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    15 Books Inspired By Shakespeare You'll Want To Read If You Love The Bard

    How to reimagine the Bard's work in YA? Let me count the ways...

    1. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

    Penguin Books,

    Release date: March 15, 2016

    What it's about: Johnston may be best known for sci-fi and fantasy, but this take on The Winter's Tale is one of contemporary YA's finest novels on sexual assault and reproductive rights. It stars a cheerleader named Hermione Winter, who's living a marvelous life until she gets drugged and raped at cheer camp. Now she has to decide how to move forward without giving a minute more of her life to the person who's already taken too much. Together with good friends (including her wonderful BFF Polly, who has her own unexpected life event going on, much to Hermione's surprise), Hermione is determined to make it through on her own terms.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    2. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

    Simon & Schuster / Via, Jon Studio / Via

    Release date: Nov. 17, 2020

    What it's about: Romeo and Juliet meets 1920s Shanghai in this bestselling debut centering on a gang feud between the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Heir to the former is Juliette Cai, and to the latter, Roma Montagov. The first loves turned enemies must now work together to fight a monster that brings doom upon the city. Full of politics, blood, romance, and betrayal, this nuanced take on the classic tragedy is not to be missed. (Take note: Sequel Our Violent Ends debuts Nov. 16.)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    3. If I'm Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

    Penguin Teen, Sue Grubman / Via

    Release date: April 23, 2019

    What it's about: After debuting with the delightful and hilarious Always Never Yours, inspired by Romeo and Juliet (and specifically Rosaline), this powerhouse rom-com duo moved on to The Taming of the Shrew for their second novel, putting Cameron Bright in the spotlight as their Kate. When Cameron's crush, Andrew, catches her being...shrewish, Cameron decides to take it upon herself to pull a taming of her own behavior to show him she's a far better person than he thinks. Step one? Make amends with Brendan, whose social life she completely destroyed with a brutal nickname. But soon, Cameron finds that she's not just making nice for Andrew's sake, and maybe shouldn't be rushing to change herself anyway. Maybe there's someone who likes her exactly as she is. (For more Wibbroka Shakespeare love, check out their rom-com take on The Tempest in That Way Madness Lies.)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    4. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

    Square Fish, Jing Nie / Via

    Release date: Dec. 5, 2017

    What it's about: Claudia didn't mean to overhear Iris's breakup with Paige, but that won't stop her prickly classmate from hating her guts over it. Which makes the fact that they're both being forced to audition for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream even harder. But the more time Iris and Claudia spend together, the more the wildly unexpected friendship between them grows. In fact, there are a lot of unexpected relationships coming Claudia's way lately, including one with that absolutely adorable and ridiculous Gideon. If you were utterly charmed by the humor, antics, and heart of the original, put this at the top of your to-read list. For an author who unfailingly crushes it at friend group–centric romance novels, this might be Mills's best. (And for another YA rom-com influenced by the same tale, check out new f/f debut I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre!)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    5. Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin

    Wednesday Books,

    Release date: Feb. 18, 2020

    What it's about: Jade and her friends are more than happy to get their hands bloody in this satisfying revenge story born of Macbeth. After being assaulted at a party, she enrolls at St. Andrews Prep — the ritzy school where her attackers rule the halls with golden fists — determined to bring them down one by one. And so she does, with every bit the cleverness and mercilessness of Lady Macbeth herself. (Note: The paperback version will be released Oct. 12 under a new title, Golden Boys Beware.)

    Get it from Bookshop or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    6. Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis

    Inkyard Press,

    Release date: Jan. 5, 2021

    What it's about: When a racially diverse retelling of Romeo and Juliet hits Broadway, everyone wants a piece, especially Jerzie Jhames, and she's devastated to land the role of understudy rather than the lead. But being backup has its perks, like getting to spend time around male lead Zeppelin Reid. But it turns out that the role of Juliet isn't the only thing both Jerzie and superstar Cinny wanted, and when a video of Jerzie and Zepp rehearsing hits the airwaves, it'll turn the entire production, and Jerzie's life, upside down.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    7. The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

    Harry N. Abrams, Aedan Studio Photography. / Via

    Release date: March 8, 2016

    What it's about: Set in Prohibition-era Oregon, this Hamlet-inspired thriller stars Hanalee, a girl with a white mother and Black father whose world is rocked when the teenage boy who supposedly killed her father tells her the actual murderer is the doctor who tended to him. Now Hanalee is determined to find the truth, and there's only one being who can tell her that: the spirit of her father.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    8. Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

    Greenwillow Books,

    Release date: Sept. 19, 2017

    What it's about: This clever historical retelling of Much Ado About Nothing places its characters on Long Island in the 1920s, where newly arrived Beatrice joins her cousin Hero in running a speakeasy out of his basement. Together with a wild group of friends, they throw the party to end all parties in an effort to save the struggling club, making for a summer of utterly fun and romantic magic. For a similarly hilarious, supremely nerdy, contemporary take on the same play, check out The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson, who also covered As You Like It for That Way Madness Lies.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    9. Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan

    .P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers,

    Release date: April 21, 2020

    What it's about: As you may have guessed from the title, this poignant mental health–centric contemporary is another angle on Romeo and Juliet, this one set in the world of comics. Jubilee's moms own an indie shop, a veritable David against the Goliath that is the chain of comic book stores owned by Ridley's family. When the two have a meet-cute at comic-con prom, it's unquestionable that disaster will follow, especially with Ridley's anxiety issues and Jubilee's upcoming life-changing audition.

    Get it from Bookshop or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    10. The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers,

    Release date: Oct. 1, 2019

    What it's about: Twelfth Night goes coastal with this utterly stunning contemporary about a girl named Violet who moves to Lyric, Maine, after her brother attempts suicide. Lyric isn't just any town to Violet; it was founded by her great-great-great-grandmother, who was the sole survivor of a shipwreck there. Now Violet is on a quest to find the ship itself, and she's found the perfect partners for her search in the tempting and mysterious Liv and her friends. But is Violet searching for something that can't truly be found, or is the answer to healing her heart genuinely to be found in the nearest wreck?

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    11. As I Descended by Robin Talley


    Release date: Sept. 6, 2016

    What it's about: Ambition turns appropriately deadly in this chilling paranormal about a couple who'll do anything to get ahead together, no matter who has to pay. And in this case, it's Delilah Dufrey who's going down, if that's what it takes to keep Maria and Lily together. It's the only way to guarantee that Maria will win the scholarship she needs to head to Stanford with Lily, and they know just what powers to harness to do it. Only, things don't quite go as planned for Maria and Lily, and death and destruction are left in their wake.

    Get it from Bookshop or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    12. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

    Wednesday, Christina Grout / Via

    Release date: Sept. 15, 2015

    What it's about: Magical realism master McLemore has reimagined a number of works in their critically acclaimed career, but it all kicked off with this lyrical, evocative, Morris Award–nominated and Romeo and Juliet–inspired romance about descendants of feuding families who fall in love against the backdrop of a traveling exhibition. Lace Paloma and Cluck Corbeau know that there's danger to be found in each other's arms; they just don't know why. But when he saves her life during a disaster at the show, they both know that there's more to the story than they've been told, and disobeying the number one rule they've always lived by just might be worth it, even if it means turning their backs on their families forever. (You can also find McLemore in That Way Madness Lies, covering A Midsummer Night's Dream.)

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    13. Nothing Happened by Molly Booth

    Simon & Schuster,

    Release date: May 15, 2018

    What it's about: Summer camp makes the perfect setting for Much Ado About Nothing–inspired high jinks, as evidenced by Bee and Hana's newest summer at Camp Dogberry. As daughters of the camp's owners, the girls think of the place as a second home. But this year, some serious drama rife with miscommunication and misunderstandings has taken over, threatening both Hana's budding romance with Claudia and Bee's complicated relationship with Ben.

    For another of Booth's dips into the Bard's work, check out Saving Hamlet.

    Get it from Bookshop or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    14. The Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm

    Sky Pony, Braden Nesin / Via

    Release date: April 12, 2016

    What it's about: Cass knows that everyone thinks she sucks as a human, but she doesn't care. All that means is, she's the perfect fit to play the role of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew. But when her bunkmate Amy falls for Drew, the noxious boy playing the lead, Cass decides that he's the one who needs taming. But what happens if it works and Drew becomes a dream guy after all?

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or your local bookstore via Indiebound here.

    15. The Tragedy of Dane Riley by Kat Spears

    Wednesday Books, Kimberly Frost Photography / Via

    Release date: June 22, 2021

    What it's about: This Hamlet-inspired (Dane!) contemporary stars a boy struggling with his grief over his father's death, especially since he hates the man who's taken his place at home. There's no respite to be found in his other relationships, either, since his stepbrother is a nightmare, the girl next door is daunting, and even his own brain can't be trusted. How do you move on when nothing seems worth fighting for?

    To catch another contemporary glimpse of Hamlet (located in a heist thriller with a team of drag queens), check out Caleb Roehrig's Death Prefers Blondes.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or a local bookstore through Indiebound here.

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