My love-hate situation with the Shatter Me books

In the six years I’ve been reading books, there’s nothing out there I’ve come across like Shatter Me. Storywise there are similar ones that come to mind, and in the future, there probably will be situation-wise. But I’m going to be checking out the (supposed) final book very soon, Imagine Me, and my expectations are bouncing around like crazy. Just like every book I pick up, I have no idea what I’m going to end up thinking, but with this one, no grade will surprise me. This last book could be a dumpster fire or will stand alongside The Hate U Give as my favourite books ever, and I wouldn’t be stunned by either result. There’s so much good and not-as-good wrapped up in this series.

What the series excels at the most is the writing. Tahereh Mafi clearly loves doing it. I also loved the crossouts (while they were still around.) Which is basically this, if you don’t know what I mean. The reason I liked it when some words are crossed out, is because sometimes they go like: I’m brave. I can do this. Or There are no weapons for me to defend myself. I pick up the crowbar I just saw in the corner.

The denial or rejection of certain thoughts and opinions in these books makes the whole thing seem like we’re really in Juliette’s mind. It’s a simple yet brilliant writing idea. In Ignite Me, I was disappointed Mafi decided not to include the crossouts, but I understood that was to metaphorically say Juliette was stronger now and not double-guessing her motives.

So here’s basically what happened with the last five books, and I have links to all my original reviews here. Reading other reviews, I had low expectations when I gave the first Shatter Me a go, but to start it off in a miserable prison with the most minimal human connection imaginable Juliette’s been in for half a year…it was haunting. It did feel overly erotic at times, as I expected it to, and my first impressions of Warner weren’t good, to the point where I wasn’t sure why Juliette would ever find him attractive. But the book really made up for that with a fast pace I wasn’t expecting, Adam being a terrific love interest (especially when he expresses how much he’s looked up to Juliette since childhood), and as I said, the crossouts were a lot of fun. My grade was 2.5 out of four but I think today the grade is 2.75.

Then we go to Unravel Me. And that’s when I really noticed things dip. It was still written in a way that kept me turning the pages, but I was expecting a lot more to happen but most of it is Juliette second-guessing her feelings for Adam and being too scared to leave Omega Point for too long. The romance was the biggest part of the book, written with undeniable skill and appreciation, but when compared to how much happens beneath the surface and how this was making up almost one entire book, wasn’t a fan. Especially when the end of a chapter near a climax involves Juliette falling into a peaceful sleep. I gave it 1.5 stars out of 4.

But I felt Ignite Me would fix my problems with it. Unravel Me gave the impression this one would be better. Sadly, it really wasn’t. For all the talk about Juliette becoming a warrior, I really don’t remember much of what happened during the first and second acts of this book. It involved mostly boring regrouping and further romance ramblings. I kept convincing myself the big battle would start momentarily, and that’s what kept me going. I was also, simply, interested. But to dismiss Adam for a troubled but undeserving guy like Warner and for Warner to say “Juliette, my love, you have just started a war” when there’s only about 30 pages left in the whole series, and for Anderson the main villain to never actually say anything and have pretty much no presence for the whole book…I was supremely dissatisfied and gave it 1 star.

But then a few years later I found out the series would continue with 3 more books and I was still interested, because Ignite Me felt like it should’ve been Part 3 of a fourth and final entry. I was happy some holes would most likely be filled. And Restore Me was fascinating. All the point-of-view transitions between Warner and Juliette which took up either 2 or 3 entire pages made it a very quick read. I wasn’t able to recommend it because, like Unravel Me, it seemed to spend too much of its time in one place pondering the goals of one simple event, and then that event, which I was actually interested in, only happens for about 2 pages. Still, the climax, as usual, was very good, and my final grade was 2 stars, the best since the first.

And I begun Defy Me at first hating it, because it cancels out the climax of the last book, which came across as a ‘Gotcha!’ story element. So I expected to dislike the rest of this book. But I didn’t. I will admit I still didn’t like the disregarding of Adam and his little brother James, not as much is revealed and explored that I’d hoped, I don’t like this new name Juliette is given and I still don’t think she and Warner are a good couple. But this was the first Shatter Me book since the first one where I felt it really did its job in giving us an adventure. Juliette and Warner’s separate incarcerations with pretty much no possibility of escape, Juliette under a drug that makes it feel like she’s forever drowning with no relief from death and Warner forced to eat food that literally eats at his strength, thoughts and consciousness, and a reveal that brings the possibility for Book 6 to really rock, and ironically cancel out basically the entire happenings of my least favourite entry…I gave it 2 and a half out of four this time.

So now there’s Imagine Me. A lot is riding on this final entry because I have such a love-hate relationship with this series, and this last one is a type of tie-breaker. I think I would recommend the overall series to undemanding readers who just want to read something fun to read, because even if these books aren’t always action-packed, they still find ways to keep readers interested and emotionally connected. Kenji is also the best side character ever, even if he’s now interested in someone overly smug. (I hoped at the end of Ignite Me that Adam and Warner would perish in the final battle and Juliette would end up with him.)

So I hope I end up liking it. Restore Me and Defy Me were both better than Books 2 and 3, and they got progressively better, so we’ll see. If you want, I’d love to know what your favourite book in this series is! Till then!

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