That awkward moment when you are supposed to review a book but it’s so incredibly, inexpressibly great that you really have no idea how to articulate your thoughts so you could explain the magic that this book is.
Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi was everything I wanted it to be, which is to say a lot because my expectations for this book was probably as high as Mt. Everest. After the way Unravel Me ended, I couldn’t help but want to see how the writer ties it all up in the last and final book of the series. Safe to say, I was not disappointed at all.
The Writing: While Tahereh Mafi’s usual poetic prose was a lot more toned down in this particular novel than in her previous books that were from Juliette’s POV, her writing remains as flawless as ever–evenly paced, intriguing and emotionally captivating. What I enjoyed even more was how the slight differences in her writing style in this book–the lack of crossed out sentences, the lack of repetition, and etc–subtly showed Juliette’s steadily healing mind. While the first book, Shatter Me, powerfully showed the thoughts of a psychologically traumatized girl, Ignite Me showed the thoughts of a girl gradually recovering and becoming more stable with time. This change of narration was really incredible to read, and Tahereh Mafi executed the change in Juliette so expertly that I couldn’t help but feel proud of Juliette as she slowly transformed from a damsel in distress to a strong female lead.
This, combined with Mafi’s unique way with words, made reading Ignite Me a truly heartfelt journey. Just like in the previous book, there were many, many paragraphs and sentences I had to highlight because of how beautifully they were written.
I’m not sure. But there’s something about the darkness, the stillness of this hour, I think, that creates a language of its own. There’s a strange kind of freedom in the dark; a terrifying vulnerability we allow ourselves at exactly the wrong moment, tricked by the darkness into thinking it will keep our secrets.
Such incredible writing.
The Characters: I have to start by talking (read writing) about Juliette’s enormous character arc. It seems kinda impossible that a girl who was so depressed and almost manic could have the potential to become a leader, but well, that is exactly what happens. Gone is the Juliette who used to cry in a corner about how she did not deserve to live or be loved. This Juliette only cares about making the world a better place, and she is willing to kill for it.
*cue badass music*
It was an absolute joy watching Juliette learn to accept who she really was and try to live up to what she was capable of. Her journey throughout the series was a hard one, but in the end, she chose to be brave and that made all the difference.
Warner continues to be a complex character, but this time, Tahereh Mafi manages to redeem him in such a reasonable, and rational way that every time I tried to point out one or two of his unforgivable crimes I had to take back my words. In retrospect it seems a bit far fetched how misunderstood Warner is, but given the situation and the way Warner never actually reveals his true intentions except to Juliette, you cannot help but realize he was never really the bad guy here.
On the other hand, Adam goes through a surprising but a very unpleasant change in personality. In my review of Fracture Me, I pretty much ranted about how he was actually a douchebag who was more in love with the idea of being in love with Juliette than actually being in love with her. Also, he really did not like the fact that Juliette was suddenly all independent and fighting her battles. It was really no surprise that he was worse in Ignite Me.
There’s not much to say about the other supporting characters except that Kenji’s friendship with Juliette was one of the highlights of the book for me, and James’s interactions with Warner was just adorably unforgettable.
“Why do you call her ‘love’?” James asks. “I’ve heard you say that before, too. A lot. Are you in love with her? I think Adam’s in love with her. Kenji’s not in love with her, though. I already asked him.”
Warner blinks at him.
“Well?” James asks.
“Are you in love with her?”
“Are you in love with her?”
“What?” James blushes. “No. She’s like a million years older than me.”
The Plot: And this is where Tahereh Mafi and I have a bit of an issue. The plot of the whole book was a buildup to the final scene, the most anticipated The End, and so there was really nothing extraordinary about the plot. It was still very character-driven, but there nothing really happened until the last few chapters.
The Ending: The thing about a plot that builds up to the ending is that it makes you raise your expectations higher, but it does not always deliver. That is what happened with the ending of Ignite Me. While it was definitely a wonderful ending that tied up every loose end, did justice to all characters involved and was believable enough, the last few chapters which consisted mainly of war scenes were not as thrilling as I hoped it to be. By that I do not mean it was bad–Tahereh Mafi’s descriptions of every battle had me turning pages, but because the entire book was building up to those scenes I expected a tougher battle, or a longer fight, which I did not get. Everything ended too quickly, and not in a good way, and before I knew it I was reading the last page.
But these are just a few issues and when I think of the story as a whole, I can’t really bring myself to give this book low ratings just because the ending was a bit more rushed than I wanted it to be. Overall, this book was worth waiting for, and finishing this series made me feel incredibly sad because it is now officially over.
QOTD: Which book series did you think ended really well? Name some of your favorite series you became teary-eyed saying goodbye to in the comments below!