Overall I felt as though Caine did a decent job in replicating the language and feeling of a Shakespearean tale. However, as I am not a fan of Shakespeare as a whole this was more of a detriment to the book than a positive for me. The entire premise of Romeo and Juliet is absurd, instalove leading to deaths etc. I also find the whole Capulet vs. Montague scenario painful to read about as it is absolutely ridiculous that two families cause such bloodbaths on the streets seemingly daily and 1) no one does anything about it and 2) the families haven't run out of members yet (wishful thinking?).
While the Romeo and Juliet drama does occur in this novel, Romeo is rightfully portrayed as an idiotic teenager. Benvolio, the mature cousin, is the main character of the novel and apparently the one that is supposed to control Romeo and his idiocy. However, Benvolio, despite being the Prince of Shadows and having an interest in Rosaline, is a rather dull character. The only interesting parts of the novel involve Benvolio actually having a conversation with other characters, especially Rosaline. Unfortunately Rosaline, despite what the cover would suggest, is hardly in the novel at all. This is certainly not much of a love story for Benvolio and Rosaline, so don't expect that going in.
Another character I had difficulty getting on board with in this novel and in Shakespeare was Mercutio. Overall he is just too verbose and dramatic for my liking, despite his situation being sympathetic. Half the time he was in the scenes I was wishing for him to shut up.
Overall I was honestly bored and could not come to care about any of the characters. I wish Benvolio had been a stronger character but unfortunately he simply came across as dull to me. I still cannot stand Romeo or Mercutio or the style of Shakespeare's writing. While this book was not for me I did appreciate Caine's ability to harness the characters and the language fairly well.