Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay
Delacorte Press, 2012, 362 pages
YA Classic-Remake Fantasy
Removed to a universe different from the original novel and with a chance to be redeemed through a final act of love, Romeo Montague — reincarnated into the body of eighteen-year-old Dylan — is determined to convince California native Ariel to love him. With the forces of good and evil watching his every move, Romeo has little time and space for error. Full of guilt for a past tainted with acts of malice and hate, Romeo struggles to find the balance of seeking forgiveness and doing the right thing.
As many Goodreads reviews indicate, the plot of Romeo Redeemed ignores a number of continuity points as a sequel of Juliet Immortal. While this doesn’t have a large effect on the quality of the book by itself, the sequel doesn’t provide quite enough information to be read as a standalone. Because it must be read as the second part of Juliet Immortal, the continuity errors are glaring and, in some ways, make the plot more confusing than necessary. Many of the questions readers are left with at the end of Juliet Immortal show promise in being answered in Romeo Redeemed. However, many of these questions are left unanswered or are completely disregarded as plot points with the change in plot history according to the sequel.
As a character, Romeo remains fairly consistent. He is neither fully “good” nor fully “evil,” allowing the fantasy plot to ground itself in reality. As well-rounded as Romeo is, other characters’ fullness seem to suffer as a result. Characters who were fully rounded in the alternate universe of the original novel are reduced to secondary and tertiary characters, existing only to push the plot forward with undeveloped or ignored motives of their own. Ariel and Romeo spend the vast majority of the novel interacting with only each other and, when other characters do make an appearance, it is for the plot’s sake, not character development. Gemma, for example, is provided with compelling new information for the reader, yet her purpose in the novel remains sadly underdeveloped. Ariel’s relationship with her mother, too, is nearly ignored in this alternate-universe sequel. Although this relationship was explored at length in the original, the difference circumstances in the sequel warrant another go at it.
Jay’s writing style is generally not distracting and unremarkable. The language does its job in telling the story and promotes enough flourish of vocabulary so as to keep the reader interested without alienating the reader with overly-flowery language. Dialogue in some parts did not seem to fit the characters or the era well, though it was a small issue that could easily be overlooked or even explained in some instances.