Book Review: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Just how beautiful is this cover?!

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi
Published February 4th 2014
HarperCollins
5/5 STARS

*REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS – READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!*

Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she’ll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew – about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam – was wrong.

Well. Tahereh Mafi, you’ve done it again. Am I really surprised that I’m so blown away? Not at all. It was immediately after reading Shatter Me, the first book in the series, that I felt that familiar feeling – a certain rush that you get when you know that you’re falling in love with a book series. After reading Unravel Me, the sequel, it had become obvious that this beautiful series had a top place in my favourites. I posted a rather gushing review of Unravel Me on my YouTube channel; so many exciting and incredible things happened in that book that, honestly, I was terrified to begin reading the third and final book, Ignite Me.

When a book series comes to an end, it can either go two ways – either the author will deliver an ending so brilliant, unique or satisfying that you can’t help but feel a happy, yet bittersweet, resolution, or it can go the other way. Though I’ve only experienced it a couple of times (the Delirium series springs freshly to mind!), an author can deliver an ending so brutal or so anti-climactic that the love you once held for the series begins to fade. This was my main concern for Ignite Me, and I’m so thankful to say that my concerns were squashed by Mafi’s brilliant craftsmanship.

The story begins straight after the shocking events in Unravel Me. Juliette has been shot, Warner saves her and Juliette wakes to find herself in Warner’s room, back at the base of the Reestablishment. The action really does begin from the first page; not even a chapter has gone by when we learn, in a truly shocking revelation from Warner, that Omega Point has been destroyed and everyone is thought to be dead. Now, thinking back, this was a very clever trick that Tahereh Mafi plays; she destroys all hope from the offset, breaking Juliette (and us readers!) down before building the blocks back up again. The rebellion may have lost the battle – but the war is still ongoing.

What we get from this is brilliant, excellently crafted character development. Juliette – who in the past two books had been a weak, scared, insecure and passive character – transforms completely. This, out of any other part of Ignite Me, was the main pleasure to read, for me. Watching Juliette become this fearless, ass-kicking heroine was by far the greatest part of this entire series.

Juliette means business in this book, and what is great is that her journey from vulnerability to capability mirrors the downfall of the Reestablishment. The moment that Juliette – single-handedly – shoots Anderson and announces herself leader is the moment where Juliette completes her transformation.

I loved Juliette in this book, which is surprising considering how she was one of the only things I didn’t like about Unravel Me! However, the highlight of this book series, for me, is Warner. Aaron Warner, you beautiful, annoyingly fictional character. Mafi manages to turn this screwed-up, flawed semi-psychopath into one of my favourite book characters. Warner is opened up in Ignite Me – with Juliette, he transforms also, helping her with every step in order to bring down his father. We learn the despairingly sad truth about his mother and we see Warner finally learn that Adam and James are his brothers. His dedication and love for Juliette is honestly a joy to read; I love their relationship! His love for Juliette is transformative and so is her love for him – they strengthen each other, bringing about their true selves. I’ll stop crying over these two now, they’ve already turned me into an emotional wreck.

On to the other characters, mainly Adam and Kenji. Adam went pretty crazy in this book and didn’t really have a role at all. I do feel bad for readers who loved Adam and Juliette together, as Mafi makes it 100% clear that he is not what Juliette wants at all. However, thinking back, beyond the break up with Juliette and the subsequent outbursts that he had during the book, Adam pretty much retreated into the background – he is not one of the central figures determined to bring down the Reestablishment. As a Warner fan, I didn’t complain whilst reading, but now I realise that this was maybe a flaw; Adam was such an important and central character in the previous two books that it was surprising that he had no position in this book at all. Kenji, as always, was a true highlight for me. As Juliette’s best friend, he made me smile ridiculous amounts and I’m honestly SO PLEASED that he didn’t die – that was a close one, though, Tahereh Mafi!

Now, it only feels right to talk about the ending – the part I was most dreading. I was however, shocked – it was honestly too good to be true. It was a happy ending. Yes – I know, a completely happy ending in a YA dystopian? But, it was! Anderson’s death, we can assume, ends the horrific repression of the Reestablishment and – again, we assume – Juliette’s ascension into leadership will slowly repair the damaged world around them. However, though my poor attached heart was relieved that no one died – at all – and that Warner and Juliette were together, changing society for the better, I was slightly disappointed. The ending was extremely brief – the entire book concluded in about fifty pages. I had a moment towards the end when I panicked as I realised that this book was barely concluding itself despite having so little pages left. I would have honestly appreciated an Epilogue, something that would have maybe jumped forward in time to fill us in on what happens after Anderson’s death. I realise that the government and broken society was not the focus of the series at all, which is perhaps why Mafi decided not to focus on it. It was, in fact, Juliette’s journey that was the main focus of the story, and in those terms, the story ended beautifully.

I loved this book – as you can probably tell. My Warner/Juliette loving heart was extremely happy; this was truly a brilliant conclusion to one of my favourite series. Thank you, Tahereh Mafi, for your brilliant words and for bringing this excellent story to life.

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