March 12, 2014

Unite Me (Shatter Me novellas) by Tahereh Mafi

Love is a heartless bastard. I'm driving myself insane.
-from Destroy Me (novella) / Unite Me (book) by Tahereh Mafi

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 *This review contains spoilers for Shatter Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi*

Just to clarify, Unite Me is a paperback book by Tahereh Mafi containing two novellas from the Shatter Me series and Juliette's Journal. The first novella, Destroy Me (1.5), is written from Warner's perspective and appears after, Shatter Me, the first book in the series. Fracture Me (2.5) is written from Adam's perspective and appears after Destroy Me, the second book in the series. Both novellas are available for individual purchase in e-book form. Juliette's journals appear and are referenced throughout the series. While technically you do not need these novellas to read and understand the Shatter Me novels as a series, I highly recommend them, and here's why! 

Ordinarily I dislike novellas and short stories attached to novels because I feel like they are just money makers that rarely contribute much more to a story. While it's true that most of these works help readers digest the wait between books in a series, making the time pass a little easier, I rarely learn anything new and I feel that it cheapens a series. However, with Destroy Me and Fracture Me, I find that both Warner and Adam's perspectives add a missing link to the whole understanding of the story without sacrificing any of Juliette's point of view. Fundamentally these stories give additional information about what is happening in the story, but I appreciate them for so much more than that.

In addition to disliking novellas in general, I am also peeved when authors constantly switch points of view in novels when these differing points of view rarely ever sound like different voices. By writing these novellas, Mafi achieves two things: One, she allows Juliette to wholly narrate the Shatter Me novels. Two, she shows off her extraordinary talent for writing in different voices. Juliette sounds like Juliette; Warner sounds like Warner; and Adam most definitely sounds like Adam. I am so impressed by how well Mafi crafts each character's individual voice that for once I might not even mind if a novel switched between these three because I would actually be able to tell them apart. I even got to ask her about her methods for varied narratives at her book discussion last month!

In Destroy Me, we learn Warner's story and find out what has made him into the heartless megalomaniac we all know (and many love).  I think more than anything this novella was necessary in establishing the reader's trust in Warner, assuming his side of the story is honest. I had much more sympathy for this "bad guy" and loved his use of language, especially describing how he builds walls. It's a great partner piece immediately after learning how Juliette's similar history made her into a very different person of compassion.

While I didn't find Fracture Me as strong, there were many things Adam's novella brought to the table that readers are unable to understand through Juliette and Warner's perspectives. For one, Adam's love for his brother, James, is much more powerful than Juliette is able to articulate. This is a new dynamic for readers because, even though we understand that Adam loves James, Adam is much better at expressing and learning about what that love means to him. Furthermore, Adam's story was especially important because readers are able to get a glimpse of just how much of Juliette's internal pain manifests itself externally. Adam notes that Juliette often repeats words and she doesn't even realize it, physically mimicking her repetitive narrative. I really appreciated this outside perspective of Juliette that we rarely see. 

Bottom Line: While you could skip these novellas like any other, I think Taherh Mafi's Destroy Me and Fracture Me give new perspective and are just as enjoyable to read as the Shatter Me novels. I highly recommend them! 4.5/5 Hearts.

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