to raise our glass while reading it. So get your glasses ready and cheers!