“Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)” by Tahereh Mafi

IGNITE ME (SHATTER ME #3)Ignite Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Read Date: 4 February 2014
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

One day I might break
One day I might break free

Nothing will ever be the same.

The fate of Omega Point is unknown. Everyone Juliette has ever cared about could be dead. The war could be over before it ever really began.

Juliette is the only one standing in The Reestablishment’s way. She knows that if she’s going to survive, The Reestablishment cannot.

But to take down The Reestablishment and the man who very nearly killed her, Juliette will need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together to bring down their enemy, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew—about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam—was wrong.

 
*SPOILER WARNING FOR ALL THREE NOVELS AND TWO NOVELLAS IN THIS SERIES*

We’ve come, at last, to the end of the “Shatter Me” series. So how did your predictions fare? 😉

For the record, if I had to choose teams, I’d be on Team Juliette. But if I had to pick between our two leading men, then I pick Aaron; I like him so much I just had to be on first-name terms with him, see? 😛

I have been very vocal about liking him since “Destroy Me”, but I wasn’t confident about his prospects in the series from the start. I’ve been afflicted with Second Lead Syndrome, and I was almost convinced until “Unravel Me” that Warner was going to do something really bad or even die, and that Adam will win Juliette. Or, based on the “Ignite Me” excerpt that came out, Juliette would be so eager to avenge her Omega Point friends that she would never be able to forgive Warner.

I have never been more happy to be proven wrong.

However, despite my happiness as a shipper, I still had some issues with this book.

…I tuck my friends in my heart and revenge, I think, has never looked so sweet.

Between the end of “Unravel Me” and the very beginning of “Ignite Me”, Juliette finally realized that she wanted to fight. She wanted revenge on Anderson for destroying Omega Point and for (as she was led to believe) killing all of her friends. This was understandable, especially after her own brush with death. But I felt that the transition between whiny, mopey Juliette and bent-on-revenge Juliette was a little too abrupt, especially after the slow character development across 2 books. I anticipated the change and I welcomed it, of course, and thankfully this didn’t bother me for the rest of the story…unlike Juliette’s next epiphany.

I’ve always known, deep down, who should be leading this resistance. I’ve felt it quietly for some time now, always too scared to bring the words to my lips. Someone who’s got nothing left to lose and everything to gain. Someone no longer afraid of anyone. Not Castle. Not Kenji. Not Adam. Not even Warner. It should be me.

Really, Juliette? Really? This certainly wasn’t something that I saw in “Unravel Me”. I feel that while she might not readily admit it as she says, something should have at least been evident in her interactions with the people at Omega Point, but all she ever did was whine or mope.

This is the part that was most difficult for me to swallow, to be honest. It’s not that I am underestimating Juliette, but I don’t think she’s any more suited to being the leader than Kenji or Adam or Castle. Sure she’s managed to rally a bunch of soldiers to her side (and who wouldn’t if the person enticing you to rebellion had superpowers?) along with the other Omega Pointers, but…was this really the extent of the rebellion?

Okay, hrmmm. I think the disconnect for me was how small the scale of this part of the story was, and therefore of Juliette’s “influence” as the so-called leader. All she really did was “lead” the remaining Omega Pointers, but I think it may have been Warner’s efforts that made sure everyone on Sector 45 stayed on board the “Rebel Ship”. And then it was just too easy to kill Anderson. Their little plan worked flawlessly, but the entire sequence did not feel as epic as I would have wanted.

And then there’s Juliette’s decision that after leading the rebellion, she will assume the position of Supreme Commander. I can understand why Warner winced and everything, and dude, he certainly should’ve put up more of a fight! It’s one thing to lead an uprising, but taking over an entire empire after toppling the Emperor is a different thing altogether, and takes a different kind of skill. As Brandon Sanderson’s “Steelheart” teaches us, you cannot lead a nation by superpowers and fear alone. Why didn’t any of the characters question Juliette on this?!

“What about me?” he demands. “What about our relationship? When did that stop being enough for you?”

Did you hear that? That is the sound of a character essentially being assassinated.

When readers suspected that “Fracture Me” was the beginning of the end of the Warner/Juliette/Adam love triangle, I also harbored the same suspicions. But I did not expect how Adam turned out.

Mafi said in her latest interview that she has known who Juliette would end up with since the end of “Shatter Me”, and she wrote toward that quite effectively. So effectively that I feel she ran Adam over in the process. He was so irritating, so unbearable, that I was rooting for everyone to leave him behind. He certainly had every right to be angry, but after a couple of shouting matches, I just felt, like Juliette did, that this wasn’t the Adam we knew anymore.

There will, of course, be readers who will not be bothered by this at all. But one of my pet peeves as a Second Lead Syndrome sufferer is how some writers will resort to making the second lead so unlikable that the protagonist would have no choice but to hate him/her and run into the lead characters’ arms. The ironic thing is that Juliette and Kenji talked about “falling in love with someone by default” at length when they were discussing Adam. Juliette did not love Warner by default, no; there was no need to because she was already falling for him despite everything, so that was why I was so disappointed by how Mafi decided Adam must change as a character. Adam’s angst was understandable in “Unravel Me” and “Fracture Me”, but I think he just went too far in this book, and I don’t feel it was necessary. Sure, war changes people, but… *sigh* Adam tired me out as a character so much.

“I am the same man I’ve always been and I have never tried to be different. You have misunderstood me, Juliette. You’ve judged me, you’ve perceived me to be something I am not, but that is no fault of mine. I have not changed, and I will not change—”

And thank Mafi Warner did not change. I’ve always liked his brutal honesty, although I feel like he has become so transparent in this book that he lost some of the mysteriousness he had in the first two books that made him so interesting to me.

What I found strange about his development was how easily he went along with the rebellion plan and how he never questioned it. I feel like being a leader and a strategist should have been second nature to him that he would have at least, at some point, questioned if not opposed parts of the plan.

But then again, the plan worked out so flawlessly, right? Maybe he already knew the war was a sure thing that there was no point in making a fuss. Because you can’t make me believe he will just say yes to everything just because he loves Juliette–not if the stakes were that high. 😛

One last thing about Mafi’s writing style. I do think she really improved as a writer since “Shatter Me”. Her prose feels more polished than the first two books, and you can really see the way Juliette develops based on her narrative voice.

I can also feel how much she wanted Juliette to have a great character arc that will distinguish her as one of the stronger heroines in YA — someone who is courageous, someone who is in command of herself, someone who is heroic, someone with conviction, and a girl who will not settle for being defined by her relationships. Sometimes Mafi succeeds, sometimes she barely wings it, and sometimes everything seems forced. But I’m sure she will improve on this later on as she writes more books.

Despite all of the above, which all seem a bit negative, I enjoyed reading the book. Mafi can still deliver all the feels with the best of them, and I think fans of the series will deem this a good ending.

Thank Mafi for Kenji and his humor. I don’t know what I would have done if he got killed in “Unravel Me” and was not in this book—I will violently flip tables, maybe.

(may be continued…)

❆ ❆ ❆
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