Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Happy Valentine's Day! There's nothing like 24 hours dedicated to romance for curling up in bed (alone, or with that special someone) all warm and cozy. I spent the night before rapidly finishing up "Unravel Me", the sequel to "Shatter Me" by Tahereh Mafi. I recently wrote a review for "Destroy Me", the in-between novella that takes place between the first and second installment, and dove straight into the second book afterwards, right into a whirlwind story of adventure and romance.

It's almost time for war. Juliette has escaped to Omega Point, the headquarters of the rebel resistance. It is a place for people like her, people with inexplicable powers who are ready to use them to take down the Reestablishment. Although Juliette is free from their plans to use her as a weapon, free to love Adam, she will never be free from her lethal touch. Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible. With tensions rising and war approaching, Juliette must break free from her past, so that she can finally discover who she can be.

The one thing that I really have to start with is that inevitable love triangle. You saw it coming! Because it plays such a central role in the novel, the love triangle really had to be executed skillfully. By this I mean no heroine selfishly playing around with both boys, or thinking, "he's so hot, why is this happening, his eyes!" while at the same time telling herself, "no, this is the boy I'm supposed to be with". You catch my drift. Admittedly, there definitely was some of that, but I think Ms. Mafi did a good job in somehow not letting Juliette get overly annoying and frustrating with her complicated feelings towards both Adam and Warner. In fact, when I was reading a particular chapter between Warner and Juliette, I swear my heart was going to burst out of my chest! It was just so, so, so full of emotion and charged with tension--you really have to read it to understand what I'm raving about. I don't know whether it's because I read "Destroy Me" and was able to delve into Warner's perspective and really see the depths of his emotions and his vulnerability, but I kind of found myself straying away from Adam and leaning towards Warner! Adam's kind of too boring for me. That emotionally-charged chapter certainly didn't hurt either... I swear I was going to pee in my pants.

Speaking of which, I found Warner's character development to be pretty excellent and fitting for this phase in Juliette's story. To see his real vulnerability and love for Juliette, as well as his twisted relationship with his father, really allowed me to empathize and feel for him. It's also important to note that this development wasn't sudden, since Ms. Mafi had previously woven in these threads of Warner's other side, the side that isn't power-hungry and calculating. Instead, it was very natural and very believable, which is what made the whole love triangle business all the more exciting! Now for Juliette. In the beginning, I kind of found her a little too snivelly, too caught up in her own worries and her past to really do anything useful. But Kenji--witty, brutally honest, kick-ass Kenji--finally brings her out of it, and from that moment onwards, I really saw the change Juliette underwent as she tried to accept herself and her power, and to actually deal with her problems head-on rather than worrying about them.  I definitely think that there's huge potential in the next book for Juliette to become an even stronger heroine, one who learns to gain confidence and independence and take matters into her own lethal hands.

A unique element of the "Shatter Me" series is Juliette's narrative voice. Instead of perfect clauses and perfect sentences, the narrative kind of rambles in long, run-on sentences. I feel like I'm in Juliette's mind, or maybe reading something Juliette's really written herself, especially with the crossed-out sentences where you see her pushing away a thought or a truth or a feeling. I also feel like I've really gotten to know Juliette a lot better through her narration, which is also perfect for building up tension through incomplete sentences and short phrases.

As for the storyline, "Unravel Me" remained fast-paced and compelling throughout its entire length. The stakes are high from the very beginning of the novel, and became even higher at the end. There's a lot of action, especially with the war between the resistance and the Reestablishment, and what creates tension more than fighting? There's also a lot of emotional tension as well, which keeps the pace up and running throughout. The plot also had so many twists and turns that came as huge shockers to me as they were unveiled! The truths that are revealed kind of feel like puzzle pieces falling in place, and everything makes so much sense now.

Overall, "Unravel Me" is not to be missed with its intensely personal narration and compelling storyline, not to mention the crazy love triangle enhanced by the realistically portrayed character development. It's an emotional thriller of a roller coaster, and I just cannot wait until the next installment to see how everything plays out!

Rating: 5/5

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