Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release: February 4th 2014
Genre: Dystopia, Paranormal, YA
#3 in the Shatter Me trilogy
Series: Shatter Me (#1), Unravel Me (#2)
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.
If I had to rate this purely by how much I'm invested in this series, it'd be a solid five stars. Seldom have I been so emotionally invested into a book series, but honestly... quality-wise, and objectively speaking, these books are seriously lacking finesse.
The only thing that makes me like this series so much (besides Warner, of course), is the fact that Juliette doesn't end up with the first guy in this love triangle. No, for once, she recognizes she doesn't love Adam, and chooses with whom to end up, proving the "first love true love" thingy wrong. Because this is how it's in real life, you probably won't stay with your first love, and it's unrealistic to portray anything else. It's something I see so, so rarely in books and movies and TV shows, I'm always happy when I do see it. No, not happy, I'm overjoyed. It's the reason why I love Teen Wolf, and Allisaac, so much as well.
Speaking of which, want to know something really funny? When the clock struck midnight here in Germany, I immediately went and bought this on my kindle, since my hardcover copy is scheduled to arrive sometime in the next two weeks, which was way too long for me. Whoopsie. And, well, when I read Chapter fifty-five, the one where ... you know what happens between (spoilers) Warner and Juliette, thirty minutes later another OTP of mine (yeah, Allisaac) became officially canon as well. It was like Christmas came early.
And oh yeah, I read the whole night. Up until four in the morning, when I had to watch the new Teen Wolf episode obviously, and let me tell you, it was all worth it. I got up to 80% in Ignite Me and just finished as soon as I woke up. I haven't eaten breakfast yet, I want to write this review first.
I'll start off with the things I liked as well, besides the whole realistic relationship thing. And that would be the characterization of Juliette. She's never going to be one of my favorites, but she's finally taking matters into her own hands, standing up for herself and glowering at everyone who's standing in her way. I was like "YES," and pumped my fist into the air, I was so glad she finally shed her coward, naive, silly little girl skin and put on some big girl pants. She annoyed me up to no end in both of the first two installments, but in this one, I finally came around to liking her. This is still too late for her to finally get some courage, but still. Better late than never, right?
The second one would be Kenji and Juliette's friendship, 100% platonic and nothing more. Another very realistic thing about this book, that boy and girl can be just best friends and not fall in love with each other, which a lot of authors seem to be forgetting about. Like, seriously, a lot. My own very, very best friend whom I tell everything and feel most comfortable with is a guy too, sure I got my female best friends too, but my closest confidante is definitely him, and I see so little wholly platonic friendships between guys and girls in YA literature it's such a nice thing to see it for once. And on top of that, I also enjoyed their witty banter and interactions a lot, they're only topped on my favorite friendships list by Aria and Roar from Under The Never Sky.
Another thing I have to mention is Mafi's writing. It's been teetering on the edge of uncomfortable and purple prose for the whole duration of this trilogy, but in this installment, she finally managed to make it sound very beautiful and nice, she just finally managed to make it work. I don't have the nagging feeling anymore that she just strung some words together that didn't really make sense, hoping they'd sound quirky and melodic. Which they mostly didn't, her writing seemed just strange, up until now. I think, generally, Mafi has taken a huge step forward with this book, there wasn't even kissing and making out up until about 60%! That's a lot of progress.
But. But. As much as I'd like to praise the book, it's still, like I said, deficient in a lot of things. First of all, that'd be ... I don't know how to say this, but maybe credibility? It's like she's done a complete 180, and not only in the positive direction, but also for the worse. Suddenly, Warner is this extremely nice guy that's just misunderstood, and Adam is a massive douchebag. Warner was willing to let an innocent toddler die, to torture Juliette? Nah, it was just a simulation. That guy he shot in front of everyone? He beat his wife, his children, and was an all around despicable man. Warner didn't want to turn Juliette into a weapon, that was just an excuse to study her because he was trying to find a cure for his mother, whom he loves so much. And so on, and so on, after almost two books depicting Warner as evil incarnate, a madman that likes to torture and kill for the fun of it, and Juliette saying countless times how much she detests and hates him, suddenly she's telling him she loves him. Uhh, yeah.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm still standing with what I said: I love that Juliette (spoiler, although I think by now we all have guessed) ends up with Warner in the end, and I love Warner himself (more on that later), but making all of these excuses for him and his behavior just seemed like a last-minute attempt to make the reader like him more, to make him redeemable, and in my honest opinion, it didn't quite work. I'm not the best judge because I've already believed in Warner's goodness prior to all this, but still ... I'm sure a lot of others are going to agree with me on this, because it did feel a bit out of left field.
Second of all, there's this issue with plot. Hmm, plot. Juliette is making all these speeches about how she'll take down The Reestablishment, kill Anderson and lead the world to new greatness, but the final battle happens within ... oh yeah, the last 10% of the book. The last 10%, I'm not fucking kidding. That's when the battle starts, that's when Juliette tracks him down and does what she has to. Before that, all that's happened was a bit of shuffling around locations and training. That's ... it. I'm kind of astonished myself right now, because I did fly through this. I'm not complaining per se, because yeah, I'm guilty of enjoying it, but seriously ... the lack of actual plot is truly shocking. The whole time it's just character development (a bit), and the characters talking about their relationships with each other. It's really not much more than that.
But yeah (man this review is gonna take forever), in terms of character development, I did quite like this. I already mentioned that Juliette is finally starting to grow up, which was a big part of Ignite Me, but we also get a bit of how Kenji and Adam are struggling and coming to terms with how things are right now. Kenji trying to be the comedic relief in these bleak times but actually falling apart himself, Adam being furious and having all this bottled-up anger inside of him, it was nice seeing them. Although the same argument between Adam and Juliette about their relationship did get old after a while, too. The star, of course, was again Warner, because he's getting a lot more characterization than before, we see more and more sides of him every chapter and I think he is an ingenious character. So unapologetic for his behavior and attitude, not willing to change anything about him just to get others to like him more. It struck something in me, I mean yeah, I've always been a big fan of him, but he's very greatly done, so ... can you blame me?
FINAL VERDICT: A very nice, solid last installment, wrapping the trilogy up satisfactorily, although the ending was a bit of an open one and seemed a little hacked off, but ... all in all, I'm pleased. I never would have thought, after my huge dislike of the first book, that I'd ever end up actually caring about this series so much in the end. Well done, Mafi, catching me in your trap this way.
And if you have read this review up until now, you, my friend, are awesome and deserve all the good in the world.