Shakespeare’s famous teenage lovers are re-imagined as immortal enemies in this convoluted and occasionally gruesome update of Romeo and Juliet.
As an agent for the ill-defined Ambassadors of Light—angels? gods? vampires? It’s never clear—Juliet Capulet finds and protects new soul mates; serving the Mercenaries of the Apocalypse, Romeo Montague tries to convince one lover to kill the other and gain immortality. The fact that Juliet is also immortal—as evidenced by the title—remains unaddressed, as do the clear downsides of Romeo’s demonic afterlife. Rather than reincarnation, the two temporarily possess humans—Juliet occupies the scarred and scared Ariel Dragland, while Romeo re-animates the fresh corpse of sociopath Dylan Stroud. Their host bodies come with an abundance of emotional baggage, bad friendships and dysfunctional families, all of which they must sort through as they attend high school, search for the soul mates and perform in West Side Story. Though the characters are flat—particularly secondary ones like spoiled Gemma and brooding but noble Ben—readers seeking melodrama may be pleased by the ever-changing couplings and life-or-death situations. Jay (The Locket, 2011, etc.) celebrates the giddy rush of teenage love, but the violence—often bordering on sexual sadism—far outstrips the original tale.An uneven combination of Shakespeare and the supernatural. (Fiction. 14 & up)