2 Mini Book Reviews: IGNITE ME and RESTORE ME by Tahereh Mafi

IGNITE ME (Shatter Me #3) - Tahereh Mafi
Published: 2014 - HarperCollins
Genres: Young adult / dystopia / romance
Pages: 421.
Triggers/Content Advisory: A few graphic sex scenes.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

I liked this book! The writing still isn't my favourite ever, but it's a fun story.

There's not much of a plot, however. It's very character driven, lots and lots of relationship drama, and it's heavy on dialogue and hormones. Not that I mind, personally (it's still entertaining, and teenagers will be teenagers) but it's more focused on characters and relationships than the previous two books were.

In terms of character, I'm glad we get to see a lot more of the secondary cast (Winston, Ian, Alia, Lily, James, Kenji...) and how they contribute to the story. They have amazing chemistry, their banter is awesome, and they're all-round good company. Kenji, especially, is terrific. He's insanely funny - providing much needed comic relief - and he's well developed and human. I loved seeing more of him. His friendship with Juliette is also one of the book's best features; it's so nice to have a guy and girl be best friends when he isn't in love with her and he isn't gay.

My main issue with this story is Adam's character arc. Just to be clear, I'm not Team Adam or Team Warner at this point (I'm Team Juliette, FYI) but I hate, hate, hate how Mafi felt she needed to butcher Adam's character to make the love triangle lean in Warner's favour. She's literally given Adam a personality transplant: he's verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive towards Juliette. Like, what the heck?!

My issue isn't that Juliette's now Team Warner. People fall in and out of love and you don't always stay with your first love; I get that. It happens. But Mafi has completely manipulated the situation and the characters because she's on Warner's side and wants Juliette to be with him. It's like she thinks she needs to make Adam a horrible person so we can hate him and love Warner. It's bad writing. It's bad character development, because it's sloppily done. It's just so darn obvious she prefers Warner. For example, here are a number of the presumably awful things Warner did in the first and second books that are now supposedly justified:

1: Juliette was furious at Warner for making her torture and almost kill a toddler. Well, turns out he didn't. The whole thing was just a simulation, and silly Juliette for not realising it.

2: Juliette was angry that Warner kept her away from his soldiers and isolated her. Turns out, he was doing it "for her own good" because his soldiers were sex-starved would be rapists.

3: Juliette was horrified that Warner killed one of his own soldiers just for stealing some food. Turns out, the soldier beat his wife and abused his family, so Warner's actually did the world a favour here.

4: Juliette was mad that Warner kept her to use as a weapon. Except, he wasn't. He just wanted to study her in case there was a way to save his poor sick Mummy, whose powers were similar to Juliette's.

It's a cop-out.

RESTORE ME (Shatter Me #4) - Tahereh Mafi
Published: March 2018 - HarperCollins.
Genres: Young adult / dystopia / romance
Pages: 440.
Triggers/Content Advisory: A few explicit sex scenes / strong themes of suicide, torture, and PTSD
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Juliette Ferrars thought she'd won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she's still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she's got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

I loved this book! I didn't expect to, given my feelings about the previous ones, but I did.

You know how Mockingjay was a lot darker than the rest of The Hunger Games series? Which made sense, cause it's the last book; it's appropriate that it go out with a bang. Well, Restore Me is the same (although it's not quite the last book in this series, apparently...). It's a lot darker, more intense, more unsettling, and the emotions are overwhelming. The characters ' demons come out to play, and the results are catastrophic. It's painful, heartbreaking, and yet at the same time so beautiful. Mafi brings everything to a breathtaking head. It's stunning. She handles it all so well and the scenes are perfect.

Although I'm not a fan of Warner, I must appreciate his character development. He's well written. I also love Kenji, of course, and Nazeera is a fantastic additional character. She's brilliant.

But Juliette is the highlight. Her character truly became real for me during this book. She's so broken, so hurt, but so realistic and flawed and compelling. I also love how Mafi addresses the fact she's ignorant and naive about how to run things as the new Commander. I mean it's realistic, because she is only 17. And I like that that is acknowledged. She's not immediately competent.

This book also ends on a freaking cliffhanger, which I am not okay with. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS ASAP.

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