Review: Juliet Immortal

Review: Juliet ImmortalJuliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
Series: Juliet Immortal #1
Published by Delacorte BFYR on August 9, 2011
Genres: Paranormal, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 306
Format: Hardcover
Source: Won
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Fans of Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver and Becca Fitzpatrick's Hushwill relish this intense paranormal love story featuring Romeo and Juliet, literary history's most tragic couple, who meet again, not as true lovers, but truly as enemies.

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.

First Sentence: “Tonight, he could have come through the door—the castello is quiet, even the servants asleep in their beds, and Nurse would have let him in—but he chooses the window, climbing through the tangle of night flowers, carrying petals in on his clothes.”

Review:
In all honesty, I really didn’t expect to like this. Romeo and Juliet was not my favorite play to begin with, and, because of its ubiquitousness, I’ve grown rather to loathe it. While I general hunt down retellings like Jaws hunts down the people of Amity, I make an exception for Romeo and Juliet most of the time. To my pleasant surprise though, I really, really was impressed with Juliet Immortal and am thrilled that I have a copy of the sequel Romeo Redeemed ready to go.

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.

Favorite Quote:

There is school and the misery of being a person unseen, the jealousy that I can’t be wild and beautiful like Gemma, that I am always an audience, never a player.

23 responses to “Review: Juliet Immortal”

  1. Steena says:

    GIFS! Not JUST GIFs, themed Some Like it Hot GIFs! This is my favorite ever. I also am not a fan of Romeo & Juliet, especially when people talk about how romantic it is but I think I might give this one a try, even if just for the cover.

    • Christina says:

      Hahaha, you are welcome. I love Some Like It Hot, and totally had to watch it last night in celebration.

      You should totally try this, Steena. I seriously enjoyed it, even when it made me cock my head to the side in confusion over whether I approved.

  2. Hahahaha these gifs.

    I loved Juliet Immortal and was willing to suspend my instalove feelings for the swoons, and I guess if an author’s writing style really resonates with me, then I also will let things slide.

    Glad you liked Juliet Immortal for the most part. 🙂

    • Christina says:

      I really did like her writing, and it was definitely a 4 or 4.5 for readability and joy. I marked it down because of the issues I had, but I still will probably reread someday!

  3. Yeah, i wasn’t a big fan of the ending either..but I am glad you enjoyed this and Romeo’s book is so much better!

    • Christina says:

      Sweet. I am so curious to see where the story goes. Sounds interesting, even though Romeo was a douche in this one. He was the kind of bad guy that’s really interesting, though!

  4. This concept sounds really interesting. At first I wanted nothing to do with this because I am just NOT a fan of R&J. Also, wouldn’t it have just been easier to not make this a retelling? Her characters don’t really seem close to Shakespeare’s and the paranormal plot is good enough to stand on its own.

    • Christina says:

      Oh, it’s not a retelling! It’s just based on it. Ummm, I don’t know. I got a big kick out of them being Romeo and Juliet but like they actually might have been instead of the play ones.

  5. Kayla Beck says:

    Okay, I’m intrigued. I usually avoid Shakespeare retellings like the plague if I can help it at all, but this one sounds like it won’t make me want to claw out my eyes.

    Also, the cover is very nice. 🙂

  6. anya says:

    Omfg love at first summary-read. I love Shakespeare fanfics. Does that sound weird? Yes, it probably does. Anyways.

    On the other hand, I do like slightly less gullible heroines but STILL. Romeo and Juliet. I could only be happier if 1) this Juliet was less gullible or 2) there was a sequel about A Midsummer Night’s Dream. *fangirl* SHAKESPEARE DA BOMB.

    I like the cover. In fact, the tagline thingy isn’t even so bad, but I’m super biased about it because the summary sounds so exciting. I may check it out from the library. Like right now.

    The only thing is that the ‘Ambassadors of Light’ sound really cheesy. Grr.

    • Christina says:

      I’m not really in a position to judge the things people want to read. I’ve read some seriously awful manga in my life, and some fan fics. Haha.

      The thing is that she isn’t gullible, except she just falls in love in like five seconds. Otherwise, I really liked her. On the plus side, once betrayed by someone, she does seem to learn about them. There is a sequel, but I don’t know if it’s going to have elements of another play. That WOULD be awesome, though.

      Actually, I think it’s a pretty good tag line. It tells you what the book’s about and is unique.

      That does SOUND lame, but it’s not too bad.

      You should DEF read this!

  7. KM says:

    I’m so proud of you and your GIF usage!! 😀 I haven’t read this book yet because of so many bad reviews, but maybe I can add it back to my TBR pile again now. Glad you liked it!

  8. Nori says:

    Like KM said, I haven’t read this book yet because of a number of bad reviews that I have read…But I own it, and it’s a lovely cover. And I also have a galley of book 2. You’re making me want to push the book up from the dredges of my TBR pile. It sounds really interesting actually. And believe it or not, I’m not a huge Romeo and Juliet fan either. As a certain sassy friend would say, “I think you’re 14. And your an idiot.”

  9. roro says:

    tnx 4 the review . still giving it a try though

  10. GIFS!!! And oh no, 3.5 stars… Well gosh darn dangit… I was really looking forward to this! Sorry you hated it. 🙁

    All kidding aside, I’m happy to see a positive review for this. So far all I’ve seen are negative reviews, so it’s nice to have a different perspective. I’m still not sure whether I’ll be reading it, because it just doesn’t sound like something I’d like, but I’m happy you liked it! I mean hated it. Because 3.5 stars indicate you hated it with a passion.

    • Christina says:

      You understand me so completely!

      I really hadn’t seen any reviews for it. I may have to go see the negative ones just to find out what incensed them so. Meh. I think my utter hatred of the original characters of Romeo and Juliet helped. :-p

  11. Renae says:

    Excellent review! I’m not a fan of Romeo&Juliet under normal circumstances, so like you I was a bit leery of picking this one up. It’s nice to heard, though, that Romeo isn’t the awesomely swoon-worthy dude that I thought he would be. Evil Romeo might actually work for me.

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