Scoring the Book: “Ignite Me”

This song reminded me a lot of Aaron (Warner) in the final book of Tahereh Mafi’s “Shatter Me” series, “Ignite Me”.


 
“You feel your heart beat loudest when it’s breaking
You and I both know our fatal flaws
We both know that love is what you make it
I want you
All or nothing at all”

♫ “All or Nothing at All” by Switchfoot (“Fading West”, 2014)

“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? 😉 Continue reading

2013 Retrospective: Books

This is so late. 😦 Work has been very hectic lately, what with my new responsibilities and management changes in the company. But I finally have a couple of hours to spare to get more pending blog posts out of the way.

★ ★ ★

Actually, I already posted a list of my favorite books of 2013 via my GMA News Online year-ender: ‘Daig mo pa ang telenovela’ award and more for the best books in 2013.

I read a few more books that didn’t make that list, though. Some were not released in 2013 either. But for what it’s worth, here are a few more honorable mentions:

  1. “The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)” by Maggie Stiefvater – I love Maggie Stiefvater because her writing is so evocative and she creates very interesting characters. “The Raven Boys”, the first book in this new series, was good, but “The Dream Thieves” is even better. This one has more magic, more action, more character development (particularly for Ronan), and some forward momentum in the romance department. If “The Scorpio Races” deserves an award for the Most Romantic Non-I-Love-You Confession, this one deserves the Most Romantic Non-Kiss Award.
  2. “Unseen Moon” by Eliza Victoria – Horror and suspense are not my favorite genres, but Victoria really impressed me with this collection of short stories, and this made me a fan of her writing. Favorite stories: “The Viewless Dark”, “The Ghosts of Sinagtala” (not recommended for scaredy-cats), and “December”.
  3. “Pacific Rims” by Rafe Bartholomew – This was published a few years ago, but it’s relevant again this year because of Bartholomew’s mini-series in the National Geographic Channel called “Pinoy Hoops”. But hey, really, the book will always be relevant, I think, because we will probably always be a basketball-crazy nation. Bartholomew’s writing is also very engaging, and his anecdotes are fun to read, whether you are a basketball fan or not. He’s one of the authors I would really love to meet sometime.
  4. “Monstress” by Lysley Tenorio – I surprised myself by reading a lot of Filipiniana this year, and several of them focus on the immigrant experience. What stands-out about “Monstress” is the hints of secret histories and a very subtle touch of fantasy that frame what may otherwise just have been run-of-the-mill stories about being a Filipino living in another country.
  5. Kresley Cole’s “Immortals After Dark” series – This probably deserves a separate blog post. 🙂

Here’s a list of the other titles I read last year, as listed in Goodreads: click! My 2013 Goodreads Reading Challenge target was 52 titles, which I thankfully passed and even exceeded, thanks to my impromptu Crazy Kresley Cole Holiday Readathon (more on that later). My 2014 target is still 52 titles because I don’t trust myself to not get into another reading slump.

I also met a lot of authors this year (Thank you, National Book Store!), some of whom, I interviewed and wrote about.

Author Mina V. Esguerra also invited me to participate in the audio commentary of her “Interim Goddess of Love” trilogy, which is really good, you guys, so read them! 😉

It looks like 2014 will be another busy Bookworm Year, beginning with the author visits of Gayle Forman and Mitch Albom.

This year, I hope to be able to do more concrete things to further my reading advocacy. Back in 2012, when I wrote about a public high school book club’s challenges, I was thankful that that story paved the way for an NGO to donate books to the school. I really hope I will be able to do something more.

Happy new year, bookish friends! \(^o^)/

“Fracture Me (Shatter Me #2.5)” by Tahereh Mafi

Fracture MeFRACTURE ME (SHATTER ME #2.5)
Author:
Tahereh Mafi
Read Date: 4 January 2014
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In this electrifying sixty-page companion novella to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, discover the fate of the Omega Point rebels as they go up against The Reestablishment. Set during and soon after the final moments of Unravel Me, Fracture Me is told from Adam’s perspective.

As Omega Point prepares to launch an all-out assault on The Reestablishment soldiers stationed in Sector 45, Adam’s focus couldn’t be further from the upcoming battle. He’s reeling from his breakup with Juliette, scared for his best friend’s life, and as concerned as ever for his brother James’s safety. And just as Adam begins to wonder if this life is really for him, the alarms sound. It’s time for war.

On the battlefield, it seems like the odds are in their favor—but taking down Warner, Adam’s newly discovered half brother, won’t be that easy. The Reestablishment can’t tolerate a rebellion, and they’ll do anything to crush the resistance . . . including killing everyone Adam has ever cared about.

Even if I don’t really like him, it’s nice to read about Adam’s point of view during this crucial point in the story, especially after we have read Warner’s in Book 1.5 as well.

I understood his doubts and indecision and I can sympathize with him, but he very well knew, just like Kenji did, how urgent the situation was for the inhabitants of Omega Point and for Juliette. It’s like he learned nothing from being a soldier. Unfortunately, this doesn’t endear Adam to me. In fact, this knocks him a few more notches down on my slate.

This is a good arc for his character, though. I just hope Tahereh Mafi has something interesting planned for him in the last book.

I’m excited for “Ignite Me”! I will be rooting for Kenji. 😛

And of course, Juliette, too.

And I hope Warner surprises me. Like on a J.J. Abrams level of surprise.

(20140109) EDITED TO ADD: I went around Goodreads and other blogs to read other reviews after I posted this, and many people commented about being unhappy that Adam’s battle became a family vs. Juliette one, and that this feels like the beginning of Mafi destroying the Adam / Juliette / Warner love triangle.

I wasn’t happy that this became a battle to choose between James and Juliette either, to be honest; that’s practically a cliche in Asian romantic dramas (LOL), and I’m sure Mafi is capable of constructing more creative alternate scenarios for Adam’s conflict if she wanted to. I tolerate this in Asian dramas because in most Asian cultures, family really is that important when considering relationships. I’m not saying it’s not considered in other cultures, of course, but it goes down better if the audience/reader knows that something like that is expected out of the character.

And I did expect this from Adam at the back of my mind because of how he was portrayed in “Shatter Me”, and in a post-apocalyptic setting like this one, it’s only expected that family becomes more important to keep if you have one. This was a running theme in “The Hunger Games”.

The part that I didn’t like was, as I said above, that Adam did not use his head, and by the end of the story—yup!—he was blaming himself. He should. After serving as a soldier, he should have already imagined the many horrific scenarios that Anderson or even Warner can possibly think up, and he should have been prepared for them. He picked his priority—and I’m not faulting him for it—but now he should live with it.

As for the love triangle, the entire thing is still iffy to me. While I love Warner as a character (and it feels to me like he is Mafi’s favorite, too), I’m not sure if Juliette will be able to forgive him so easily despite her attraction enough to even make Warner a legitimate “team” to root for. And because Juliette is not privy to Adam’s internal conflict, she is still probably thinking that Adam and the others did their best to rescue her but were thwarted. Now she wants to escape and take revenge, so at this time, she has virtually chosen Adam and the others at Omega Point over Warner. I’m hoping that, in the end, any romance that will be cemented will happen not just for romance’s sake.

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Related Reviews:

 

“Ignite Me”: Fear will learn to fear me. (February 2014)

Hi guys!

I’m so so thrilled to be able to share this final cover with you all. The “Shatter Me” series is swiftly coming to a close, and though it’s a bittersweet feeling, I’m anxious for everyone to know how the story will end. Also I’m hoping we can still be friends after you finish reading. Ahem.

If you follow me around the internet, you know I’ve teased you a lot about what may or may not happen in book 3, but the truth is, most of the time I was just messing with you. What actually happens in the third book is probably almost definitely not what you think is going to happen. (Don’t let the title fool you! “Ignite” is so much more than it seems.)

Of this final book I can promise you this much, though: Juliette is back. She’s pissed. And she’s ready to kick some ass. No regrets.

And mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I just said ass on the Internet. Twice.

-Tahereh Mafi

Source: MTV Hollywood Crush

It doesn’t sound as dramatic to me as the first two titles, but at least it’s less risqué than Tahereh’s mom’s suggestion: “Unshackle Me”. 😛 I really love these artistic eyes.  And I give the tagline an A+!

“Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)” by Tahereh Mafi

unravel meUnravel Me (Shatter Me #2)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Read Date: 27 February 2013
Goodreads Reading Status Updates: click!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. But only because of Warner, who’s worth maybe a whole star, maybe more. (What?! The rest of the book was only mildly interesting.)

tick
tick
tick
tick
tick
it’s almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

*SPOILER WARNING FOR PRETTY MUCH ALL THE MATERIAL IN THIS SERIES*

So I thought that life-changing decision they were talking about in the synopsis will be something really epic, but as it turns out, it’s just Juliette finally succumbing to Noble Idiocy.

I first encountered the term when I got into Korean dramas, and perhaps one of the best examples is illustrated here: Noble Idiotic Cancer-afflicted Characters. If you’ve read “Unravel Me” and that scenario sounds familiar, well…now you have a term for it. 😛

I was annoyed with Juliette for most of this book, and to be honest, I really wanted to punch her in the face. If only she weren’t so powerful and so…fictional. 😛

First, there’s that noble idiocy. (I am a monster, I can kill you, therefore, we cannot be together. *gives Adam torturous looks for the rest of the book*) I do understand her plight and her genuine fears, but I was disappointed that she didn’t even give herself or Adam a chance to at least be trained or to even actively find a solution.

Juliette: ‘I can’t help but wonder what my life would’ve been like if someone had taken a chance on me.’

Me: Well, sister, you will keep wondering if you aren’t even willing to take a chance on yourself.

I liked, though, that Adam wasn’t willing to take all this bullshit from Juliette and kept insisting that he wanted to make things work. (Although sometimes, I think he’s just sexually frustrated. Sorry. I mean…right?) At least he redeemed himself after making the mistake of not telling Juliette that he wasn’t as immune to her as they thought.

Second, she was just so emo. It’s the book’s saving grace that Tahereh Mafi got Kenji and Castle to call Juliette out on being a selfish, whiny, anti-social brat. I really, really appreciate Mafi hanging a lantern on that. It’s a pity because you would’ve thought she’d be a bit more optimistic and proactive now that she has a Professor X in her life. You know, just a bit? Not to mention an awesome awesome friend in Kenji. If Kenji dies in the next book, I will seriously cut a bitch.

Also, I do think Mafi writes beautifully, and sometimes the similes and metaphors are so pretty they touch my heart, which is proven by the many tabs now sticking out of my copy of the book. But there are times, too, when it all gets cheesy and overbearing. Emo Juliette + Juliette’s voice in melancholic prose = a particularly trying time inside the character’s head. I do get that this is part of the character’s DNA, but I just wish there was some semblance of evolution in this aspect now. It was acceptable to see her so introspective and defeated only when she was locked up in an asylum. I don’t expect her to stop being this way entirely because then, she wouldn’t be Juliette. But maybe just…a little more positive? A little more willing to change her circumstances and to fight back? I loved when she was being funny and light-hearted and even sarcastic—those are some ray-of-sunshine moments!

The character who I did not expect to be such a fancy thinker was Warner (omo, he reads Shakespeare!), although reading “Destroy Me” changed that perception. Oh, Warner Warner Warner. There’s some hate for him out there as a love interest, especially post-“Shatter Me”, and I understand that. In fact, I approve. I felt the same way!

But I, like Juliette, find something compelling about him that I cannot name. He’s been described by other readers as a psycho, a warfreak, a megalomaniac. Well, he does own up to being a murderer and a troubled, unforgivable person, but people give him too much credit.

Anyway, that doesn’t mean he can’t make you swoon. After all, bad boys are attractive, right? And Warner is a very bad boy who you just might want to do bad things with. CHAPTER SIXTY TWO. ‘Nuff said.

Juliette: ‘I don’t know why my heart is losing its mind.’

Me: Damn. My heart lost it too. But I know why.

wave_of_feels-18739

I don’t know why she keeps giving Warner flack about going Darth Vader on her Luke Skywalker, by the way. (*in Darth Vader voice* Join me, and together, we will rule the galaxy…) Warner wants her to realize the true potential of her powers. Sure he wants to do it for World Domination (or so he says), but what about Castle? Castle wants her on their side so they can overthrow the Re-establishment, but he also admits that they will do it when they’re ready to rule. So both sides want Juliette on their side so they can gain power. Castle may have more noble intentions, but sometimes, when it comes to Warner, I think Juliette doth protest too much. It’s a good thing she’s not a hypocrite about her other feelings for him.

‘Warner is the one person I can be completely honest with. I always feel like I have to protect Adam from me, from the horror story that is my life…But with Warner, there’s nothing to hide.’

I am not yet too hopelessly romantic to think that Juliette will end up with Warner just because I like him, of course. Author Kate Evangelista once said that there seems to be an unspoken rule that the heroine must end up with the one who saved her first, and that was Adam.

Actually, I’m still not convinced that Warner will be good for Juliette in the first place. As of this book, he does have his own agenda despite his feelings for her, and nothing can erase his past, his crimes, and his family background. Basically, if Juliette was still living with her family, her mother would tell her to stay as far away from Warner as she can. And until things change in the third book, I’d have to agree with her.

I personally like him because he has more potential as a character, he has more depth, and he’s been brutally honest about what he’s really like so far, and I appreciate that. And also, yes, that compelling something I still cannot name. And the feels. But being on Team Warner/Team 62 doesn’t mean being on board the Juliette/Warner ‘ship entirely. In this book, for me, it just means I’m rooting for the character.

It’s telling, though, that the times when I liked Juliette in this book were when she was with either James or Kenji.

I also like that in the love configuration, it’s Juliette who is the more powerful entity. In most YA love triangles, it’s often the girl who’s the normal or weaker one—the human—and it is often the boys who have power or wealth or who are supernatural beings. This is a nice variation to the trope. I hope that she lives up to the hype when we get to the last book.

I should probably stop talking about the romance now. I just couldn’t help it because the plot didn’t really move forward as much as could be expected from such a thick book, and the romance constitutes a good chunk of it. 😛 You can’t even really argue for character development taking up a lot of space because there wasn’t much growth or change in Juliette.

Okay, let’s talk about abilities. The gist: the series has gone all dystopian X-Men on us.

Yes, I did expect to see a lot of mutants because the story is now set in Omega Point, but I didn’t want EVERYONE to be a mutant! Sure, I was willing to accept that maybe Adam was, and I kinda saw the Warner revelation coming after that. But even James?! Being Adam’s brother is not an excuse.

The only normal major character in this is Supreme Commander Anderson. And who knows, maybe he’ll also find out later that he’s a mutant, especially considering how his kids turned out. Statistical probability just got thrown out the window. It’s all just so…to quote James himself, convenient.

Sometimes I feel like the Omega Point and mutant rebel action plot thread belongs to a different story. I think it’s because of Juliette’s voice, which is so personal, internal, and emotional; it fits the romance aspect more than the action and secret mutant rebellion scenes which are best narrated in a more straightforward voice to be better appreciated. I’m hoping that Mafi will be able to more smoothly intertwine internal Juliette with heroine Juliette and the outside world.

I also hope that Juliette will live up to her potential, not necessarily as a powerful being, but as a proper heroine in the next book. Nothing like almost-death to get you motivated, huh?

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And now to Score The Book. This has everything to do with Warner and Chapter Sixty Two. Sorry, Juliette.

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Read this book:

  • Only if you’ve read “Shatter Me.” Reading “Destroy Me” is optional, but recommended.

“Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5)” by Tahereh Mafi

destroy meDestroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Read Date: 26 February 2013
Goodreads Reading Status Updates: click!
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel Me, Destroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

*SPOILER WARNING FOR BOTH THIS NOVELLA AND “SHATTER ME”*

It’s great that we now know more about Warner and why he did the things he did in “Shatter Me”, even though he turns out to pretty much be your usual villain who dons a mask of cruelty to hide a troubled past (and present) to the point of driving the love of his life away. It’s a little too cliché, actually, but there’s something compelling about Warner that I am gravitating toward—especially compared to Adam—so I will just have to accept this.

Also, he picked up a dog and happily fed it, so now it’s gonna take something truly devastating to make me hate him after that. bagGorgeous, emotionally compromised men who are nice to women (when they’re not possessed by bouts of noble idiocy or necessary pretense), children, and dogs: there you have it, ladies and gents, my literary male character kryptonite.

The passages from Juliette’s notebook are a great addition here, by the way, as there really isn’t much of the actual content of the notebook in “Shatter Me”. They shed a little more light on Juliette’s captivity (pre-Adam) and how she dealt with her isolation.

“Destroy Me” seems like such an apt title for this novella because, dude, Warner was just crumbling right before my eyes. He falls apart so many times that it’s painful to read. I personally don’t think it’s necessary to paint him this way—in a level of pain that is almost close to Juliette’s—when he didn’t suffer as much as she did. And this difference is magnified even more when the revelations in Juliette’s notebook entries are put parallel to Warner’s trials and tribulations. Sure, he empathizes with her, especially with how they were both treated by their parents. But when you consider how he is in a position of power and privilege, he comes off as too emo, no matter how helpless he actually is when it comes to Juliette. I can still sympathize with him as a reader and understand his motivations as a character even if he were written just a little less emotionally than this.

I wrote about how the portrayal of love can still be epic and thrilling and intense without being suffocating, as Laini Taylor pulled off so well in “Daughter of Smoke and Bone”, and Maggie Stiefvater also did in “The Scorpio Races”. I loved how measured but still swoon-worthy the romance there is, and I wish there was a little of that kind of calculated restraint here and in “Shatter Me”. But the intensity and heightened emotions seem to be part of the style and the theme of the series, and it certainly isn’t something alien in dystopian YA, so I suppose it all comes down to personal preferences, but I just had to say it.

And I thought it was just Juliette, but is thinking in very dramatic similes all the rage in this world? (Loved them at first, but they can get exasperating.) I dread to hear what Adam is thinking.

But…okay, I’ll bite, because I’m a sucker for this tortured love thing sometimes. I’m on board for “Unravel Me”, but the payoff better be something that will rock my world.

Read this novella if:

  • You’ve read “Shatter Me”.
  • You’re curious about Warner.
  • You were waiting for a Warner shower/bath scene. 😛 (What?! It’s his turn.)

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Share Your Story in the Pensieve: What is your literary character kryptonite? (What kind of characters do you most gravitate toward?)