Book Reviews

[review] Juliet Immortal – Stacey Jay

Release Date: August 9, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Personal copy

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.

Discovery: Mostly late blog buzz, though I did read a review on Publisher’s Weekly.

+     Unique plot. I first read Romeo & Juliet when I was eight years old and I loved it. The romance & passion were unequaled, especially for a little girl who’d just graduated from simple chapter books. In the years since, I’ve read dozens of stories that claim to be fresh retellings of the classic play and while I don’t begrudge them that right, I haven’t really been blown away by any of the changes.

I’m quite impressed with the world that Stacey Jay created in this novel. Romeo has become synonymous with undying love and sacrifice, and to see that turned on its head? Sheer brilliance. It brings up a lot of issues that I think society has taken for granted or ignored, such as the lack of common sense in the original play. It was beautifully-written, to be sure, but Romeo and Juliet weren’t thinking straight. Call it love or madness–I would say both are the same thing and both certainly bring their share of complexities to one’s life. It’s hard enough for a 30-year-old to find and keep love and two 14-year-olds wouldn’t exactly have the maturity to keep that relationship going. Jay understands that and the story is sometimes brutally frank when it comes to reminding the reader of it.

+     Romance. Even though I enjoyed seeing Romeo and Juliet parted (no “sweet sorrow” on my end), I was very pleased with the romance that Juliet encounters with another character. There were times that I felt like it was a little rushed, but overall, the fuzzy feelings were quite welcome. I won’t say much because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but trust me, if you aren’t wibbly by the end of the book, you should go back and reread because it’s just gorgeous. I do have a caveat for the end chapter though, which I’ll talk about in greater detail below.

–     Execution. I’ll say it again, Juliet Immortal had a great plot. The way it was written? Not so much. The length and character development were two things that I thought were inconsistent. In the book, you’ll find that there are at least two mini-chapters from Romeo’s point-of-view. I don’t think they were necessary to the development of the story, and the pages could have been used to better elaborate on the mythology. I also thought that the last few scenes were quite rushed and a little confusing. These are all problems that could have been fixed in another revision, but I’m hoping that Romeo Redeemed has a tighter narrative.

As for character development? Again, I can’t say much without revealing key plot points, but I was a little dissatisfied with the twist at the end. It seemed a little too contrived and I’m not sure I like the conclusion. It smacks a little of destiny playing another hand of cards. What is Juliet working for if she ends up without a real choice in the end? Was she simply meant to be shuffled off to the “real” nice guy? I think this might be a case of a heroine who’s better off being single. I would have liked to see her really gain a sense of independence and understanding of her own needs and wants before entering another relationship.

Recommendations: I don’t plan on doing this again, but I have to repeat what a Goodreads reviewer said about this book:

“If you love Romeo & Juliet, you’ll hate this book. If you hate Romeo & Juliet, you’ll love this book.”

I enjoyed it and liked the romance, but the writing leaves a little more to be desired. I would still heartily recommend this book for the sheer creativity that Jay pours in. Romeo Redeemed has just been added to my TBR pile!

Rating: Good.

Go check out Stacey Jay’s website and follow her on Twitter @staceyjay.

You can check out Juliet Immortal on Goodreads and order it over at Amazon and Book Depository.

Next review:  The Girl Who Was on Fire


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