Saturday, April 5, 2014

Review: Shatter Me Series

I requested Tahereh Mafi's series from the library without knowing a thing about it. Seriously. All I knew is that the YA bloggers I follow couldn't stop talking about it and the fact that Ignite Me, the final book in the series, was being released soon (it came out on February 4). These bloggers haven't really let me down before (see: Divergent) so I thought I'd give Shatter Me, Unravel Me, and Ignite Me a chance. The first two didn't thrill me but the third book was so much more enjoyable.

Disclaimer: There's a possibility this post won't make a whole lot of sense because I started it right after reading the first two books in the series but before reading the third. Why? Because I knew I had awhile to wait before getting Ignite Me from the library and didn't want to forget what I thought about the first books. So, forgive me if things sound weird!

Like I said, I didn't know a thing about this series before I started reading it. A friend actually asked what they were about after I posted this picture on Instagram:

And I really didn't know what to tell her. All I knew was that a lot of people were loving the series so I thought I'd give it a go. Once I started reading Shatter Me I realized it was dystopian/post-apocalyptic series (can someone explain what, exactly, the difference is between those two. I feel like I should know!). Once I had that figured out, I, unfortunately, started comparing it to similar series - Divergent, Delirium, even The Hunger Games. I say unfortunately because I didn't want to compare them. I wanted these books to stand on their own and wow me with their story. They didn't, not really. All I could think about was how they had to fight the leaders of their messed up world, which included training for the inevitable battle, as well as how a romance played into it, and how all these little things compared to series I had read previously. It's not fair, and I know it (and I've been yelling at everyone who's been saying the Divergent movie is the same as The Hunger Games...ugh, pot meet kettle), but that's what happened. I'm not saying I didn't like this one. I was interested in the story and the characters and I wondered where Mafi was taking things and I can see why other people adore these books.

But wait! I wrote most of that last paragraph before reading Ignite Me. And guys? I fell in love with that book. I think it had a lot to do with Juliette's personality (which I'll get into later) but also just the storyline itself. I was completely invested and read it in one sitting in an afternoon because I just couldn't stop.

I found it interesting that Juliette played the part of the reader, sort of. She had been institutionalized for so long that she had no idea what was going on in the outside world. The reader was equally clueless so Mafi was able to explain details without doing a dreaded info dump. It flowed and whenever the reader was confused, Juliette was also confused and another character would explain the importance of what was going on.

Continuing with Juliette, she was an interesting heroine. She was so timid and unsure of things in the first two books (which might have played a part in why I wasn't loving the books) that it was hard to really root for her. I could understand where she was coming from (being terrified that you can kill someone with a single touch can really screw you up) but she didn't make for a particularly riveting character. That all changed in Ignite Me. Juliette found her spark and her drive and her anger. It was kind of awesome. She also realizes how much power she has and what she can do with it. It was really interesting!

I had a wee bit of trouble with the instalove between Adam and Juliette. I could kind of understand...Juliette had never been able to touch someone before and suddenly she realizes that not only is this (gorgeous) guy interested, but he can touch her. That's some heavy stuff. Plus, they're thrown into an adrenaline-filled situation and, of course, that's going to heighten their feelings. I just wonder why relationships like this have to take place and why they need to happen so freaking quickly. I couldn't always understand why she'd risk her life for Adam and why she'd literally destroy things because she thought he was in danger. Maybe I'm just too old to get the teenager love thing anymore or maybe I just don't understand how these series work, but I wish the relationship had been toned down just a bit. *reads Ignite Me* Ah ha! All these issues were addressed in book three. SO glad. I'm ridiculously happy with the way things turned out. The love triangle (minor spoiler but you should be aware going in that there's a love triangle in this one) was super intense and, I admit, I may have teared up a time or two reading the final book. So many feels. Love it! And Warner? Sa-woon. Fun fact: I know Warner is blonde but I couldn't help but picture Colin O'Donoghue (Hook from Once Upon a Time) as Warner. I think it was the bad boy swagger and the fact that Warner calls Juliette "love" that really did it.

The other thing I didn't love was the way the book was actually written. It almost read like poetry (not my favourite thing in the world). Mafi used so many descriptive words and often used an unconventional structure. She also used strike throughs throughout the series. Just take a look at this picture I snapped from Shatter Me and you should understand what I mean:

Again, I'm not saying this is a bad thing but it just wasn't for me. But...once again, things changed when it came to the third book. The strike throughs were not present. I didn't find the descriptiveness to be annoying...maybe because it was toned down. I don't know why Mafi decided to change things up but my guess is that it was supposed to represent how Juliette had changed and how much stronger she was. No more questioning what she was thinking (ie the strike throughs), she was confident and more straightforward.

As for the story itself, it really did interest me. Mafi wove together a captivating tale and I couldn't help but become invested in the outcome. It also helped that she threw in a few twists that I didn't expect. I don't want to go into too much detail on the plot points because I don't want to give anything away!

So, since I didn't love the first two books of the trilogy, Shatter Me and Unravel Me, but did love the third, Ignite Me, what does that mean for my overall feelings toward the series? I say read them. If you think it sounds interesting, just give them a try. I sort of wish I had been able to read all three back to back to back but maybe it'd be good to read one, read a few others, read the next, read a few others, read the last. Maybe that's what made me love the third book so much...I had had a break from the series. Who knows. I just know that I loved the final book and think that many others would love this series. My next question is if I should hunt down the half stories (Destroy Me and Fracture Me). Have you read the series? What do you think of it? Should I check out those other stories?

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