This review and others are posted at Inspiring Insomnia.
I think I can safely say now that I will not read another book by Tahereh Mafi. Ignite Me was the worst of this series, even though it had stiff competition from Unravel Me. Let’s start off with some of this bizarre narration from Juliette:
“My tongue is dust. My teeth have crumbled away.”
“I am a pile of bones on the floor and no one knows it but me.”
I have no idea what these lines mean, but I think that Mafi has a thing for decaying body parts.
Juliette became more bearable in this book, and if you read these books as they were released, her transformation might make some sense. But I read Unravel Me and Ignite Me back to back, and there was no way to escape how abruptly she changed from a boy-crazy basket case to a calm, cool, collected military commander. It was as though Mafi flicked a switch, and we are supposed to forget every bit of groundwork Mafi laid out for Juliette’s character in the first two books.
As unrealistic as Juliette’s transformation was, it was nowhere near as far-fetched as Warner’s and Adam’s. Warner started out as an unmitigated monster. In Unravel Me, his sociopathic side was dialed back until he was merely an obsessive, stalker-ish, sarcastic creep. In Ignite Me his transformation is complete, as he has turned into a groveling and emotionally manipulative mess. He essentially took over the drama queen role that Juliette filled in Unravel Me. Don’t believe me? Here are a couple of lines from Warner:
“Please” – he’s begging now – “for the love of God, Juliette, I have lost my dignity-”
“Because I am afraid,” he finally says, voice shaking, “that your friendship would be the end of me.”
OK, so now Warner is full of Juliette-type histrionics, but…he was awful in Shatter Me, wasn’t he? Not so fast! Mafi is going to wave her magic wand over all of his sick behavior, giving Warner a chance to explain everything away with a chuckle. When Juliette challenges him, Warner’s poor feelings are hurt because Juliette should have KNOWN that this whackjob was really trying to help her while he was torturing her. Any bit of respect that Juliette managed to get from me by somewhat pulling herself together flew out the window.
It was Adam, though, who really got the shaft in Ignite Me. Mafi was so determined to shove Adam out of the ghastly love triangle that she created that she had him behaving in ways that completely contradict everything about his character. This nice, caring guy became bitter and nasty. Why was there a love triangle in the first place (especially one as foul as this?) Mafi seemed to want to make clear that this Adam is the REAL Adam, and Juliette was too dumb, blind, desperate, or whatever to see his true colors.
Kenji, as usual, is the voice of reason, and his comment about Adam expresses everything I’m thinking about all of the main characters: “He’s so freaking emotional. Everything is such a big deal to him. He can’t just let things go. He can’t just be cool and get on with his life.” And now here I am, letting this series go and moving onto books that don’t glamorize obsessive, abusive relationships.