I know I gave some brief insight into Juliet Immortal when I posted my “5 reasons to read Juliet Immortal” post last week, and all I have to say is that it only gets better from there. As of this point, JI is officially my favorite book of the year. Yes, it’s that good. So good, in fact, that I’ve been trying to write this review for two whole days and have yet to be able to coherently find a way describe it without lots of fangirl squealing. But here goes…
Let me preface this review by saying I HATE romance. RomCom’s and trashy romance novels? So NOT my thing. But there was always something about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that always got me. Maybe it was because it DIDN’T have a happy ending. Or maybe it was because of the Leo DiCaprio adaptation that came out when I was young and impressionable. Whatever the reason, when I heard about Juliet Immortal, I knew Stacey Jay was going to have to work hard to impress me with this one. And impress me, she did. What she has done with Romeo and Juliet is nothing short of genius.
The Story: We all know the story of Romeo & Juliet… the only children of two feuding families fall in love with each other and, at the end of Shakespeare’s tragedy, the pair of star crossed lovers take their life. But what if that’s not the way it went down? What if Romeo murdered Juliet because a dark power gave Romeo an offer he couldn’t refuse?
Romeo is a Mercenary who is sent to destroy the souls of lovers, and Juliet is sent by the Ambassadors of Light to bring soulmates together and make them forever immune from the Mercenaries’ evil. Their souls occupy the bodies of people close to the ones they are trying to protect (or destroy, if you’re working for the Mercenaries).
In 2011, Juliet jumps into the body of Ariel Dragland, an 18-year-old high schooler known to her schoolmates as the school freak. Romeo’s soul lands in Dylan, Ariel’s scum bucket classmate. When Juliet meets Ben, another classmate and Ariel’s knight-in-shining-armor, history repeats itself when she rapidly starts to develop some very forbidden feelings for him. Things get even worse when Juliet discovers that the lovers she’s been sent to bring together are Ariel’s self absorbed best friend, Gemma… and Ben. While Juliet is trying to put her feelings aside to save Ben and Gemma, Romeo is determined to cast a spell which will free his and Juliet’s souls from the Mercenaries and Ambassadors forever. To make it work, he needs Juliet to love him again. Unfortunately, her love for him was substituted long ago with pure hate. When Juliet discovers Ben is in love with her/Ariel and finally remembers what happened between her and Romeo back in the day, she is forced to make a decision that could cost not just Gemma and Ben their souls, but hers and Romeo’s as well.
The Low Down: OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD I CANNOT STOP RAVING ABOUT THIS BOOK. *ahem* Yes, as I was saying… Stacey Jay has scored big time with her twisted tale of Romeo and Juliet. Of all the “twists on the tale” type stories out there, this is my absolute favorite. The story Jay has crafted is positively brilliant and the writing itself is beautiful. JI is filled with vivid imagery and striking descriptions of characters, places, and time periods.
Jay’s characters are realistic and well developed. Juliet is the ultimate heroine. She is bitter and angry about what Romeo did to her in the past, but nobly continues to be a crusader for love by bringing soulmates together. I was grateful to finally read a YA romance starring a strong female main character with a mind of her own. Romeo travels parallel to Juliet for shift after shift, jumping from body to body, trying to destroy the very souls she is trying to save. But Romeo is more than just the villain in the background. Even though the story is told from Juliet’s point of view, we get to understand Romeo’s motives and feelings and gain greater insight into his character.
The Bottom Line: This book rocked my socks. It definitely helps to have a good knowledge of Romeo and Juliet, as some of the minor characters from Shakespeare’s play make appearances. So if you’re not familiar with R & J, some of the magic may be lost. But the romance is pure, the writing is top notch, and if the ending doesn’t make you scream, “OH MY GOD!” then you must be dead inside. Juliet Immortal is easily my favorite book of 2011, and definitely a must read.
OFFICIAL RATING: 10/10 (I wanted to give it a 12, but I thought I’d play fair and stay within the rating system.)