Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

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.

As you can see based on my one star rating (as if eighteen angry status update weren’t proof enough already), I did not enjoy Ignite Me. 

Now I know that this book is loved by many, and that’s great! I mean no disrespect with this review, merely to state my opinions on the series. That being said, and although I’m feeling pretty calmed now it’s quite likely that this will turn into an angry rant (as per usual) that means foul language, middle finger gifs and recommendations to the characters to go and pleasure themselves…

Yes, I’m that delightful but enough said! I’ll get into this review.

I can say now, and with great sorrow that this book, and in consequence the entire Shatter Me series is the worst case of romanticized abused I’ve had the displeasure of reading in any book, AND I have read Fifty Shades of Grey.

The story begins right after Unravel Me left off, Juliette wakes up after being shot by Anderson and discovers that the entire Omega Point, and therefore everyone she knows, has been destroyed.

By now we can stop pretending that this book is anything but a rather contrived and overly dramatic romance story than a dystopian book with an interesting plot and world-building. To say that the action and actually taking down the evul government takes less than ten pages is proof enough. The rest is spent developing the relationship between Warner and Juliette. That’s it, that’s… that’s all that happens here.


For me the saddest part was that I honestly thought this series would be different. Everybody talked on how much Juliette grew as a character, that the broken and scared girl at the beginning would go through a lot and learn to love and accept herself. I can tell you right now, no such thing ever happened. Not only is this story all about “learning” to love your abuser, Juliette never truly grows as a character, she goes from terribly weak and wanting to die to simply wanting to get everybody killed by her own selfish reasons but running and crying every time things get though.

I ignored the signs, the little clues and hints (and the not so little too) that this was pretty much everything I dislike in books.
I ignored how Juliette was oh so perfectly perfect in every way, beautiful and flawless despite spending a year with no sun, little hygiene (and no tampons or pads apparently? Did she just like, bleed all over her cell? Why don’t we include periods in books?!) and barely any food. How she was so magically powerful and yet conveniently (and unreasonably) weak. How every single guy was attracted to her, hell! even the bad guy with no heart was in love with her.

It was all there! And yet I chose to believe that Shatter Me would be different, that we wouldn’t see this girl fall in love with her abuser but rather defeat him. 

When, at the end of book one, Juliette said that she had been surprised over how kissing Warner “Ignited” something in her, I wasn’t worried. Juliette had lived all her life believing that love meant abuse, hate, violence. Her parents beat her, locked her up and verbally abused her, calling her a monster. That was the kind of love she was used to, so it was reasonable for her to feel something akin to that when kissing Warner, the guy who had physically and verbally assaulted her because she was relating it to the love she had known for most of her life. I was convinced that after she arrived at Omega Point, met new people (nice regular folks who treated her like a person) and got to know herself, she would realize that love meant respect, not possession.

Adam was her first love, yes but if I’m being honest I never thought their relationship would last long. Juliette was simply too broken when she met him, she didn’t know who she was or what she wanted. When time passed she was bound to change, maybe their relationship would adapt, maybe it wouldn’t but, honestly, how many relationships that start at age seventeen last forever?
So I wasn’t disappointed when their relationship didn’t work, no but I was annoyed at how the author destroyed Adam and “improved” Warner to twist things around so we would ship Warnette.

As a matter of fact, we start Ignite Me with huge and ridiculous info-dumps, explaining how in fact, Warner was not the monster everybody thought he was, that he always had a reason for all the terrible things he did and how he was just a misunderstood guy, willing to be hated by everybody if that meant he could save lives.

It was the fucking dumbest shit I’ve ever seen.

Not only were the explanations dumb, contrived and so obviously set up to make Warner look like “the perfect guy” for Juliette, it also completely destroyed Warner as a character. 

I have a thing for villains in books, especially when the rest of the cast seems to be a bit lackluster, you can always count that the villain will be interesting (and if not then the book is pretty much doomed from the start), and in Shatter Me, Warner was somebody I simply loved to hate; he was insanely twisted. How he manipulated everybody and played with them, tortured them, it was really fucking sick, and his level of craziness added more interest to the story; he made the stakes higher because he was the ultimate enemy to defeat; the possessive creepy guy who wanted to own Juliette and break her even more. But he was smart, cunning and intuitive, so escaping from his grasp wasn’t so easy.

I loved to hate this guy, and it also gave me hope in thinking that this would not be just another case of romanticized abuse. You see, in most YA novels with villains that are meant to be love interests the guy is always brooding and distant, and an occasional asshole but usually, it stops there so that he’s not too sick and people will still root for him and the girl to get together. 
But Warner… man, Warner was a fucking psychopath, and I LOVED IT! I was convinced then that there was no chance for Juliette to fall for this bad boy.

I was fucking wrong wrong wrong.

When Juliette confronts Warner on all the horrible things he’s done, he says that everything he did, he did it for the love toward her and his mother.

Apparently, Warner’s mom has similar abilities to Juliette but reversed; when anybody touches her skin, she suffers incredible pain. At this point I was hoping Mafi would pull out a Cassandra Clare and make Warner and Juliette half siblings so we could end this madness but, sadly, my prayers were not answered.

So that was how Warner conveniently explained that all the time he spent with Juliettefucking with her mind, was simply to study her so he could find a cure to his mom! Remember how he creepily went through her most private thoughts by reading her diary even when Juliette BEGGED him to stop? It was just so he could relate to what his mom was going through! Duh. Of course we’ll never address what a huge violation that was, especially since he knew that Juliette didn’t want him to read that but, hey! Not taking a “no” for an answer is what perfectly describes a “good guy”, right?!

Remember how he made her torture a kid? It was all a simulation! Juliette should have known that the guy who kept her locked up, beat her, tried to kill her boyfriend, killed innocent people, manipulated her and assaulted her, wasn’t such a monster after all!! Even though he never told her it was a simulation…

And remember how he left Adam to bleed to death, dragging Juliette away as she screamed and kicked him away? Yeah well… we never get a fucking answer for that.

The explanations were dumb, and they completely ruined Warner. Remember that cunning, calculating leader? Turns out, he was a fucking idiot! Apparently Warner is appalled, yeah motherfucking appalled, that Juliette thought he was a monster!

He never told Juliette that she was in a simulation, and even though he claimed that many soldiers got caught up and forgot that the action wasn’t real, Warner was surprised she didn’t know the child she tortured had been a fake. So, which one is it?

Warner says over and over how he’s selfish and a monster, but he’s suddenly surprised that Juliette didn’t see him as a fucking saint? Way to go, idiot.

Not to mention that, despite all the changes made to Warner he’s still a terrible choice for Juliette, or for any other girl for that matter.

We got all this lovely speeches (that I would have loved in any other novel, because they were pretty cool), about how Warner just wanted for Juliette to feel better, to have more confidence in herself and embrace who she really was; a powerful and capable woman who could be her own hero. But they meant nothing when his actions contradicted his words.

Remember how in Book one, he made her wear those tight dresses that made her feel exposed and vulnerable? Apparently, he just wanted her to feel beautiful!
But, the thing is, if he wanted for her to feel better, why not just ask her what clothes she wanted to wear? Why not just give her a bunch of clothes to choose from, pants, shirts, dresses, and let her wear whatever she wanted instead of forcing her into something she felt so uncomfortable in?
Because Warner assumes he knows better than her, he doesn’t really care about what she wants or needs, only what he thinks she does. If you care, you ask. You wonder what that person is thinking instead of simply assuming it.

Then there is when he reveals why he shot that soldiers for stealing supplies. Turns out he was killing his family, so he killed him to stop him having him lived a similar situation with his father before. What really bothers me here is, when Juliette confronts Warner for reading her diary, invading her personal space whatever he justifies himself by saying that he’s a selfish asshole with no morals:

“I have never claimed to live by any set of principles,” Warner says to me. “I’ve never claimed to be right, or good, or even justified in my actions. The simple truth is that I do not care. I have been forced to do terrible things in my life, love, and I am seeking neither your forgiveness nor your approval. Because I do not have the luxury of philosophizing over scruples when I’m forced to act on basic instinct every day.” 

But then when she talks about the guy he killed, the guy Juliette had no idea he beat his wife and children, he gets mad at her for judging him making Juliette feel sorry for him and hate herself for judging him.

“Judge me,” he says, “all you like. But I have no tolerance,” he says sharply, “for a man who beats his wife. No tolerance,” he says, “for a man who beats his children.” He’s breathing hard now. “Seamus Fletcher was murdering his family,” he says to me. “And you can call it whatever the hell you want to call it, but I will never regret killing a man who would bash his wife’s face into a wall. I will never regret killing a man who would punch his nine-year-old daughter in the mouth. I am not sorry,” he says. “And I will not apologize. Because a child is better off with no father, and a wife is better off with no husband, than one like that.” I watch the hard movement in his throat. “I would know.”

 I’m sorry—Warner, I—” 

That’s a classical manipulation technic right there, “Do you really think I would be capable of doing that?” When he has proved, over and over that he is, in fact, very much capable of such things. But he makes her doubt her word so he can have control over her, turn the conversation in other direction so she has to apologize to him.

The cherry on the cake (is that the expression?) for me was when he accused Adam of wanting Juliette to be weak… when he did the same thing himself.
We all know how Juliette was in the first book, how broken and desperate that poor girl was. Every day was a struggle for her, she had suicidal thoughts constantly, she thought herself worthless, a monster, she was miserable. And here we get Warner’s appreciation of her during those rough times:
“I was expecting you to be an animal, someone who would try to kill me and my men at every opportunity—someone who needed to be closely watched. But you disappointed me by being too human, too lovely. So unbearably naive. You wouldn’t fight back.” 

For someone who claims he wants Juliette to embrace herself and start loving who she is, he certainly doesn’t show it. Romanticizing what Juliette was going through is not cute or adorable, is fucking creepy and sick. Mental illness are not something to make you look cuter and “too lovely”, we read how this girl felt, I wouldn’t wish that to anybody and yet Warner, instead of being appalled that this poor girl was this way, he considers it something good, positive. It’s adorable that she would rather get killed than keep on living, that she hurt people who are trying to kill her to defend her life. 
That’s not being human, that’s a serious problem and Warner doesn’t see it that way.

Even when Juliette was being… emm, “strong” which was, according to him all he ever wanted for her, he’s not pleased unless she follows certain rules of his, not get hurt, not do this, not do that. Sure, he says he believes she’s capable of anything but when he’s walking behind her following her every move and doubting every choice she makes, his words mean nothing.

It was funny (not really) how the author had to destroy Adam to make Warnette happen, why not just let Adam be who he had been for the last two books and still make Warner and Juliette come together? If you have to change things so badly, destroy everything to make one ship work, then your ship is not very good to begin with. So here we are in Ignite Me, and Adam has been transformed into something we can’t recognize.

Adam in Shatter Me:

Adam in Unravel me:

Adam in Ignite Me:

There is no in between, no slow passage or revelation that the sweet guy we got to know wasn’t so sweet to begin with. His personality is completely swapped over with Warner’s (but for some reason Juliette is not attracted to him then? Not gonna question crazy lady’s logic) making him jealous, possessive, abusive and pretty much all things Warner.

As for Juliette well, she was my biggest disappointment. I was really looking forward to this strong and confident woman, instead what happens? She suddenly wants to kill people and take over the world, because of REASONS.

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. 

WHY?? This comes out of nowhere and I just can’t, for the life of me understand why this girl who doesn’t even have high school education, who has no idea of how the world is, what the government is like and who has spent her last year locked up in a room going crazy, should rule the world.

But of course! Warner wants to help, and by help I mean question everything she does, and Juliette goes every time from creating a plan to following his orders.

Girl... power?... yeay?


That’s not how I define I strong female character, you can’t just have someone spewing treats here and there but running o the arms of some guy when things don’t go your way!
Juliette thinks that, because she almost dies she knows better what it is to live, to be alive but her definition is flawed and nonsensical. She’s convinced that being alive is getting herself killed.

When she finds Adam again and less than a dozen of other members of the Omega point still alive, she wants to go back and fight, against thousands of soldiers with guns and training even though they are ten and all injured, and she doesn’t understand why Adam is being a weak bitch who ain’t down for suicide missions!

I’m blinking at him, stunned. “I can’t believe this.”
“You’re giving up.” I hear the accusation in my voice and I do nothing to hide it. “You’re just giving up.” 

She’s shocked that Adam won’t compromise his safety and the safety of his brother for her own fucked up whims. And she’s horrified that Adam is honest about how Juliette doesn’t know what it really is like to be alive, when in fact, he has a very good point.

“What do you know about being alive?” he demands. “You wouldn’t say a word when I first found you. You were afraid of your own shadow. You were so consumed by grief and guilt that you’d gone almost completely insane—living so far inside your own head that you had no idea what happened to the world while you were gone.”
You have no idea what it’s really like to live out here—no idea what it’s like to starve and watch your family die in front of you. You have no idea,” he says to me, “what it means to truly suffer.” 

Where is the lie here? And after he says it she’s just stunned! And waiting for Adam to take the words back because she can’t handle the truth, she doesn’t want Adam to be honest with her, she wants him to shower her with compliments and lies and tell her that she’s perfect, that’s why she wants Warner, because he sees an idealized version of her that she likes, flawless, perfect. She can’t accept that she’s wrong.
How can she rule and be a competent leader if she can’t even accept the fact that she makes mistakes? How will she be any different from the people from The Reestablishment?

I just can’t believe things went so wrong with this series, it was certainly nothing I thought it would be which is why I’m changing the rating. There’s no point, this turned out to be an overly dramatic love story filled with abuse, nonsense and bullshit, I hated it.

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