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Book Review: Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

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Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes is a young adult adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The reader is pulled into the story with a successful hook in the prologue, then taken through an exciting adventure consisting of a nearly empty mall, bad winter weather, and a dangerous mystery.

Miranda, the protagonist, adopts a false sense of confidence that begins to fray when she is faced with her high school tormentors. After being prosecuted as the brains behind a brilliant, but illegal operation, Miranda is left ostracized in a school she once ruled. As a result, she wears a facade of coolness that slowly evaporates as the novel progresses.

One of the wonderful aspects of Tempestuous is how the story evolves from a quirky late night mall adventure, to a journey of redemption and acceptance. Miranda proves to be an impressive character as she navigates the consequences of her actions.

The characters in Tempestuous are relatable and the reader can easily become attached to them, thanks to the comedy and coming-of-age tone that the authors provide. Miranda, though at times pretentious, is a reliable character that takes the reader through the rough terrain that is high school.

Though she is a strong character with the unique gift of being able to help nearly anyone in need, Miranda is also very cunning. The reader is led in various directions thanks to Miranda’s sly planning, before s/he is finally taken to a surprising conclusion.

The dialogue is amusing, if at times a bit mature for the characters. Rather than teenagers, some of the characters sound like slightly pretentiousness adults, making them less realistic.

What makes Tempestuous such a great book, however, is that the reader does not need to have prior knowledge of the original Shakespearean play. Askew and Helmes have created a successful adaptation because of how easily the modern plot merges with the classic play.

Another way that Tempestuous successfully combines the old with the new, is through the chapter titles, which are lines taken from The Tempest. By integrating aspects of the original play into their book, Askew and Helmes are reminding their readers of the origins of the novel.

Readers who enjoy young adult adaptations of Shakespearean plays should read Tempestuous, simply because it is fun and light. Askew and Helmes take a classic comedy and successfully translate it to a younger and more modern audience.

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