March 19, 2014

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

My eyes are filling fast with tears and I blink and blink but the world is a mess and I want to laugh because all I can think is how horrible and beautiful it is, that our eyes can blur the truth when we can't bear to see it. 
-from Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

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 **This review contains spoilers for Shatter Me, Unravel Me and Unite Me**

The final installment of Tahereh Mafi's epic dystopian saga finds protagonist Juliette in supposed villain Warner's custody after being shot by his father, the leader of the Reestablishment. With her friends thinking she's dead and Point Omega destroyed, Warner may be all that Juliette has left. She must choose what options she has left and how she must proceed.

The synopsis is terribly vague, right? I know, I know, but I'm so particular about avoiding spoilers that I wouldn't want to ruin this incredible finale for anyone. My initial reaction to this book is that there was way too much emotional drama, especially focused on the whole love triangle, and not nearly enough action. The last third of the book concentrates on the big finale, but I was really let down with how quickly the external components were concluded compared to all of Juliette's internal problems. All that said, I still loved every single page. Drama-filled or not! I think anyone who has followed the series this far will appreciate how much time is spent on Kenji-Juliette banter, even if it could have been edited out and replaced with more action. So while in a literary sense I want to criticize this ending, the fangirl in me trumps all, mmmkay?

And none of that is to say that the focus on Juliette's emotional, boy-centered, seventeen-year old drama isn't good for anything. The character growth expressed in this book is extraordinary among all of the characters! Juliette, for one, stops self-editing her narrative; although I missed that component, I was also awed at how Mafi used this element and then removed it to really give the reader a sense of how far Juliette had come and how confident she has grown in herself. Readers gain a new positive side of Warner and a different side of Adam. I think the subtext of Juliette and Adam's relationship is important to any teen reader learning to navigate relationships and am satisfied with Mafi's resolution to the great Warner-Adam debate.

Let's no forget the guy every reader just can't help but love, even if he's not a part of Juliette's love triangle: Kenji. Kenji really comes into himself in this book with his realistic dialogue and devotion to his friends. I think I have appreciated the evolution of Kenji and Juliette's friendship as much as (if not more than) Juliette's romantic relationships with Warner and Adam. While all of Mafi's character dialogue is an absolute delight to read, Kenji's words really set him apart as hilariously likable and particularly realistic. Knowing that Mafi based him off of her own older brothers really makes me wish I grew up in her family!

While I already mentioned my complaint of too little action wrapped up much too quickly, I think my real complaint is the lack of epilogue. I read a digital copy because I had planned on purchasing the hardback copy at an author event promoting this book and I honestly thought my e-book was defective. I literally raced to the library to pick up the hardback book to make sure there truly was no further conclusion. I was heartbroken! I know many authors want their characters to go off into the world of literature and make their own ending and all that sappy stuff, but real talk: I WANT BETTER CLOSURE! I'm not so crazy as to stay awake nights wondering what happened next, but still..! ;)

At the end of the day, I loved this novel and I loved this series. I think it was stronger than a lot of series in its genre and I felt that it touches on many topics and themes that are important for anyone, especially young adults, to explore and discuss. This series provides endless areas to dialogue about, which is why I put it as my top post-Hunger Games recommendation for readers who are mourning the end of that equally epic series. I truly look forward to reading every single thing Tahereh Mafi writes in the future. Her talent at crafting a novel and series along with her gorgeously poetic prose has made her one of my favorite authors.

Bottom Line: Wonderful ending to an incredible series, although I could have used a little more action and a lot more closure. 4.5/5 stars.

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