Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Review: Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi

I usually don't get too excited over in-between novellas. The real action and meat happens in the full-length novels in the series, and I find that novellas are usually small stories about one character and one event that do add to the story, but aren't completely necessary when reading the series. I bought "Unravel Me", the second installment to the "Shatter Me" series by Tahereh Mafi, yesterday (check out the review here!), and came across "Destroy Me", a novella that's #1.5 in the series. When I read that it's told from the perspective of Warner, the supposed bad guy in the story, I decided to give it a go--it's always juicy to see things from another point of view!

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal gunshot wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any hint of rebellion in his sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of the two traitors who helped her escape, Adam and Kenji. Especially Adam. The one Juliette fell for. But when Warner's father, the Supreme Commander of the Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son's mistakes, it's clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

There's something about a story told from a male perspective. Maybe it's because so many YA books out there are single-handedly narrated by the female heroine, but seeing things from Warner's point of view was exciting and different. Not to mention the fact that he's the villain in the series, which gave Ms. Mafi plenty to play with in terms of character development. I was surprised to see the real depth of Warner's feelings toward Juliette. In "Shatter Me", I thought he was a slightly deranged, power-obsessed, manipulative spoiled boy wanting to exert his dominance over a girl who's different because of her defiance. But after reading "Destroy Me", I felt like I really got to know another side of Warner, one that's vulnerable and honest. It's one of those cases where once you learn more about the antagonist and his background, you empathize with him and maybe even care for him a little.

I also liked the difference in the narrative voice. Since "Shatter Me" and "Unravel Me" are both told from Juliette's perspective, I've grown accustomed to her style of narration. But with Warner, everything's different. It's more ordered and straightforward, but at the same time it still reveals his emotions and thoughts in his own, unique way. He seems a lot more human to me now, someone with real troubles and flaws and worries, despite his facade of perfection and order.

Reading "Destroy Me" also gave me a little more insight into what's in store for Juliette, Adam and the resistance. And this comes in the form of the seriously cold and callous Supreme Commander. He's just a total buttwipe, and I could really see why Warner's the way he is now. Because of his father and his background, Warner's become a truly complex character with layers to him that are exciting and interesting to peel off and discover one by one.

Overall, "Destroy Me" is definitely worth reading right before reading "Unravel Me", exposing the vulnerable, raw nature inside Warner and revealing to the readers another side of the calculating villain that they saw in "Shatter Me". I finished the short novella in a little less than an hour, so it's a quick read that's worth the time. In fact, it's really made me even more interested and excited for the sequel, so that I can see how their little love triangle unfolds!

Rating: 5/5

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