Sunday, September 11, 2011

Juliet Immortal

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
Release Date: Been on the shelves since August 9, 2011
Reviewed by: Honorary Sister Marylee
This sister says: Original, Action-packed, Captivating

Summary from 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.

This premise grabbed me from the get-go! As a theatre major I’m obligated to love the Bard and all of his works, and believe me I do. I mean, his stories have survived for centuries for a reason people! Romeo and Juliet is arguably his most famous/most performed work, and I thought for Ms. Jay to take a risk by twisting Shakespeare’s story in the way she did was a big one. But it totally paid off!

See, Shakespeare had it all wrong. Juliet loved Romeo, but Romeo loved the idea of immortality more than her. He sacrificed her in order to gain perpetuity. What he didn’t reckon was that through the centuries of his immortal life there would still be a Capulet vs. Montague war, only this time he and Juliet would be at the center of it, fighting each other, her fighting for love and him fighting for evil.

This enthralling read drops you right into the middle of the action, and the pace just doesn’t slow down. Juliet inhabits the body of an emotionally and physically damaged girl named Ariel as an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. She is sent to make sure two soul mates commit to each other. Romeo, as an agent of the Mercenaries of the Apocalypse is sent to make sure one of the soul mates makes the same decision that he did, to sacrifice the other for eternal life. R & J have been doing this for centuries, but this time things are different, and Romeo thinks he has the way to end their never-ending cycle of war. But when Juliet meets a boy named Ben it messes up his plans, and confuses her heart!

There is so much to love about this book! I literally could not put it down and flew through it in one evening. Juliet is a great, complex character who is easy to relate to and love even when she is being difficult, and I found Romeo as a villain deliciously dark and exciting. As easy as it is to hate Romeo for what he did to Juliet, he gives some pretty legit reasons for why he did it, and I found myself caring for him in spite of myself. I did however have problems with the characters of Gemma and Ben. I tire easily of bratty poor-little-rich-girl types like Gemma, and I had little sympathy for her. I found her treatment of Ariel really unforgivable no matter how starved Ariel is for friends. Ben, I just found too perfect. I need my men to have some flaws! I forgave that because I wanted Juliet to find happiness with a nice guy, but Ben started off so wonderful that there was really no room for him to grow as a character. As there will be a sequel to Juliet Immortal, I was ok with the fact that the entire mythology of the book wasn’t explained thoroughly and am looking forward to more of the mythology/world-building in Romeo Redeemed.

My hope is that teens who maybe feel that Shakespeare isn’t really the same language as ours read this story and maybe give the source material it’s based on a chance. Ms. Jay incorporated some of the source material into her novel and inspired me to reread it, and I hope others will give it a chance as well.

The captivating story, the twists, the realistic and very well dealt with themes, Juliet’s realization (which really spoke to me personally), Ariel’s relationship with her mother, and the ending are more than enough to keep me saying, “Out damn sequel! Out I say!”… Ok, so that reference is from another Shakespeare play, it still fits!