Book Reviews

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen–Book Review and Shakespeare Counterparts

Hello and welcome to my first ever blog tour! A big thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours for choosing me to participate in this tour! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!

Today I bring you my review of The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen, as well as a feature where I match the main characters of this book to their Shakespeare counterparts! 

Without ~Much Ado~ a book review:

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen (Book Cover)

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen
Genre: Young Adult LGBTQ+ Contemporary
Publishing Date: September 22, 2020

Alison Green, desperate valedictorian-wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.

Pick up your copy at any of these retailers:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, Indigo


The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen brought me straight back to high school drama club in the best way! Limited budgets, trying to perfect the performance, disastrous dress rehearsals, relationship drama behind the scenes, and trying to balance school and extracurriculars. Alison is such a fun character to follow. She is very driven and focused, who goes above and beyond to make things perfect, which can get her in a bit of trouble at times. I loved her relationships with her parents and her sister, Annie. Her friendship with Becca was so supportive and sweet, and even though they fought some, you can tell that they love each other and cherish their relationship. Alison’s friendship with Jack is also really sweet and adorable. Charlotte is the cool girl with gauges and tattoos that Alison has a huge crush on. I love how natural their friendship starts even though Alison becomes a nervous bean around Charlotte. I’m not going to spoil what happens, but there is a good dose of high school drama that I was living for the whole time.

I loved seeing Alison bring together a rag-tag group of people to help her get the production of  A Midsummer Night’s Dream up to scratch before opening night. I brought me right back to when I directed a play in my senior year of high school. The stress, the excitement, the ~drama~ of it all before the reward of successfully completing the show is such a roller coaster of emotion. 

I give this a solid 3.5/5 stars, if you’re looking for a numerical rating! There was one very minor subplot that didn’t really end up going anywhere, which I think could have been explored a little bit more. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, relatively light contemporary LGBTQIA+ story and also anyone who was a previous Theatre kid. You won’t be disappointed!

~Shakespearean Counterparts~

So I had a fun idea to match the characters in The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life to their character counterparts in Shakespeare’s plays! Some were more difficult to pick than others so they may have more than one.

Alison seemed like a mix of Bianca (Taming of the Shrew), Desdemona (Othello), and Hermia (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). She was very difficult to pin down as she is smart, determined, goal-oriented, and organized, but tends to miss some social cues and gets way too stuck in her head at times.

Charlotte feels like a Paulina (The Winter’s Tale) to me. She is always willing to stand up for herself and others, shows a lot of loyalty, isn’t afraid to call someone out who needs it, and also just comes across as such a badass most of the time. 

Annie, who is Alison’s little sister, reminded me a lot of Mercutio (Romeo and Juliet). She is enthusiastic, a bit sarcastic, quick to change moods (mercurial, if you will), but also blunt.

Becca, Alison’s best friend, is a mix of Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) and Helena (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). She is sympathetic and sweet, but will always stand up for herself. She is also very supportive and is truly a great friend.

Jack is also best friends with Alison. He just screams Romeo (Romeo and Juliet) to me from story circumstances to his confident, charming, and optimistic nature. 

Ben is a kind of antagonist in a way, but he gives me Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing) vibes. A bit of a jokester, though a bit raunchy, has a certain swagger about him, and is a bit of a softy deep down.

Zach was a little more difficult to pinpoint, but I think Antonio (The Merchant of Venice) is a good fit for him. He’s generous and loyal, slightly snobby on first impression and can be very blunt at times.

Jenny is the resident “goth girl” and would probably be very upset if I didn’t say that she reminded me of Hamlet (Hamlet), though I also feel like she has a mix of Katherine (The Taming of the Shrew). She is a bit abrasive at times, stubborn, a bit of a diva. She is also smart and a bit ruthless in getting what she wants. Her dramatic personality is very Hamlet at times as well.

And, finally, Mr. Evans who I really just see as the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet. He is a bit bumbling and rambley at times, but really wants them to succeed. 

~Author Information~

Dani Jansen, author of The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life

Dani Jansen is a teacher and writer who lives in Montreal. She should probably be embarrassed to admit that she has performed as part of her school’s Glee Club for eight years. She should probably also be ashamed to tell people that she named her cats after punctuation symbols (Ampersand and Em-Dash, in case you’re curious)

Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and follow her on Goodreads!

 ~Giveaway (US/Canada)~

Two Finished Copies of The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life. The giveaway ends on September 15th!

Enter HERE!

Thank you so much TBR and Beyond Tours, Second Story Press, Dani Jansen, and NetGalley for the opportunity to review The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life!

Check out the rest of the blog and Instagram tour here. There are so many more cool posts to come!

6 thoughts on “The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen–Book Review and Shakespeare Counterparts

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