Unravel Me, and the Shatter Me series

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I almost pulled a Joey and put this book in my freezer several times. I would have, too, if it wouldn’t have ruined my kindle.

Let me start off by saying I hate love triangles. HATE. There is never a happy ending, never a way out that doesn’t involve someone dying tragically, or falling in love with the heroine’s daughter. But I don’t see what happens in Unravel Me as a triangle. I see it as the characters shifting, growing and changing, and I really, really like that.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

The first book in this series, Shatter Me, was a bit difficult to get into. I struggled a bit with it in the beginning, but Juliette and her pain inevitably sucked me in. A seventeen year old girl who can never be touched, never touch without killing, was abandoned by her parents and all society, and thinks of herself as a monster. How could your heart not break for her? I was equally enamored with Adam, the soldier who has always known and loved her, and, of course, saves her. But Juliette remains weak throughout the book, afraid of herself and her gift/curse. When Shatter Me ended, I wasn’t sure I was going to like where the series went next.

Enter the novella, Destroy Me. Now, there’s been a lot of debate on whether or not writing a novella in between books is 1) an interesting way to give the readers more information, or 2) a calculated attempt on the author’s behalf to gain more sales. I choose to go with the former, and once I read Destroy Me, my perspective on the whole series, as well as the “villain” Warner, completely changed. I fell for Warner, big time. I felt his intense pain, his loneliness, and his love for Juliette in a way I never felt from Adam. I know that some people feel it isn’t fair to have to read a novella in order to get the entire breadth of a series, but to me it’s like the “make-your-own-adventure” books from the 80’s. You’ll reach your own conclusion depending on what you read.

So when I got to Unravel Me, I was primed. I held my breath when she came upon Warner with the puppy, waiting to see how that scene would unfold from her perspective. And I was ready to see Juliette grow, gain her confidence, and harness her power. But for so much of the book, she is still a wreck, mind spilling through thoughts about herself and the world in her still slightly manic run-on sentences:

This planet is a broken bone that didn’t set right, a hundred pieces of crystal glued together. We’ve been shattered and reconstructed, told to make an effort every single day to pretend we still function the way we’re supposed to. But it’s a lie, it’s all a lie. I do not function properly. I am nothing more than the consequence of catastrophe.

Juliette loses some of that fear and shame when she’s with Adam. She falls into his embrace and is able to forget. But as soon as he steps away, she’s vulnerable again. I felt the same blow she felt when she discovered why he can’t touch her, but Adam holds Juliet back by protecting her the way he does. As soon as he’s gone, she feels like a monster again.

But Warner, ahhh Warner. I don’t have words of my own. Only his:

“You,” and he whispers it, letter by letter he presses the word into my skin before he hesitates. Then. Softer. His chest, heaving harder this time. His words, almost gasping this time. “You destroy me.”

I mean, seriously? Seriously.

“I want you,” he says. He says “I want all of you. I want you inside and out and catching your breath and aching for me like I ache for you.”

And if that weren’t enough…

“I want so many things,” he whispers. “I want your mind. Your strength. I want to be worth your time.” His fingers graze them hem of my top and he says “I want this up.” He tugs the waist of my pants and says “I want these down.” He touches the tops of his fingers to the sides of my body and says, “I want to feel your skin on fire. I want to feel your heart racing next to mine and I want to know it’s racing because of me, because you want me. Because you never,” he says, he breathes, “never want me to stop. I want every second. Every inch of you. I want all of it.”

He swallows, hard, his chest heaving, his words a breathless, shaky whisper when he says “I’m so–I’m so desperately in love with you.”

So, let me ask, why should an author be condemned to keeping two characters together just because she started with them that way? And why can’t there for once be a story where the bad guy gets the girl? Where the villain gets a second chance at changing and a happily ever after? Because I really, really want that to happen with Warner and Juliette. And I was fist-pumping through the last page of this book, because it did for me what I’ve been waiting for. Life is about growth, about finding people who make you feel better about who you are. About finding yourself. And in the end…

This time I am a force. A deviation of human nature. I am living, breathing proof hat nature is officially screwed, afraid of what it’s done, what it’s become. And I’m stronger. I’m angrier. I’m ready to do something I’ll definitely regret and this time I don’t care. I’m done being nice. I’m done being nervous, I’m not afraid of anything anymore.

Hell-fucking-yeah.

I’ll be waiting for the next one, Ms. Mafi.

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