A little while ago I finished this book that I got a little over a month ago. I had a post about it; it’s a “chooseable-path adventure” version of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare by Ryan North, a sequel to the same thing but with Hamlet called To Be or Not To Be. I don’t do reviews all that often but maybe I should start. Maybe the best way to make myself better at reviews is to do more of them?? Just note that this will largely be in view of someone who read the first book, To Be or Not To Be, which I also recommend.
First thing’s first, this book actually solved a major issue I had with To Be or Not To Be, which was that in that book you had the path that followed the original play Hamlet, and it felt largely like the other paths were just sprouting off this main one. There were a few places where a totally new storyline would sprout, but for the most part you had to read through a lot of one path to find a number of endings. With this book the paths that deviate from the original early on feel more like their own stories, and there are numerous locations where you can veer off but then return to the original story, so if you want to read to the end of the normal story more than once you have option so you don’t reread a lot of things.
Another area this book improves on the first is simply how it’s designed. The first gave every choice at least its own page, which led to a lot of empty space. This one divides the choices into sections, so most of every page is utilized. There was only one spot where this was problematic, as one section had two choices listed but the second choice was on the second page, so it could be easily missed. Also: I know nobody actually cares about the design. I’ll move on.
This book has not one but two story-within-a-stories (not counting the Romeo and/or Juliet-within-a-Romeo and/or Juliet), and one is about drugs and amazing and has an adorable Puck (thanks to one Andrew Hussie). A few other outlandish things from To Be or Not To Be return as well, such as ghost time travel, but I actually felt the returning outlandish things weren’t utilized as interestingly as in the first book.
But this book does have new outlandish things that are amazing, such as controlling more than one character at once or unlockable characters. Yes, you can unlock a character by completing a certain path. It’s pretty obvious which path it is, though. Maybe next book Ryan can fit an unlockable character into an unexpected path. Come on, let us choose a story using one of those robot suits!
Ultimately this story is hilarious, and that’s the point. Whether it’s the witty or silly characters (definitely the best-written Friar Lawrence ever), the Shakespearean prose reduced to plain English/bullet points/power point slides, or just the ridiculous narration (find out how he gets out of writing a sex scene!!), every path has something to laugh at. In the end I would have to say this book is an improvement on the first, and book scientists that I totally didn’t pay off thought that was impossible!