Juliet Immortal, by Stacey Jay

I set the bar low for fantasy novels—all I ask is that they follow their own rules. I'm perfectly willing to buy “It's magic!” as an explanation for something, but if the magic in question behaves a certain way, it better keep behaving that way throughout the novel. This is why I was unable to forgive the weaknesses of Stacey Jay's Juliet Immortal, despite the fact that I found the book entertaining enough to finish in one sitting: it was plenty readable, but it made no damn sense.

In Jay's version of the Romeo and Juliet romance, Romeo murders Juliet in order to become one of the Mercenaries, immortal beings devoted to the destruction of love. The newly-deceased Juliet, meanwhile, signs up to work for the Ambassadors, a mysterious group that attempts to protect love. Romeo and Juliet clash over the centuries, inhabiting various bodies and attempting to sway the emotions of dozens of ill-fated lovers. When Juliet arrives in the body of a shy, scarred girl named Ariel and gets to know an impossibly kind human boy named Ben, she begins to realize that there might be more to her own romantic destiny than her twisted relationship with Romeo... although she (or at least her host body) might not survive the attentions of her former husband long enough to find out.

The mechanics of Juliet's job as an Ambassador were totally incoherent. She wants to improve Ariel's life, but I never grasped how the whole host body thing worked. If Ariel has no control of her body during Juliet's takeover, what is she supposed to do when she gets her body back? How will she reconcile the events that occurred during Juliet's occupation? Jay offers a few half-baked explanations, but obviously hopes her readers will just buy Juliet as some kind of benign parasite and focus on what's really important: romantic melodrama.

Sadly, I was much more invested in Juliet's relationship with Romeo than her burgeoning romance with Ben. I can't say I rooted for Mr. and Mrs. Montague to reconcile as a romantic pairing, but at least they were meeting on a reasonably level playing field, which made their interactions much more interesting than Juliet (who is supposed to be immortal and inhuman, mind you, in addition to wearing a different girl's body) and Ben's headlong tumble into True Love, which manages to be just as fast-paced and disastrous as Juliet's original romance with Romeo. Clearly, she hasn't learned anything from past mistakes.

Spoiler-ridden Note: If the ending of Juliet Immortal is to be believed, I guess the focus of the next book in this series (Romeo Redeemed) will be on Romeo and Ariel, which—as far as I can tell—should read like a conventional bad-boy-redeemed love story, with the additional plot twist of the bad boy in question actually being a seven-hundred-year-old dude who has spent most of that time carrying a murderous torch for another woman. I don't care how long the book is, it is never going to be long enough to make that anything less than totally gross.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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