October 12, 2012 by Heidi
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.
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?