Juliet Immortal (Juliet Immortal #1)
The most tragic love story in history . . .
Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.
"These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume."
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Stacey Jay made Romeo and Juliet palatable characters by completely changing things up. In this version, it turns out Romeo is totally willing to turn homicidal on Juliet in exchange for eternal life, given him by forces of evil known as the Mercenaries. Juliet, thanks to last minute intervention from Nurse, gets eternal life as well, signing on to work for the Ambassadors, the forces of light. I acknowledge that this all sounds patently ridiculous, but it's fantasy, so just take my word for it that, by and large, this paranormal plot line worked quite well for me.
Most of the narration (minus three chapters/intermezzos) is Juliet's first person perspective. Her work for the Ambassadors entails taking over another person's body, chosen seemingly at random. From this vantage point, her goal is to find a pair of lovers and make sure they reach true love, rather than one of them being recruited into the evil/eternal life scheme as happened with Romeo. While in another person's body, Juliet must avoid changing their life over much, but does try to improve things, which reminded me rather strongly of Mercy by Rebecca Lim.
This time, Juliet manifests in the body of a deeply depressed, lonely girl named April. Unfortunately, Romeo, who takes over dead bodies, restoring them to life and not the zombie-looking kind, appears in the same car with her, since April and Dylan had just been in a major car crash. Basically, Dylan had a bet that he could sleep with April, she found out, he tried to force her, and she crashed the car, killing him. In other words, Dylan sucks. Guess what, though! Romeo's WAY creepier. Call me morbid, but I got serious enjoyment out of watching the 'true lovers' end up such a hot mess.
Jay's writing and concept were phenomenal, and I was never bored. However, I did have some problems with the book. The main one is Juliet's gullibility. She's depicted as this strong, determined character, who has wised up from all of the horrible things Romeo has put her through. Though she supposedly works in pursuit of true love, she doesn't really believe in it anymore, and really just hopes for a chance to revenge herself on Romeo. All of that = fantastic.
Unfortunately, Juliet, it seems, hasn't learned much of anything. She immediately instaloves with someone else, Ben, the guy who saves her from Romeo that first night. Good lord, girl! Didn't you learn the first time that it doesn't hurt to take some time and not rush into things? It's hard to believe she's got her emotional walls up, if she instaloves so easily. She doesn't even fight it very hard. Heck, the true lovers she's sent to help fight their love more than she does, for all her wordy protestations.
I just wish she had been that way in all of her life, been a bit more questioning of love the second time around. That's just not who she is, though, I guess. On an unrelated note, can we stop with the whole "I'm writing a retelling of this play set in high school, so I'll totally have the school perform this play!" thing. Yes, that was once a clever gambit, but that ship has sailed, dear authors. It has been done enough; try something new. Note: SHS doesn't actually perform Romeo and Juliet; they perform West Side Story, which is almost worse.
The ending, too, seemed a bit overly convenient. I didn't really feel like everyone could emerge from this tale quite so happily. Of course, there's always the next book, which might be slightly different. I am eminently curious to see what angle Jay takes in the next book.
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.
Juliet is not the same Juliet from the play, no, no. She's tough, a fighter. Her new goal is to protect the love of others since hers was destroyed. She's smart and quick and she just wants someone to love her the way she thought Romeo did. I really, really liked Juliet.
Romeo may have been my favorite character, even though he's the bad guy. He was super sarcastic and had this dark, twisted humor I really appreciated it. I know we're supposed to hate him, but I kinda rooted for him to be happy. So I was pretty psyched when I found out there's a companion novel from his perspective.
I loved the romance between Juliet and her new guy. It was lovely and awesome and adorable and just...*sigh* Yes. Yes it was.
I really enjoyed Stacey Jay's writing. She had a really unique voice for Juliet and it was refreshing to read something so different. She kept me captivated in this intense, wonderful story. I was totally engaged in this book and didn't want to put it down.
I know this is a horribly vague review, but I read the book in...March? Maybe April? It was several months ago, I know that much. But I really did love this book and I'm stoked to have a copy of Romeo Redeemed on my Kindle already. If you're like me and way behind in picking up this book, go. Do it now. Now is a good time to get this book.
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.
That is my favorite quotation in Juliet Immortal.
I answered "maybe" for recommendation because one may not like it and one may. I personally liked it and didn't at the same time.