YA Review: IGNITE ME by Tahereh Mafi

Eventually I’ll get back to middle grade, but there have been a string of YA books in series I’m already reading that have come out in the last few weeks, and I have another one today.

I originally picked up SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi because of Twitter buzz. Although I didn’t fall in love with the main character or the love interest, I was fascinated by Ms. Mafi’s interesting use of language and the intricacies of the plot. She hooked me even without a character I could identify with, and that interest carried through the whole series, including the two e-novellas that fell between the full-length novels. While I enjoyed the first two books, I absolutely loved the final installment, so I’ve decided to only review IGNITE ME. However, you still need to read the first two books–and really the novellas–to get to this one, so if you haven’t read them yet, hold off on reading this review. In fact, STOP READING NOW! Sorry to yell at you, but the following description for IGNITE ME includes spoilers for the earlier books, and so will my review.

Ignite Me by Tahereh MafiThe fate of Omega Point is unknown. Everyone Juliette has ever cared about could be dead. The war could be over before it ever really began.

Juliette is the only one standing in The Reestablishment’s way. She knows that if she’s going to survive, The Reestablisment cannot.

But to take down The Reestablishment and the man who very nearly killed her, Juliette will need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together to bring down their enemy, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew–about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam–was wrong.

Here are the five things I loved most:

1. The use of language – As I mentioned above, Ms. Mafi’s use of language fascinated me from the very beginning. In the first book she extensively used strikethroughs and interesting punctuation to give a unique look inside Juliette’s mind. It kind of blew my mind how perfect it was for the character. As the series continued, Ms. Mafi phased out some of these techniques to show how Juliette grew from someone contained entirely in her own mind to looking outward. I’ve never seen such an interesting use of language as character development.

2. Warner – Oh, I just love Warner. In the first book he was an intriguing villain, but then I read DESTROY ME. After that, he became the broken hero I wanted Juliette to heal. Without that novella, I would have read UNRAVEL ME with a completely different perspective. It’s impressive how Ms. Mafi makes both Juliette’s initial impression and final judgment of Warner so believable.

3. Juliette’s friendship with Kenji – I loved the dynamic between Juliette and Kenji. It brings a lightness that is rare in a story where almost every other relationship is tense. It also kept the story grounded in young adult, as most of their actions and interactions otherwise are very adult.

4. The romantic tension – For me, the best romance is built on tension, and that is evident through all three books. I won’t outright say who Juliette ends up with, but honestly, I don’t think there was any doubt at the end of UNRAVEL ME. Even when I felt like the romance was finally going to be resolved, Ms. Mafi kept building the tension. Sooo good. One caution for younger readers: this book shows more of the physical than a lot of YA. It didn’t seem gratuitous as so much of the story is tied up in Juliette’s issues with touch, but in case any of my MG readers are interested in this story, you might want to hold off.

5. The ending – I did not expect the story to go the way it did, mainly because I couldn’t have anticipated Juliette’s character growing as much as she did in the early part of this book. The climax was a satisfying end to the story. In the acknowledgments, Ms. Mafi said: “It is my very great hope that you will find this a worthy final installment.” From my standpoint, the answer is yes, Ms. Mafi, a very worthy finale.

Who else has read IGNITE ME? I’m happy to discuss spoilers in the comments!


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