Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: Ignite Me {Shatter Me #3} by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pub. Date: February 2014
Genre: YA/Sci-fi/Dystopian
Source/Format: Library/Hardcover

From Goodreads: The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.
**This review contains spoilers for Ignite Me, as well as the previous books in the series.

If you've been keeping up with my journey through the Shatter Me series, you know that I've made no secret of my mixed feelings about it. But, boy, did Ignite Me exceed my expectations! From the first page to the last, the book had my attention in a stranglehold. Finally things were moving, and finally Juliette was becoming the character I'd wished she'd been in the earlier books. At first, I found her personality shift a bit jarring; I mean, I know she got shot in the chest and all, but it was still kind of hard for me to reconcile this new, badass, take-on-the-world Juliette with the timid girl she was throughout so much of the previous books. Then again, if I were miraculously brought back to life, maybe I'd be filled with mega-confidence and vengeful zeal, too. In any case, Juliette's change was definitely for the better.

Speaking of personality shifts...Adam. WHAT THE HELL, DUDE? It's completely understandable that he felt hurt and betrayed and all that jazz, but WOW! Possessive, much? He was like the crazy-jealous controlling ex-boyfriend in this book, and if I had any qualms about him and Juliette being over, Tahereh Mafi did a good job of squashing them. It was frightening to see the dark turn Adam's personality took in this book; at times he was downright cruel. Toward the end I half-expected him to betray Juliette and the others out of sheer spite.

While Adam's drastic personality shift was enough to get me to root for Team Warner, I liked that Mafi offered us some stronger evidence for the case against Adam/Juliette. Juliette's relationships with both Adam and Warner went from being focused on physical attraction to the effect each boy had on Juliette her mentally and emotionally:
"I think he wants to pretend I'm the girl who doesn't really speak and spends most of her time being scared. The kind of girl he needs to protect and take care of all the time. I don't know if he likes who I am now. I don't know if he can handle it."
- Juliette on Adam

I like the way I feel about myself when I'm with him...Warner thinks I'm strong and smart and capable and he actually values my opinion. He makes me feel like his equal--like I can accomplish just as much as he can, and more. And if I do something incredible, he's not even surprised. He expects it. He doesn't treat me like I'm some fragile little girl who needs to be protected all the time."
- Juliette on Warner
I've got to hand it to Mafi--she can take a character you would never in a million years think you'd love and make you fall for that same character so hard you get whiplash. I hated Warner at the end of Shatter Me and for much of Unravel Me, and was furious with Juliette for being so easily blinded by her physical attraction to him. And then along came Destroy Me. Everything I thought I knew about Warner, well, unraveled. We got inside his head, learned his true motives and his reasoning, and suddenly, everything that happened in Shatter Me took on a whole different meaning. (I still can't quite forgive him for putting Juliette through the simulation, however. Regardless of the outcome, it was still a pretty sadistic thing to do, letting her believe that the child was real.) But Warner turned out to be interesting; he was neither wholly good nor wholly evil. He was complex. And, yeah, totally swoon-worthy. I mean, come on. Chapter 55? GOOD. LORD.

Ignite Me turned out to be pretty light on the action and surprisingly heavy on Juliette's personal relationships, not only with Adam and Warner but with the other characters as well. Especially Kenji. Oh, Kenji. I adored him. He provided great comic relief, and his lines almost always had me laughing out loud. While I enjoyed the focus on the personal relationships, it did detract a bit from the action in the story. So much of the last third of the book was spent on Juliette and Warner's relationship that the final battle seemed to come out of nowhere, and it felt rushed. There was a bit of struggle between Juliette and Anderson, but in the end it seemed like she won far too easily. I would have liked to see a more challenging fight. As for the final pages, I can't believe we're left hanging like that! There was so much more story potential and I had so many questions: How is Juliette going to become the new leader? Will there be backlash? What of the other sectors? What is going on in the rest of the world? And just how was Anderson able to create the Reestablishment to begin with? I NEED ANSWERS, TAHEREH!

And so ends my journey with the Shatter Me series. Verdict: I can say without a doubt now that I am most definitely a fan.

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