Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Series of the Month: Shatter Me Trilogy

Hey, y'all! It's that time again- series of the month time! This month, I ended up reading 6 books. The first 3 were all stand-alones, but the last 3 books were the Shatter Me trilogy! So, I'm just going to be talking about these three books, and I plan on doing a post about stand-alone books in the near future, so they'll be included in that! Also, if you want to see the books I've been reading, you can check out my Goodreads by clicking HERE.

As always, I'll give you a spoiler warning. If you haven't read the series, don't read this post! Unless you want to be spoiled... in which case, be my guest.

Shatter Me

Our main character is Juliette, a teenage girl who has been locked in a cell for 264 days because her touch is lethal. It's a bit hard to explain this one, but I'll give it a try. One day, she gets a cellmate- a guy her age named Adam. Then, not long after, she's suddenly dragged out of the cell and taken to a guy named Warner, who wants to use her as a weapon for The Reestablishment. Through all of this, Juliette is struggling both to fight back and to figure out how to be with the guy she's fallen in love with.

Much like most other reviews I've seen, I thought that the writing style was interesting. It's pretty much stream of consciousness writing, and so when Juliette thinks something and changes her mind, it's marked through in the text. I think it gives a bit more insight into Juliette's mind.

I feel like this book doesn't give a clear explanation of the world that Juliette lives in. It talks in detail about how the birds don't fly and how the sky is odd colors and that nothing is green anymore, but unless I missed something, we never get a real explanation of what exactly happened to cause this world. What caused all of these crazy things to happen? Clearly, The Reestablishment is the pseudo-government, but it's never really explained what happened to the real government or what exactly the conflict is... I just don't feel like we got a real understanding of the world, and that's a pretty big problem for me.

The plot... I hate to say "what plot?" but seriously, I didn't think the plot was very exciting. The book focuses so much more on the romance than the dystopian aspects, and while I generally am cool with romance in a book (it's typically inevitable), this romance took center stage a little too much for me.

That's about as much as I can say without spoiling anything. I gave it a 4 on Goodreads, but I may move it down to a 3. At best, it's a 3.5. I thought the romance was cute, which is why it got as high of a star count as I gave it.

Don't continue reading if you haven't read the book!

So, I already covered most of my problems with the book, but I'll talk more in-depth about them on here.

So, the almost nonexistent plot... Nothing especially exciting happens. Most of the time, she's basically just falling in love with Adam. They escape and go to his house, then they have to run away from the house. Then they get attacked, Juliette saves Adam, and they find this community where they will be safe. Not a lot happens, and it's a really short book. I just don't really think it was that special.

Also, how incredibly convenient is it that both Adam and Warner are both able to touch her? Wouldn't it have made it so much more interesting if Warner could touch her and Adam couldn't?... Ok, that would've made the plot more difficult to work out, but at least it would be a surprise.

Also, at first I was a bit annoyed with the whole romance. It was so instalove it hurt. But then when they started talking about how they knew each other when they were younger, I thought it was kinda cute. The romance was interesting, but I find it mildly disappointing when the romance is the most compelling part of the story.

Overall, I changed my star rating to a 3. I'd say that it's somewhere between a 3 and a 3.5.

Unravel Me

If you haven't read all of Shatter Me and you don't want to be spoiled, I'd suggest that you don't read any further because to talk about Unravel Me, I have to talk about some of the things that happened in Shatter Me.

Unravel Me begins soon after the end of Shatter Me. Juliette has just arrived at Omega Point and is working to try to understand her powers and fit in with the others. At first, everything seems to be going well, but a discovery could put Adam and Juliette's relationship in jeopardy. At Omega Point, they're all preparing to eventually fight the Reestablishment, but it could come sooner than anyone expected.

Before I get into the spoilers, I'll give my thoughts on it. I thought that it was a big step up from Shatter Me. I thought that most of the characters were developed much better than in Shatter Me. I also liked the way that Tehareh Mafi handled the love triangle. At least it was an actual possibility in this one. I don't think anyone believed it in Shatter Me. Lastly, the world building was definitely better. It wasn't perfect, and I still have some questions, but I definitely think that it was a lot better. Overall, I gave it 4/5 stars because I think it was better than Shatter Me, but not perfect at all.

Like I said, I think that Unravel Me was a big step up Shatter Me. Tahereh Mafi did a much better job of developing some of the characters: Warner and Kenji specifically. I really enjoyed learning more about Kenji, and I think he's probably my favorite character at this point.

I also liked seeing this whole other side of Warner. It certainly made the love triangle much more realistic, especially with the realization that Adam can't unconditionally touch Juliette. I don't think that the love triangle was convincing at all in Shatter Me, but Tahereh Mafi did a really good job of actually making it seem like either option might happen. I even found myself questioning who I wanted Juliette to be with. I'm writing this section before I've read Ignite Me, so I don't know for sure who she's going to end up with. I have a feeling I already know who she'll end up with, but I don't know for sure. Either way, Tahereh at least makes it seem like either option is a viable one.

So, one of the biggest plot twists is that Adam and Warner are brothers. WHAT?! I wasn't surprised about Warner having a power. Once we realized that the reason Adam could touch Juliette was because of whatever power he had, I knew Warner must have some sort of power too. Plus the fact that James can heal himself. All 3 of Anderson's sons have powers. This leads me to believe that Anderson has some sort of power that he's keeping hidden. But we'll have to see. Also, this gives an explanation to the very "convenient" fact that both Adam and Warner were able to touch her.

So, the less successful parts of the book. One thing that constantly bothered me was that everyone was keeping secrets from everyone else, seemingly for no reason at all. I mean, they had reasons, but none of them made much sense. Also, Juliette got on my nerves, but I haven't been the biggest fan of her anyway. She (well, Tahereh Mafi, really) tries to be too metaphorical, and it usually just doesn't work. And she constantly seems to figure things out too late or to do something really dumb and illogical. Here's my personal favorite Juliette metaphor. It's a doozy.

"Sometimes I wonder about glue. No one ever stops to ask glue how it's holding up. If it's tired of sticking things together or worried about falling apart or wondering how it will pay its bills next week." 

I think there's a blatant reason why no one asks glue how it's holding up: it's an inanimate object. It doesn't have feelings or HAVE TO PAY RENT. What kind of metaphor is that? If you're going to try to make some deep metaphor, at least don't make it ridiculous!

So, love triangle. I would honestly be surprised if Juliette didn't end up with Adam. Unless he gets killed. At this point, I honestly think that Juliette and Warner are better for each other than Juliette and Adam. It seems pretty clear to me. When she's with Warner, she's stronger and she's able to actually do things. When she's with Adam, they're both weaker and she can't seem to do anything for herself. However, I still find myself rooting for Juliette and Adam. Why? Because they have a history. Because she loves him. She doesn't love Warner. At least, I don't think she really does. She's happy with Adam. Sometimes the people who are technically the best for each other aren't actually the best for each other. And I think that's the case here.

Anyway, I think it was a solid sequel. I enjoyed it more than Shatter Me, and I hope that Ignite Me is even better. Solid 4 stars.

Destroy Me

So, after reading Unravel Me, I realized that it would probably be a good idea to read Destroy Me, the novella that bridges the gap between Shatter Me and Unravel Me. I'm not going to be talking about how I felt about it quality-wise, because I don't really have any opinions about that, I just want to talk about the character development. Although there's nothing spoilery in Destroy Me if you've read both Shatter Me and Unravel Me, I wouldn't read this section if you haven't read Destroy Me. Just read it. It's short. Also, I'm glad I read it after reading Unravel Me just because there was some overlap between this and Unravel Me, and I'm glad I read that scene in Unravel Me before reading it in Destroy Me. But that's just my opinion. 

So, Destroy Me is told from Warner's point of view. Oh, Warner. I'm not sure how I feel about the love triangle now. I think I'm thoroughly convinced that Warner is a good guy, especially the whole thing about the soldier he killed actually being a guy who beat his family. I mean, go Warner! Plus, the scene where he feeds the dog was just too cute. I'm also convinced that he genuinely does understand Juliette and that he deeply cares for her. Although I never thought I'd say this after reading Shatter Me, I really like Warner. I do. He's so complicated and intelligent and thoughtful, and I really, truly like him. 

Destroy Me has just further confused my brain as to who should/will end up with Juliette. I think this is the most I've ever been swayed in my original opinion about who the main character should/will end up with of any series EVER. I still believe that Juliette will end up with Adam in the end, but only because that's expected. I have this sick feeling that one of them is going to die, leaving Juliette with whichever is left. However, regardless of how good Juliette and Warner are for each other, I still stand by my opinion that Juliette loves Adam and doesn't love Warner, so therefore that's going to be the match. However, I can't for the life of me decide who I actually want her to end up with. I can't. Nope. 

So that's all I have to say about Destroy Me. It's super short, so I'm not sure I could give it a true star rating for quality. I really enjoyed the look it gave into Warner's mind, and I think it was very valuable to understanding his character, and I'd certainly suggest to read this while reading the series. I guess if I have to give it stars, it'd be a 3.25 like Shatter Me. It was important, but I was just kinda reading it to get through it. 

Fracture Me

So, after reading Destroy Me, I went right into the novella bridging Unravel Me and Ignite Me. Destroy Me was intense in the way that we learned so much about Warner and we had all the information thrown at us. Fracture Me was intense in the sense of war and violence and physical intensity. Just as with Destroy Me, don't read what comes next if you haven't read Fracture Me and all the books before it.

So, Adam's point of view. I think that what we learned about Warner's character in Destroy Me is pretty comparative to what we learned about the plot in Fracture Me. I haven't started Ignite Me, so I'm not sure how much of what happened in Fracture Me that we discover in Ignite Me, but I'm so glad I read it before Ignite Me. To me, the two most important details are the incident with James and Omega Point and Adam's belief that Juliette is dead. I'm sure that second one will come into play really quickly in Ignite Me.

At first, I really enjoyed Adam's point of view. I like Adam. I think he's a great guy and that he really cares about Juliette. But I feel like Fracture Me makes me wonder if he cares as much about her as Warner does. I can totally understand his conflict between James and Juliette. It's his brother, for goodness sakes! But I found myself getting a little annoyed that he was constantly thinking Juliette couldn't do it. I understand that he would be concerned about her not being able to use her powers to fight, but in the middle of the battle, he had a bit of an "I-told-you-so" moment, which bothered me. And then, when she was gone, I understand that James took priority because he was in immediate danger. But once he was safe, why wasn't saving Juliette his first priority? Yes, she was likely to be safe because Warner wanted her alive, but when Juliette got away from Warner, he never gave up. Adam has temporarily given up.

All of this... and I still kinda want her to be with Adam. I'm not sure whether that's due to me actually wanting them together or if it stems from my pretty strong belief that they'll end up together. Because clearly, if you think about it, she and Warner are better for each other. Or maybe it's still because I think she loves him and not Warner. I don't know. Once I finish Ignite Me, I'll let you know how I feel about the end of the love triangle.

I guess if I give this a rating, I'd give it the same as Destroy Me- 3.25- but I think it's more important to the overall plot than Destroy Me was. At this point, I'm going to guess that she ends up with Adam. Or maybe Adam gets killed and she ends up with Warner because of it? Just... I don't want Kenji to die. That's my #1 request. Not my boy. Please, Tahereh Mafi, not my boy.

Ignite Me

If you haven't read Shatter Me and Unravel Me, don't read any further. I have to talk about what happened in Unravel Me to continue on.

Ignite Me picks up pretty close to where Unravel Me left off. Warner has just saved Juliette's life, and Juliette wants to take Anderson down. And Warner wants to help her. And she doesn't know for sure what has happened to any of her friends from Omega Point. 

I think that's actually all that I can say about the plot without spoiling anything. What I can say is that I absolutely loved this book. I put it down and all that I could say was "WOW." The character development of both Juliette and Warner was great. Also, remember how I said I wasn't sure who I wanted her to end up with, but that I'd let you know how I felt about it in the end? It. Was. Perfect. She definitely ended up with the guy who was right for her by the end. And the way that Tahereh Mafi laid it out to explain how Juliette chose that guy made complete sense and worked perfectly. 

My one complaint with this book is that it was a bit too heavily focused upon the relationships, and not the plot. Yes, I'm extremely aware that this entire series is more about the relationships and characters than it is about the actual plot. However, I thought this was a bit too out of balance. 

Overall, I really really enjoyed this as an ending to the series. Aside from the unbalance I felt between the actual plot and the love triangle, I thought it was great. I think I'm going to give it 4.5 stars out of 5!

Let's all just appreciate all of the character development going on with Juliette in this book. WOW. Gone are the terrible metaphors and the child who can't do anything. Juliette has finally realized that she can do things on her own and that she needs to take down Anderson and that she needs to do it herself. She's finally a bearable and enjoyable character.

I wasn't a fan of Adam in this one. All throughout the series, I really liked Adam, and he suddenly became unpleasant in this. I wish there would have been more of a resolution with Juliette and Adam. Not that they ended up together or anything, but that they could at least be friends. 

OK, love triangle talk. I realized fairly quickly that Tahereh Mafi was pointing things in the direction of Warner. And rightly so. After all of the character development going on with Juliette, she and Adam just weren't right for each other. She and Warner, however, became the absolute perfect couple. At the beginning of the series, I couldn't believe how people would ship Juliette with Warner. And I think that belief is justified at the beginning of the series. However, after everything that happens, I would be surprised if anyone remained on team Adam. 

Honestly, I think this is the best-designed love triangle I've ever read. In every love triangle I've read in the past, it was pretty predictable. The girl falls in love, gets distracted by another guy momentarily, but then goes back to the original guy. In this one, you expect that she and Adam are the perfect couple- that they're going to end up together and that Warner is a mere distraction. But really, she and Warner are who should actually be together. This love triangle leaves you guessing for so long before giving resolution. This is probably the first time I've ever changed teams in the middle of a series. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the love triangle, and I'm extremely happy that she ended up with Warner. Especially since Adam has been underestimating Juliette since Unravel Me. And the main reason I thought Juliette would end up with Adam was because I thought she loved him over Warner. But clearly, as the book progresses, she realizes that she loves Warner, not Adam.

Now, the part I had problems with. I started wondering when Juliette's plan to kill Anderson would ever go into effect. I had barely any of the book left and they hadn't even rallied the troops yet. I thought the whole scene on the boat just all went by too quickly. It seemed like it was all over too soon. We spent all this time worrying about who Juliette would end up with, and then once it comes to taking down the Reestablishment, it's over way too quickly. Just a little more balance would have been nice. 

So, the very very end. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Obviously, it's conclusive- everyone lives, Warner and Juliette are together, Anderson is dead, YAY! But then it kinda just... ends. I wanted just a little more resolution. Maybe an epilogue? It almost seems like she wanted to leave it open for more books... which I would welcome with open arms. But if this is forever officially the end of the series, it's just OK. I was happy with everything that happened before the end, I just thought it was very abrupt.

Also: I just noticed that there are no/ almost no cross-outs in Ignite Me! I haven't looked through the entire book for anything, but I skimmed and I couldn't find a single cross-out. Yay for confident Juliette who doesn't change her mind!

Overall Series Ratings

Series rating: I ended up really enjoying the series. At the beginning of this whole journey, I wasn't so sure that I would like it, but by the end, I'd give the series a 4.25-4.5 overall. It wasn't perfect, but it was really great. 
Favorite character: If I had to choose a favorite character, it would definitely be Kenji. He's such a nice guy, and so funny. He's the perfect best friend for Juliette. I mean, I wish I could have him as my best friend. By the end, I also really liked Warner. After learning all about his past and his real personality, I don't know how anyone could dislike him. 
Favorite/ Least Favorite book: As you can probably tell, my favorite book in the series was Ignite Me, and my least favorite was Shatter Me. 
Favorite/ Least Favorite cover: I think the Ignite Me cover is the prettiest, followed by Shatter Me. The Unravel Me cover didn't impress me as much. 

So there you go, my series of the month post! I hope y'all enjoyed my opinions about the Shatter Me series! Have you read it? What did you think of it? If you like my posts, it's be awesome if you'd follow/subscribe, since it lets me know you like what I'm doing. Thanks, y'all!

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