Duo Review: Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay

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October 12, 2012 by Heidi

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay book coverRomeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay book cover

Title: Juliet Immortal [Amazon|Goodreads]
and Romeo Redeemed [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Stacey Jay [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Juliet Immortal (Book 1), Romeo Redeemed (Book 2) in a duology.
Genre: Young Adult, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Published: Juliet Immortal on August 9th, 2011; Romeo Redeemed on October 9th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
Format: Juliet Immortal Hardcover 307 pages; Romeo Redeemed Hardcover 384 pages.
Source: Juliet Immortal was borrowed from my local library, Romeo Redeemed was an ARC for review from publisher via NetGalley.
Spoilers!: This review is spoiler free for the duology!

What if the “greatest love story ever told” wasn’t?  I think just about all women around my age remember when Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet released in 1996.  We remember because we were as young, rash, emotional, and impressionable as the characters in that story.  A new generation fell in love with a timeless play that had been capturing young hearts for centuries.  I bought the movie on VHS, I listened to the soundtrack constantly (still do–it holds up), heck, I learned to play Kissing You on the piano.  And then I got to high school where I actually read and studied the play…That’s when I realized what a load of crap the whole thing was.

A 16 year old and a 14 year old fall so epically in forbidden love that they cannot bear to live on this earth without the other?  In three days.  When one of them’s on the rebound and clearly wants to piss off daddy.  Right… The older I got, the more and more it seemed to me as if Romeo was just a fickle prick who knew how to say all the right things.  Maybe I dated one too many jerks in my youth, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they had lived, would they have made it?  And I couldn’t help but think, probably not.

Then Stacey Jay came into my life.  I feel as if she gets my issues and uncertainties about Romeo & Juliet and somehow manages to prove me absolutely right and absolutely wrong at the same time in her duology Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed.  In this series, Stacey Jay will erase everything you think you know about how Romeo & Juliet ended and introduce you to a struggle much greater than a single couple.

Juliet killed herself when she awoke to find Romeo dead, but what she didn’t realize was that he had tricked her.  Selfish and power hungry, Romeo sacrifices his love.  Juliet’s soul, instead of departing, is saved by an Ambassador of Light who administers a set of vows enlisting Juliet’s services in assuring the hearts of true loves throughout the centuries.  Juliet’s soul is brought back to earth as an Ambassador, where she inhabits a living body for a time and uses it as a vessel to help bring soul mates together and assure their lasting love.  If she is victorious, the couple will have a happily ever after, but if she fails, they will be split as her and Romeo.

When Romeo tricked Juliet, it was for power, but little did he know that he would become a slave to darkness.  Juliet vowed herself to the Ambassadors, but Romeo, betrayer, vowed himself to the Mercenaries.  The Mercenaries and the Ambassadors have been fighting a war as old as time for chaos or good.  While Juliet works to bring couples together, Romeo inhabits unfeeling corpses and tempts lovers astray as he himself was tempted, bringing more and more Mercenaries to the fight every time he can convince a lover to sacrifice their true love.

My mind continues to reel at the originality of Stacey Jay’s world.  This eternal struggle coupled with beautiful character development helped me to believe in true love, no matter how quick or young it might occur.  Stacey Jay shows us that our first meeting with soul mates is not the end all be all of happiness, and that everyone deserves a second chance.  Juliet Immortal, the first book in the duology, throws us into this 700 year struggle between husband and wife, those who once loved but now seek only to destroy one another.  We see that Juliet’s story is bigger than a Shakespearean play, and I personally felt as if it was the story Juliet deserved.  In Romeo Redeemed, it is no surprise that the monstrous creature that Romeo has become receives his chance at redemption–his chance to acknowledge his past, change his future, and embrace who he is.

My only complaints about these books is some of the synchronicity and the covers.  To me, once I read Romeo Redeemed, the ending of Juliet Immortal became very confusing.  The differences could be easily explained away by the convenient ‘multiple reality’ structure that was built into the world, but I’m not sure that really works.  It seemed to be understood that despite the fact that there could be many versions of one person, that version would not be the exact same person as another version, and thus, the Juliet in Juliet Immortal and the Juliet in Romeo Redeemed shouldn’t be–but are–the same Juliet.  I realize Stacey Jay may not have been 100% certain of getting to publish/write Romeo Redeemed when she wrote the ending of Juliet Immortal, but this bothered me nonetheless.  Also–these are some of the worst covers I can think of.  I don’t hate the Juliet Immortal cover, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the story.  At no point in either of these books is there a scene on a beach.  Not one.  So why the beach scenes–especially why the From Here to Eternity young Leonardo DiCaprio look-alike mash up of horribleness that exists on the Romeo Redeemed cover?  I am rarely this baffled by covers, but this series really takes the cake.

Stacy Jay’s Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed is the perfect duology for those of us cynics who really wish we were romantics.  It’s a story that shows that we can make our own choices, good or bad, but that sometimes fate lends a helping hand.  I love the idea of recognizing the souls of those you feel a strong emotional connection to, no matter whose skin they wear.  It is a series about love, forgiveness, and creating a better future for ourselves yesterday.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:
My extreme enjoyment of this series continues to be a surprise to me.  It’s just the type of story I would normally find eye-rollingly sappy, but is so astoundingly creative and well written I just can’t help but love it.  By all rights it should be cheesy, but it isn’t.  If Stacey Jay can continue to put such a unique spin on her books, I’ll most certainly be back for more–though I’ll happily take recommendations for her older books if anyone has read them.

Recommended for:
I can see a lot of YA readers loving this one, and I can see many not really enjoying it.  I guess it might depend on your initial opinion of Romeo & Juliet, your capacity to enjoy a slightly sappy tale every so often, and your secret desires for an epic love story.

Real life repercussions of reading this book:
Musical Confession: Yes. I love that Taylor Swift song. So so much…*hides face in shame*

Also very curious to see if Baz Luhrmann is able to do for The Great Gatsby what he did for Romeo + Juliet.  Will that be the new weirdly romantic story to capture a generation?

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12 comments »

  1. I’ll admit it – I’m a cynic, I hate Romeo an Juliet, and I totally wrote off this book. Gosh, I wish I hadn’t though! I love the unique take on this classic story that this author has taken and although I’m a little skeptical about the discrepancies between the first two books, since you enjoyed it I’m convinced I will too. I definitely need something to do R&J MY way and this just might be it. Wonderful review, Heidi! I feel as of my TBR-Pile grows every time I visit your blog, so yay! 😉

    • Heidi says:

      Yay! I don’t think that everyone is going to love this series, but I really enjoyed it and felt it was pretty perfect for the R&J hater in me. I hope that you do check it out! The discrepancies really might have been my understanding, and not a real issue as well, I just felt as if the ending of the first book negated what was going on with Juliet in the second book.

  2. LOL!
    You are the only reviewer I’ve seen who understands the whole Mercenary/Ambassador thing AND explains it well. I reviewed RR Wednesday and I’m linking to this review. While I was confused by that, I did get the whole “multiple reality” thing just fine – after explaining to one of my commenters that yes, reality splits in the first few pages of Juliet Immortal so that Ariel can live instead of die.
    But I’m a big fan of these books — really imaginative.
    That song. You are brave to admit that…

    My Review of Romeo Redeemed

    • Heidi says:

      Haha, thanks, Jen! Glad I get the Ambassador/Mercenary thing across okay. :)

      The many worlds/realities thing didn’t bother me at all, except for in the case of Juliet. It just got a little too confusing mixing time travel/multiple realities. I felt like she was supposed to be the same Juliet as in book one, whereas Ariel was a different Ariel. Because she was the same Juliet, the different circumstances were hard to reconcile in my head.

      I agree though–this is such an imaginative series! And what can I say? I’m a brave girl…

  3. Blast. I was so against reading these books, but now you made me want to read them.

  4. elena says:

    Oh wow, I don’t think I would have checked out this books because of the cover/titles BUT it does sound really interesting, especially the mythology. I’m glad you enjoyed this duology overall!

    • Heidi says:

      I did, Elena! And yes, the titles sound cheesy, and the covers don’t represent the books AT ALL, which is a shame because I feel like there is a lot of depth and intrigue in there that comes about pretty unexpectedly.

  5. Wow your review has really piqued my interest! I’ll admit I’ve seen these covers but barely spared them a second glance. I suppose I’m glad that they are not indicative of the stories themselves. Romeo and Juliet has never been my favorite Shakespeare play (Hamlet gets that honor). I also was more than a little confused and skeptical of the power of their love. But Jay’s take on the story sounds really fresh and engrossing. I will definitely have to look further into these books.

    P.S. I loved how Luhrmann kept the original lines from the play and didn’t modernize that aspect. It was so cool! And maybe it did help people appreciate his language more, because it certainly helped me listening to it instead of reading it.

    • Heidi says:

      I agree! I think that Luhrmann really helped people understand Shakespeare–a lot of whom hadn’t been able to, or were too intimidated to try before his movie. Shakespeare is meant to be watched, not read, and I think that those who are able to see his work performed are the ones who will grow to love him.

      Romeo and Juliet is not my favorite at all, which is part of the reason I loved Jay’s reimagining so much!

  6. Heidi. Oh gracious.

    First of all. I freaking LOVE these covers. So to find they are not in the book is devastating to me. HOWEVER, I would have been even more devastated to find that out AFTER I had read these books. So THANK YOU. Now I shall cry at how beautiful they are and how disappointed I am. *hang on a few minutes*

    Okay, I’m back. You mention duology, which tells me that this is a completed series? I hope so because I have NOT YET wanted to read it until NOW. I have heard mixed feelings about it but you, once again, have made me feel ALL THE FEELINGS about these books and I have never even picked them up. HOW ARE YOU ALWAYS ABLE TO DO THIS?

    I love Romeo + Juliet. All versions of it. But I love that someone has taken it and made their own of it too…and I love what it sounds like. You mention a few quirks in the story, so I can just be prepared that they will be there. And the cover thing (cries again). But wow, these sound like books I might like. I’d LOVE to pick these up and read them based on this review. Totally on this review.

    (About Gatsby, I have HIGH HIGH HIGH hopes for that one. I adore anything Baz Luhrmann touches, and it looks amazing so far. We shall see! Gatsby is one of my favorite classics, so I am open to it being interpreted as long as it isn’t butchered.)

    • Heidi says:

      Hahaha, you poor thing! Sorry to break it to you about the covers. I’m not a fan of the Romeo one, but I really liked the Juliet one and was so confused about how that even happened with the given story.

      It is a completed series! And I LOVE that I’m always able to do that to you because I am slightly evil, but I also kind of love seeing other people read books I enjoy. I really hope that you do pick it up, I’d love to hear what you think.

      Okay so…I haven’t ever read Gatsby. Shhhhh. It’s one of those that I think I always expected to be required to read at some point, but then I never was so I just never did. Still, I need to, probably before the movie which I have HUGE hopes for.

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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