Book Review: Carmen by Walter Dean Myers

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Carmen by Walter Dean MyersCarmen by Walter Dean Myers
Also by this author: Monster, Kick, All the Right Stuff, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Juba!, Monster: A Graphic Novel
Published by Egmontusa on 2011
Genres: African American, Hispanic & Latino, Love & Romance, People & Places, United States, Young Adult
Pages: 122
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Into the summer heat of New York’s Spanish Harlem strides Carmen, achicawho is as hot as the sizzling city streets. When she first meets José, she falls for him hard. He’s not like the gansta types she knows—tipo duroswho are tough, who think they are players. But José has a quick temper, and he likes to get his own way. And nobody gets in Carmen’s way.  When Escamillo rolls into town, everyone takes notice of the Latino Jay-Z—a quadruple-threat singer/rapper/producer/businessman. But he only notices one person—Carmen. And Carmen has given up on José—he’s not going to get her out of her tough neighborhood,el barrio, and into the action. Escamillo will. But José won’t let that happen. Passion, love, and betrayal explode into tragedy in this modern retelling of an enduring love story.

You know how you read a really excellent adaptation of a story and that becomes the standard by which you set all of the other adaptations? Then you may get really disappointed when other versions don’t quite live up to your expectations.

Unfortunately, Carmen by Walter Dean Myers did not live up to my expectations. Myers’ version of Carmen is a play, with two acts and as I recall four scenes. We meet Carmen and her friends who are getting raided by the police in Harlem. We see that Carmen is mad hot, I guess, because guys are falling all over themselves for her. However, Carmen has a thing for police officer Jose. Then we end up in some bar, where former projects resident-turned-famous producer Escamillo shows up. Oh yeah, and he has a thing for Carmen as well. Tragedy ensues in the very next scene.

I guess I felt this version by Walter Dean Myers was under developed. There weren’t enough scenes to get to know the characters. I had no idea what was so magnetic about Carmen. I had no idea why Jose was so attracted to her except for her looks. I didn’t feel the same passion as my favorite version of Carmen. I mean, my ARC copy was literally 110 pages and did not have the author’s note. Perhaps the author’s note would have upped my opinion of this version, but I doubt it.

I suppose the very best thing about Carmen by Walter Dean Myers is that it is a fast read. I read it during the 24 hour readathon and it legit took me half an hour to read, as it’s in play form, and only 110 pages, and well, those aren’t prose type pages with sentences and paragraphs taking up the full page. No it was like one sentence of 8 words. Line. Next character. Sentence. Line. Next character. So yes, literally a read that takes no time.

I think Carmen may appeal to people who don’t like reading, because it’s short. It’s a play. There’s a lot of blank space. Plus there’s some violence.

However, if you want an excellent adaptation of this story, I suggest you skip Carmen by Walter Dean Myers and run out and buy When The Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer instead.

Disclosure: Received for review.

Other Reviews:

The Book Splot
The Electrical Book Cafe
Killin Time Reading
Sarah’s Random Musings

Purchase a copy of Carmen here.


About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


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