Juliet Immortal made some pretty valiant attempts toward being a compelling novel. And the majority of those attempts worked pretty well. Unfortunately, when one is writing a book that’s a spin-off of the most infamous case of isntalove ever, there might be more problems. Namely: more instalove. Say what you like, but I don’t believe that real, lasting love happens after 1 hour of acquaintance. I also don’t personally believe in soulmates, a theme that played a huge role in this book. Cut and dry of this is: fantastic, absolutely wonderful premise, prose, and characterization; god-awful romance.
Stacey Jay’s plot concept is really unique, as far as YA paranormal romance goes. Romeo murdered Juliet, sacrificing her soul for his own immortality, and now the two are locked on opposing sides of this huge Dark vs. Light battle that’s been going on since the beginning of time. When both of their souls get transplanted into the bodies of modern American teenagers, stuff happens. Stuff like a really nutso love pentagon (and, towards the end, a hexagon).
Even though I’m not exactly a huge fan of love geometry (I’m more for love via linear equations, algebra style), I was actually pretty impressed with Jay’s handling of everything. Juliet Immortal does a great job balancing the paranormal stuff with everyday school stuff, and not once did I feel confused, annoyed, or anything else in the face of this plot’s progression.
Also, I really enjoyed Jay’s prose. I wouldn’t say it’s super poetic or earth shattering, but it was strong and well-presented, matching Juliet’s personality as a narrator quite well. This author is very good at getting emotions—particularly angst—across to the reader, but not in a lame, cheesy kind of way.
But obviously I didn’t completely love Juliet Immortal, and the number one reason was instalove. This book takes place over a period of three days. In the first chapter, Juliet meets this guy named Ben, who was actually a really decent love interest with an angsty past and a troubled life (Jay is big on the angst, like I said.) I had no problems with Ben. What I had was that Ben tells Juliet that he knew after an hour that she was the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Okay, maybe I’d buy that from an adult. From a 17-year-old kid who’s having problems with a pre-existing girlfriend? No way. But, in any case, Ben then sang a song, and you all know the words. It goes kind of like this: “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but I really love you, so marry me, baby.”
Cue disgusted snorts and Nook-launching from my end. Oy vey. Proposing marriage at 17 years old after three days’ acquaintance is ludicrous. It reminds me of a certain Shakespeare play, come to think of it… Hmm. Well, at least Juliet is consistent!
Anyway. In the overall picture, I though Juliet Immortal was a wonderful book, unique and creatively constructed. I hate instalove, though, so I’m taking of stars for the eye-rolling and headache this book gave me. Otherwise, though, this was super good, and I loved that Juliet (finally) got her happy ending.
I wanted to love this book. A YA contemporary spin-off of a Shakespeare classic? Brilliant! But while the plot held my attention, there were a few too many plot holes, I couldn't relate to any of the characters, and the mythology of the Mercenaries and Ambassadors wasn't explained well.
My biggest concern was how easily Juliet overlooked the obvious truth. From the beginning, she believes that Gemma and Ben are the soul mates she is in charge of helping to fall in love. Since she is Juliet and falls in love-at-first-sight, complications arise when she begins to have feelings for Ben shortly after they meet. Her feelings for Ben begin to cloud her judgment, as this is the first human she has had feelings for since Romeo, and rather then help repair the relationships in Ariel's life, she starts to make things worse. I don't usually do this, but to better explain my frustrations I will have to leak a spoiler. So if you would rather not know (although, I figured it out 200 pages before Juliet so I don't know that its uncommon knowledge for the reader) I would move on to my next paragraph. How Juliet didn't figure out that Ben and Gemma were not the soul mates she was looking for is beyond my comprehension. It was very obvious that they did not have feelings for each other, and with Ben's reaction to Juliet from their initial meeting, how she could think he was destined to be with Gemma was just unrealistic. While I wasn't sure who Gemma's soul mate was, I knew it must have been someone else, and that it just couldn't be Ben.
My other problem was with how quickly Juliet found herself in love with Ben. Yes, I realize this is an extension of Romeo and Juliet, but after being hurt so deeply by Romeo's betrayal, how she could trust her feelings so quickly was just annoying. And Ben! He was talking about how he could see a future with her, marriage and children, after only knowing her for three days. I just had no sympathy for Juliet's predicament (she was forbidden to love a human since she was merely borrowing some other soul's body temporarily) since I couldn't understand her feelings for Ben (or his for her). The reasons he listed for being in love with her were all things one finds on the surface, and she merely felt a spark of recognition and an instant connection - neither of which are the basis for a real relationship.
Gemma was a confusing character. She was so friendly and charming in some chapters, and then in others she was a cold-hearted bitch. Her moods seemed to change quickly and without explanation. Romeo was similar, but I understood the reasons for his actions - he was doing anything and everything possible to make Juliet believe his version of things, as he believed it was the only way to get his body back without having to renew his vows to the Mercenaries. As he slipped further into madness, I found myself getting more and more angry with Juliet for turning to him for answers. Someone that desperate will say, or do, anything to get what they want. And I really wish we had gotten to see more of Ariel. She was mentioned mostly in passing, as Juliet dug for one of her memories, but her story seemed more interesting then a lot of what was happening.
I loved Juliet's ending, even though it was a happily-ever-after type ending, I don't feel like Gemma necessarily deserved the ending she got, and Romeo's ending went from being too harsh to too lenient.
Overall I enjoyed this book, but I don't know that I'll continue with the series.
This book disappointed me. I was really looking forward to reading it as the plot was absolutely fascinating; however, I just hated the author's writing style. It was like trying to muddle through quick sand. The author took entirely took long to explain things that could have explained much later in the book or in a much shorter manner. If you can get past that, you might like the book. The plot is still fascinating and the story is quite good.