Author: Stacey Jay
Genre: YA, retellings, paranormal, romance
Publication Date: October 9, 2012 (Random House – North America)
Source: NetGalley Review Copy
Summary: Seductive companion to the popular Juliet Immortal, in which former lovers—Romeo and Juliet—meet, not as true lovers, but truly as enemies.
Cursed to live out eternity in his rotted corpse, Romeo, known for his ruthless, cutthroat ways, is given the chance to redeem himself by traveling back in time to save the life of Ariel Dragland. Unbeknownst to her, Ariel is important to both the evil Mercenaries and the love-promoting Ambassadors and holds the fate of the world in her hands. Romeo must win her heart and make her believe in love, turning her away from her darker potential before his work is discovered by the Mercenaries. While his seduction begins as yet another lie, it soon becomes his only truth. Romeo vows to protect Ariel from harm, and do whatever it takes to win her heart and soul. But when Ariel is led to believe his love is a deception, she becomes vulnerable to Mercenary manipulation, and her own inner darkness may ultimately rip them apart.
☆: 4/5 stars – a great new spin on an epic classic!
Review: I had a lot of fun with this duology, guys, and I have to say that “Romeo Redeemed” really puts the icing on the cake of it all. Jay’s plot of how one of English literature’s most epic romances was completely mistaken absolutely captured me, and I have to say that this second book in the duology really got to me more than the first. While it wasn’t perfect, it certainly was a great October read.
In this book we have Romeo as our narrator, and he helps to answer all of the questions we were left with at the end of “Juliet Immortal”. We get a huge character expansion of him in this book, including his own personal character arc, which we only got a little taste of in book one. It was great to see this character, and thus, his memory of Verona/the time jump back to Verona get expanded as a world. We also get to see the “real” Ariel (which was GREAT), who has her own character arc, as well as cameos by Benvolio, Ben Luna, Rosaline, the Friar, Nurse, and Juliet. Everyone, no matter how small, got their own arc this time around, and that’s one of the reasons why this book was constructed better than the first. By using the character web of relationships in order to help construct the world of time-jump Verona/memory of Verona, Jay really helped sketched out things so that they were clear, even if they didn’t appear to be at first. The Big Reveals were awesome, and I don’t think that she could have pulled them off without using the relationship web school of world and character building.
Speaking of worldbuilding, we have Verona fleshed out more out in this book compared to book one. We actually experience more events there, including Romeo’s memories along with what happens after Juliet gets sent back to Verona after book one. It’s hard building one world, but Jay has to build two in this duology. Luckily, she was able to set up modern day Solvang really well in book one, so that needed little fine-tuning in this book, so she was able to focus on Verona (and to a smaller extent, Mantua) for the duration of the story. We also got to see how Jay thinks of things – in terms of timelines and parallel universes. That was really awesome, and I’ll get to that more later, but it also helped build on Solvang and a new timeline in Verona where choices there are literally determining the world of Solvang in this book. That’s hard to do, and Jay pulled it off. Props to her for being able to do so.
So, alternate universes and parallel timelines. What if Shakespeare never had written the tale of Romeo and Juliet (because Romeo wasn’t there to tell him about it)? We get that answer in this book. It was SO gratifying to see yet another YA release this year take on the question of alternate timelines/universes, and inserting the quiet idea of M-Theory/multiverse theory into this story. And this works into more of how the Ambassadors and Mercenaries were able to turn Romeo and Juliet further against each other, and how history was about to repeat itself all over again.
Without Juilet’s interference, Ariel was still a great heroine, and I loved how she kind of held her own way more in this book than was kind of obliquely referenced to in book one. And the big reveal as to her real identity at the end…well, it was something that I not only didn’t even see coming (though it was referenced in book one, and I didn’t notice this until afterward!), but it worked, especially when taking the alternate timeline into account. What if Romeo and Juliet had never met? Or rather, what if they’d met, but chosen not to fall in love (if it indeed was love at all)? Now we know the answer. We also know that it’s possible to fall in love not once in one lifetime, but twice, and that gave me the warm fuzzies.
Final verdict? While there were still some flaws and inconsistencies in this book, it still worked really well. If you’ve read book one, you simply have to finish the journey with book two. “Romeo Redeemed” is out now from Random House Children’s in North America, so be sure to check it out – especially if you’re looking for a great Halloween read, this duology will definitely hit all of those creepy notes perfectly.