It’s dizzying, it’s messy, but it’s nonetheless compelling because it’s fun and inventive. Overall, the book will likely please the youngsters who read it ... People are going to be confused by this book, but they’re also going to like it, because Ellis and Jules are interesting people to follow, and their friends—Rosaline, Tybalt, Paris, and Frogs, Ellis’ AI, are, too. I felt great sympathy for the complicated monster that was Jules’ mother as well. The complicated romantic entanglements going on here are also fascinating ... older teens and young adults will likely take quiet a shine to Jules, Ellis, and their twisty tale.
That action is fairly engaging; Waking Romeo is very page-turning YA fiction, even though it shares with most YA what appears to be a requisite for the whole genre, namely large chunks of ghastly prose ... Waking Romeo can’t quite overcome its many flaws; apart from a few quirks of vocabulary and shoehorned diversity, all its characters are essentially the same, the small amount of actual action is vaguely described, the worldbuilding is nonexistent (you have to work extra hard to avoid logic flaws in a time travel story, and Barker doesn’t work at all), the villains are completely unconvincing, and the emotional connections between characters feel entirely stage-directed. There’s undeniable narrative energy here, but you can get that and much more in Shakespeare’s play, if you’re getting all technical.
This fast-paced, brilliantly futuristic Romeo and Juliet variation splits and swirls timelines, ecological collapse, and hope into a virtuoso five-act telling ... Packed with Shakespearean references both playful and somber, Barker’s...eye for beauty, and perspectives on suicide and tragedy’s impacts never feel forced. This breathtaking, meticulously plotted adventure revitalizes a classic into a vital call to hope for the pandemic generation.