Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: they hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.
But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.
First Sentence: Glancing out my window, I hold up my finger and thumb, creating a little frame around Ryder Marsden, who stands outside on the lawn below.
At first, I wasn’t interested in reading Magnolia at all. In fact, I didn’t even know Magnolia existed – until all the positive “I adored this book!” reviews came pouring in. I was skeptical at first, even though I saw that Magnolia was a Romeo and Juliet retelling and I just have to get my hands on every single retelling in the world. The cover of Magnolia just didn’t do anything for me and the premise of Magnolia didn’t really catch my attention, but because of all the glowing reviews Magnolia had, I decided to give it a chance.
“Good!” I shout, tears burning behind my eyelids. “Go. I hate you, Ryder Marsden!”
“Yeah, well…the feeling’s mutual,” he throws back over one shoulder. (28)
The first couple of pages, specifically the first chapter of Magnolia, took me some time to get used to. In a word, the first couple of pages of Magnolia was awkward. I had to get used to Kristi Cook’s writing and Jemma’s world, including reading through some info-dump about Jemma’s life. However, after reading the first couples of pages and getting pass the info-dump, everything went smoothly.
Despite the fact that Magnolia is a Romeo and Juliet retelling, I didn’t really feel like it really was one. Don’t get me wrong, there were events that happened in Magnolia that had also happened in Romeo and Juliet, but it just didn’t click, if that makes any sense. I didn’t get that sense that Magnolia was truly a Romeo and Juliet retelling, even after I finished reading the book. I felt like the only real Romeo and Juliet retelling elements in Magnolia were the names used – Jemma being Juliet, Ryder being Romeo, Rosaline being Rosie, etc, despite some parallel events that happened between the two books/stories.
For a fleeting moment, Ryder was my friend. Maybe more. And now? He’s not.
When did my life turn into a tragedy? (236)
I did like how the romance between Jemma and Ryder was developed, including the twist Kristi Cook incorporated into their romance. Jemma and Ryder’s relationship definitely isn’t the insta-love type of romance like how Romeo and Juliet was – Jemma and Ryder’s relationship actually took time to develop. I enjoyed seeing how Jemma and Ryder slowly overcame their past and started to trust one another. I also liked how the book left their relationship – it was 100% cute and made me chuckle a bit. The best thing of all is that unlike Romeo and Juliet, Jemma and Ryder’s relationship never ended in a tragedy.
Overall, Magnolia was a cute fun read despite it’s awkward beginning, but it’s not one of my favorite retelling or my favorite Romeo and Juliet retelling by any means.