Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: Juliet Immortal

Juliet Immortal
Author: Stacey Jay
Published: August 9, 2011
Hardcover, 306 pages
3 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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.

Juliet Immortal is not your ordinary Romeo and Juliet love story. Romeo and Juliet did not kill themselves for love. Romeo, a Mercenary, killed Juliet in order to become immortal. Betrayed and forsaken, Juliet becomes an Ambassador of Light, immortal on her own and now the arch nemesis of Romeo. Juliet's job is to keep soul mates together and out of the hands of the Mercenaries. Every century or so, she is sent into the mortal world in someone else's body in order to protect true love. Juliet believes love has failed her, Romeo now her worst enemy, and hates the idea of bringing soul mates together. When she meets Ben she experiences the same feelings she felt with Romeo, even though she knows it's forbidden for her to fall in love. When Romeo shows up in a body right next to her, she knows this mission will be unlike any other, and Romeo won't leave until he knows he can have Juliet as his own for eternity.

Romeo and Juliet is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays and I'm always interested in retellings. The problem is, I have yet to find a retelling that I love as much as the original. I love the idea of having the forbidden romance in modern times, but that has yet to be what any of the retellings I've read have been about. I was interested in this one because it seemed completely different. Romeo and Juliet, now enemies, but with this history of the crazy magical love they once felt for each other. Juliet is smarter, knowing that what she felt for Romeo was probably not real. She's much more mature in this novel, having been alive for over 700 years. The plot was good and I enjoyed the challenges that Juliet faced throughout the novel, but the writing fell short for me. I wasn't in love with the characters and I found myself just wanting the book to be done. 

Juliet inhabits a new body whenever she comes back to Earth. The body she's in this time, Ariel, has been in an accident and she has burn scars all over her face. This is an important element to her character, but it's not explored as much as I would have liked. In no way did I want Juliet and Romeo to get back together, his character not at all charming like Ben was. He made a good villain, knowing everything about Juliet that she wished he didn't. As she tried to get her soul mates together while also trying to avoid her feelings for Ben, Romeo was always there, always showing her that he had her first. I had no idea how their story would play out in the end. And I was quite surprised and happy with the ending, which is the reason I gave this more than 2 stars.

The subtle additions for the original play kept my interest. Juliet's nurse became her mentor, the Friar Romeo's boss. The forbidden love between Juliet and Ben had the tellings for a real love story. Juliet learns throughout the novel that it's best that her and Romeo did not survive back then as there would have been no way for them to live without any money. The novel had its strong points, the plot moved quickly and the ending was dramatic, but there was something missing that made me not love it. I'm still eager to find a retelling that will give me the same feelings the original play did, hoping that tragic love can still be beautiful in modern times. 

“Real love has little to do with falling. It's a climb up the rocky face of a mountain, hard work, and most people are too selfish or too scared to bother. Very few reach the critical point in their relationship that summons the attention of the light and the dark, that place where they will make a commitment to love no matter what obstacles-or temptations- appear in their path.” 

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