by Stacey Jay
Published by Delacorte BFYR
on October 9, 2012
Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher on NetGalley. Read my FTC disclosure here.
My summary: Romeo Redeemed is the sequel to Juliet Immortal, which I loved. Juliet Immortal reworks the Shakespearean play by imagining that Romeo, taken in by the evil Mercenaries of the Apocalypse, actually murdered Juliet in order to achieve immortality for himself. Poor Juliet is then claimed by the Ambassadors of Light. For centuries, she and Romeo are reincarnated into other bodies by their respective groups, so that they can battle for souls. Juliet must find and protect true soulmates, while Romeo tries to convince those same soulmates to kill one another. As Juliet Immortal opens, Romeo and Juliet find themselves reincarnated into the bodies of two teenagers at the same high school, and their battle resumes anew.
It's hard to summarize Romeo Redeemed without Juliet Immortal spoilers, but I'm up to the challenge! Romeo is back with a new mission -- in the body of Dylan Stroud, he must go back in time to the moment just before the events of Juliet Immortal and save the life of Ariel Dragland, the troubled girl whose body Juliet was reincarnated into in the first book. At first, Romeo/Dylan is only romancing Ariel to save himself, but as he begins to fall in love, he must protect her from the manipulations of the evil Mercenaries.
My take: Many YA stories have drawn on the whole Romeo and Juliet tradition of tragic, forbidden teenage love. I liked Juliet Immortal's creative remix of the Romeo and Juliet story and was eager to read this sequel. Romeo Redeemed is a more ambitious book than its predecessor. Romeo Redeemed uses three points of view rather than two, plays with parallel universe theory, and delves even deeper into the play that inspired it.
Juliet Immortal did a very good job of making the reader detest Romeo and I liked the way that this book slowly turns those feelings around. Ariel, scarred as a child, has a whole mass of insecurities and issues, and doesn't make Romeo/Dylan's job very easy. Her fragility makes her the perfect target for the manipulations of the Mercenaries.
I was fairly confused about the whole Mercenary/Ambassador thing in Juliet Immortal, and I didn't understand it any better in Romeo Redeemed. (In this review, Heidi @ Bunbury in the Stacks explains the whole thing very well.)
Given the triple POVs and the two separate storylines, there's also a lot crammed into this book. One major plot point that isn't even shown in real time -- it's just related through dialogue -- and that made the last third of the book feel a little rushed to me.
Those small complaints aside, there's a fantastic twist at the end that neatly ties everything together -- a twist I didn't see coming at all. The way that Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed take the very familiar story of Romeo and Juliet apart, mix it up and then cleverly put it all back together was very impressive. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books, as they play on some very familiar YA tropes in a way that's really fresh and creative. If you love tangled love stories and retellings, definitely check these books out.