Title: Ignite Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genres: Speculative Fiction/Dystopian
Review Copy: Purchased
Availability: On Shelves now
Summary: 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. (Via Goodreads)
Review: Sigh. Another series ending and another disappointment. Maybe I had built up too much in my head, or maybe I had hoped for a meaningful conclusion, but either way, I was less than thrilled by the final book of Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series. This installment focused less on the rebellion and more on the developing romance between Juliette and Warner. Maybe because Warner is one of my least favorite characters that I didn’t enjoy the direction this book took, or that Adam seemed to be acting completely out of character for the entire book (though Juliette does comment on it), I just felt like this last book was all about the “love triangle” and not about Juliette becoming free from the Reestablishment. I felt like Mafi wanted Ignite Me to go in a certain direction and forced that direction by having the reader (via Juliette) learn that events from previous books were not what they seemed to be. I feel like I was manipulated to like Warner, and have him be the best romantic lead ever, when in reality, despite learning more about him, he still reads, at least to me, as an ass. I know we are creatures made from our surroundings, but some of the things Warner does, even when you can see his rationalization, makes him still a jerk. I just don’t like him and as the book progressed, my enjoyment of the story continued to decline. I was just not feeling the romance angle of the story, and it seemed to occupy about 90% of the plot! I liked Adam from the beginning, and granted because Juliette has changed so much that she outgrew their relationship, his behavior towards her throughout the book was appalling. The way Mafi wrote him, he was a completely different character. I kept waiting for an apology or for some explanation as to why he was acting so strange, but it never came. To me, the decision to make Adam so crazy and never explain it is a loose end that Mafi needs to wrap up somewhere. Speaking of loose ends, I don’t feel like the story is finished. As I was reading, I was noticing my remaining pages were getting low, but there was still so much more story, at least I felt, to go. The novel just kind of ends. I would have liked an epilogue or something – just to know what happened after. Maybe Mafi has more hiding up her sleeve, but I know that also added to my dissatisfaction with the novel.
On the plus side, Mafi’s writing is as beautiful as ever. So many wonderful passages written like poetry and she is able to wield stream-of-consciousness writing like a master swordsman; her prose was made me fall in love with the series in the first place. As Juliette became more sane, the style of the writing changed, but in Ignite Me, there is a wonderful balance. There is one chapter that after I read it, I had to put the book down and just linger in the beauty of the language, the exquisite metaphor used. Mafi also makes a daring choice in one chapter, a moment between Warner and Juliette that I hadn’t seen in a YA book before, and I applaud her for it. I feel like in that instance Mafi didn’t insult her readers and beautifully dealt with an aspect of relationships that other YA books work hard to avoid. It was handled in a way only Mafi can do and allowed the reader to truly feel how Juliette would be able to be so daring.
Recommendation: I don’t want to say wait a while, but I don’t say read it now. However, if you’re a fan of the series, you’ve probably already read it. However, Juliette is a good character and her growth throughout the series is beautifully done. If you are in the mood for reading about a young lady discovering her self-worth and becoming empowered, the Shatter Me series is a good place to start.