Back in 1304 was when the actual Romeo and Juliet story apparently took place. Shakespeare got to talk to Romeo 300 years later to create the play, because Romeo was able to live on. But Romeo mucked it up. In reality, after Juliet drank herself to sleep, Romeo actually killed Juliet. It turns out, he was using her the whole time, collecting her soul to gain a longer life expectancy. But Juliet was able to hang on, Nurse offering her a chance to join a group called the Ambassadors. They apparently stand for love, and they put Juliet on these shifts in other people's bodies right after they died, and they keep bringing her back to life to try to help keep love alive in the world. But she's been stalked by Romeo in all sorts of bodies for years, and this time, she's incorporated the body of a girl named Ariel Dragland who was in an abusive relationship with a guy named Dylan. Now Dylan's also in Romeo's body and is after her. Juliet is tired of these shifts and chases and has given up on ever finding her own true love. Then Romeo says something's different in this shift, and they may have to learn to love each other again to undo a curse that's woken up to set them into an eternity of misery. Sounds great, right? If only...
Whenever I give a one, it usually means there was potential in the story. In fact, all books have storylines that can have big potential. But a one means some of it was in, but very very little. In this case, Juliet Immortal had a terrible prologue but a very good beginning. Romeo ends up right upon Juliet as she wakes and tries to process her new body, and the book smartly writes in the surprise, as well as the chase and the realistic fear of rape clearly shown. When Juliet realizes she's hurt and probably won't be able to outrun Romeo, that's a frightening thought. And when Romeo ends up punching the headlight of the car and it smashes, that's even more horrifying. At that, I thought, "Is Juliet going to be chased by a superstrong murderous psychopath?! How can I clear up my schedule for this?!" Then Stacey Jay writes that Romeo begins singing a creepy tune, but Juliet can't deny he's handsome and the voice is lovely. When I read that, I got a bad feeling about what I was in for. I'm all for accurate descriptions but if I were Juliet, even if Romeo was singing the most beautiful song ever, the fact he would want to murder me would make me not care about his vocal performance. The smoothness would probably scar me. I'm honestly sick of books that have a female protagonist who can't resist thinking of the charms of the annoying or evil boy to the point of being unrealistic.
I then thought I could maybe forgive that again when Jay cuts in to give sufficient detail into the life of Ariel and her mother, Melanie. There are some poor families like them and when Juliet says "I love you" to her mom even after an argument they have, they hug and I was a little emotional about that. Jay was able to develop the mother-daughter relationship without it getting in the way of anything. Apart from that and the very good final few pages, reading this book felt like a worthless assignment.
I'm afraid that despite these good things, the final product ends up as rusty as Romeo's old dagger and as tiring as Friar Lawrence's sleep potion. You know the sinister Romeo from before? Really missed potential. And the Ambassador and Mercenary stuff? Well, here's how it went. I was extremely annoyed when I learned the direction Jay was going to take was Juliet's job in trying to get people to fall in love like a third wheel. Couldn't she have chosen something more fit for this day and age of the YA field? This, this gets in the way of the interesting things like a rockalanche by the crypt entrance. And when I got distracted by the idea of that being how most of the book would be, I couldn't exactly grasp how this world of Ambassadors and Mercenaries functioned. I think I know how it works but I'm not 100% sure at all. I'm not sure why the soul mate process ends up changing, I'm not sure who these Ambassadors are and they really don't do nearly enough by the time the book has run its course, and Juliet's thoughts never made it completely confirmed that what she was worried about was actually a reality.
It's clear Jay also tried to do a parody and criticism of Romeo and Juliet but simultaneously wanted to do her own spin on the play. That ends up negating the effectiveness of the other. I wasn't a fan of how the romance goes, even though it could've been much MUCH worse. It could've been written by Lauren Kate. But listen. I know I said the ending was good, but right before it, it was off-the-charts lazy and wasteful of its buildup. When the page is turned for the next chapter, I really wished at least a couple more punches could've been thrown; something spontaneous, but nope! No payoff. There's a twist that I appreciated, even though I predicted, and come to think of it, has another few unclear questions. That's primarily why I liked the ending. What it took for me to get there was the problem.