February 14, 2014

REVIEW: Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3), by Tahereh Mafi
Published February 4, 2014
Harper Collins
hardback, purchased
YA dystopian romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  2 STARS

(From Goodreads)
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.

It took me several days to congeal my thoughts about Ignite Me into something that I could actually put into words. My review that follows is not one I normally would write, in that, it’s rife with spoilers. I do apologize for that. To be honest, the writing of this review is going to be somewhat cathartic for me, and I’m sorry that you who haven’t read it yet, are on the receiving end of my word vomit. 

I will say that Tahereh Mafi is an absolutely beautiful writer. It flows and ebbs like water and she has the ability to elicit real emotion from me without much apparent effort. Her use of symbolism is unmatched. And, something new that I discovered about her – this woman knows how to write romance. Face-fanning, lady-bit tingling, jelly-legged romance. It’s good stuff.

"I will be here every night," he whispers, his words so soft, so tortured, "to keep you warm. I will kiss you until I can't keep my eyes open."

And, seriously, the covers of all her books in the Shatter Me series are orgasms for my eyes. They are the most beautiful series covers I’ve ever seen. 

So, on to the spoilers. If you haven’t read Ignite Me, you will want to stop now. 

Seriously – stop reading if you don’t want to know who Juliette picked. 

Last warning. 

My feelings on whether I “liked” or “did not like” Ignite Me are not wrapped up in whether my team won or lost. It’s not nearly as simplistic as that, although some might dispute that. Certainly, I’ll be the first one to admit that I wish Juliette had chosen the other guy, and that fact does color my overall opinion of the book to some degree. How could it not? 

We, as book fans, become so involved in our favorite characters’ lives that we create Twitter handles and websites dedicated to them. We passionately advocate for our favorite crushes and couples in tournaments and create badges and buttons announcing our allegiances for our blogs and Facebook pages. Of course the outcome of love triangles are going to affect our overall impressions of the books in which they are found, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

I have always said that the worst way out of a love triangle is to kill off one of the choices. And, I realized after finishing Ignite Me that that is exactly what Mafi did here. Granted, both Adam and Warner were physically alive in the end. But, all the qualities that made up the Adam that was introduced to us in Shatter Me died a fiery, horrible death over the course of this 408-page book, and frankly, it makes me more angry than anything else. 

Adam captured my heart from the very beginning. The story of how this boy helped this girl and became her only friend when no one else would dare brought tears to my eyes. Then, after spending years trying to find her, he risks everything to free her from both her physical and mental prison. He loved her practically his whole life, and the greatest gift was when he heard that her love was returned. He naturally wanted to protect her from all the bad scary things (love kinda makes you want to do that), but he also believed that she could be so much more. 

That man was nowhere to be found in Ignite Me.

I appreciate that Juliette wanted to stop hiding and start living. But, didn’t she do that the second she jumped out of her bedroom window with Adam? Wasn’t she standing up for herself when she pointed that gun in Kenji’s face while in Adam’s apartment? Didn’t she take charge of her life when she made the decision to take Adam and James to Omega Point in the first place? And, didn’t Adam support her and go along with it all? 

The Adam that was presented to us in Ignite Me was bitter, cold and hateful. He was indecisive and angry. It was almost as if Mafi was trying to force her choice down my throat. I hate to break it to her, but I could’ve gotten behind her decision to put Juliette with Warner if she had given me a good reason why. But, vilifying and demonizing Adam in order to paint a more radical contrast between he and the now angelic Warner felt so wrong to me. If two characters are going to completely switch personalities over the course of a series, I want a solid reason why, and unrequited love isn’t one. Not for these two guys. 

In the end, I just didn’t believe any of it. 

Sadly, if you put all the relationship drama aside, there isn’t much left in Ignite Me. Whereas Shatter Me and Unravel Me focused a lot on the development of Juliette’s powers and how they might take down the Reestablishment, Ignite Me was all angst and guilt and hormones. There was very little said about Juliette’s, Warner’s and Adam’s powers, and almost nothing about the secondary characters’ powers (so little, in fact, that I forgot what they were until about 85% through). 

All three books were leading up to the final showdown between Juliette and Anderson. We didn’t even see Anderson until the final pages of the book. And, then it was over. Just like that. All the waiting and anticipation was over so fast, and I literally said out loud, “So, that’s it then?”  I wanted so much more! I wanted to know what was beyond Sector 45 and how the destruction of it and Anderson was going to affect the rest of the country. Is there even a country? What does the world look like? The world-building has always been a little weak for my liking, and I was thinking we’d finally fill in those holes in Ignite Me. 

Not so. 

Now that it’s all said and done and I’ve had some time to reflect on my true feelings regarding Ignite Me, I realize that I just feel cheated. What I thought was the whole point (taking down the leader of the regime that has been oppressing people for years) ended up being buried amid the unrealistic destruction of one character loved by many and the unbelievable elevation of another to one who could do absolutely nothing wrong. The shaping of Juliette’s budding abilities and personality was squashed by her constant indecision in the “I love him, I love him not” game.

Or, maybe, I missed the point entirely.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I haven't read this series, so I just took a peek at your review. I am sorry to hear it wasn't a great fit for you. :(