Friday, February 7, 2014

Book Review: IGNITE ME

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)
Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
Shatter Me #3
February 4, 2014
Harper Collins
416 pages
Genre: Mature Young Adult Dystopia
(contains: strong language, sexual situations)
Source: Personal purchase
Book Blurb:
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"

Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew-about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam-was wrong.

In Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi created a captivating and original story that combined 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." The sequel, Unravel Me, blew readers away with heart-racing twists and turns, and New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia said it was "dangerous, sexy, romantic, and intense." Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and climactic end.
My Review:
Shatter Me and Unravel Me are among my favorite reads, so I was highly anticipating Ignite Me. From the start I was completely locked into the story, soaking up all of Mafi's beautiful writing, absorbed in Juliette's story. Tahereh Mafi once again proved to me that she is a true artist of the written word, entwining beautiful prose with witty banter with lyrical thoughts with true-to-life dialogue. It is always a pleasure to read her words.
STORY: Ignite Me picks up right where Unravel Me left off, throwing us right back into the story and Juliette's mindset. We are faced both with Juliette's struggle and growth to find and be her true self, and we are faced with how our characters will ultimately decide if and/or when they will fight The Reestablishment.

But one thing you must understand is that this story is really more of a study of its main characters and the human condition and centers around Juliette, not necessarily her world at large. While The Reestablishment and Anderson are problems to be solved, they aren't the predominant focus. If you are looking for lots of high intensity action scenes, you will be disappointed. More than anything this is a story of character, watching Juliette grow from novel to novel (as can be seen not just from Juliette's words, but from the writing style progression itself), and looking at characters beyond just the surface level. Going into this story with an open mind and not setting plot expectations will definitely benefit the reader. If you want lots of action and don't want layers of delving into relationship thoughts and drama, then this might not be for you. If I were to guess, I'd say it's 20% action, 80% relationship and character development (and this might be generous).
JULIETTE: This is truly Juliette's story more than anything. We really get to see Juliette complete the growth she started in Shatter Me, becoming the person she ultimately was meant to be, but was too afraid or too oppressed to become before. Mafi writes Juliette's story beautifully, truly fleshing Juliette out. I loved reading about Juliette's personal growth, her desires and wishes, her dreams and goals, her strength and determination. I loved watching her find herself and not letting other people determine who she is. It was refreshing to read about a heroine who found strength and trust in herself without it being put-offish. We also get to see how she has embraced being around her friends, which is amazing considering where she came from. And, yes, we get to see her love life develop, which was also quite amazing (though more mature than the previous books).  
WARNER: While we see Juliette grow and become who she was meant to be, we see Warner reveal who he has always been but no one could see it or he didn't show it. There are many revelations about Warner, and though we got a glimpse of these things in Unravel Me, there is even more to come here. Watching him was both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. Now I'm not going to say Warner was a saint in the past or anything, but I really loved getting to know him and truly seeing his whole self. His interactions with Juliette were particularly powerful and clarifying and beautiful. They really strengthened each other. But there were some other moments with other characters too (avoiding spoilers), that I found quite touching and revealing.
ADAM: If you've read Fracture Me, then you've already had a glimpse into Adam's psyche and where he was at in the beginning of Ignite Me. While I didn't like all the ways Adam was written here, I do understand where Mafi was headed with him, I just thought a few instances were a bit extreme. I understand that not everyone is exactly as we see them, that there are many underlying layers to a person, and no one is perfect or reacts perfectly. With Adam, while more of himself was revealed, I still felt like his character wasn't developed quite as much as Juliette and Warner's and I wish that he'd been fleshed out more. But I still felt pretty resolved with where he ultimately landed.
KENJI: Ah, scene-stealing Kenji! There is nothing not to like about Kenji. I could read an entire series just about him. He is the perfect best friend, partner, ally, cheerleader, support person, comedic relief, reality check, and all-around awesome guy.
LOVE TRIANGLE: Yeah, it's there, kinda sorta. Well, it really just lots of drama. And no, I'm not going to say what happened with this crazy trio. I think a quote is best used here, and this quote can also be used as a warning:
"This is, by far, the craziest sh*t I have ever seen," Kenji says. "I really never would've believed it. Not in a million years."
"It's like a soap opera." Ian nods. "But with worse acting."
"I think it's kind of sweet," Winston says.
ENDING: Avoiding spoilers, I will just say that the final conflict felt rushed to me. With all the relationship stuff, I was hoping for a little more balance when it came to the actual action and climactic conclusion. There were certain things I was hoping to see and certain questions I was hoping to get answered, but not all of them did. But perhaps, like in life, we aren't meant to have the answers to every single question out there. Remembering that it is Juliette's POV reminds me that perhaps all those other things just weren't important to her at this time. The final conflict is quick but satisfactory and I have no complaints of the ultimate conclusion. The end itself, the final pages, were beautiful and lovely and fitting just as I imagined Mafi would have left it.

OVERALL: The Shatter Me series, even with the few issues I had with this final conclusion, still remains amongst my list of series favorites. The combination of Tahereh Mafi's gorgeous writing and her complex and beautiful characters is reason enough to read this series. Ignite Me is a wonderful conclusion, and I truly enjoyed reading it.




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