Waking Romeo (Kathryn Barker, A&U)
Waking Romeo is a stunning reimagining of the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet—meets Wuthering Heights, meets epic time-travelling extravaganza. The main story revolves around Juliet and a group of teens from across time, led by Heathcliff, who are rescued from the brink of death and who come together as humanity’s last hope. In this story Romeo and Juliet are not star-crossed lovers from the middle ages but instead exist in a bleak future that is dependent on their love story having a not-so-tragic end, with Romeo waking from his sleep-like death. Kathryn Barker easily pulls off the multiple timelines of the narrative, making the story easy to follow while diverging enough to stay thrilling. She builds a rich world far removed from the present, yet still so imaginable, and her re-writing of the classic, beloved characters of Romeo, Juliet and Heathcliff is brilliantly done. While keeping the characters recognisable and familiar, Barker also adds layers of depth to their teenage mindsets. These layers make sense and seamlessly work with the overall plot to save Romeo. Making Juliet a writer really adds to the idea of her taking control of her own story, a theme that runs throughout the novel. Waking Romeo is highly recommended for fans of science fiction and timeless love stories. Readers who enjoyed A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray and A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee will enjoy this book.
Tracy-Kate Simambo is a poet and former Djed Press mentee.