Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Novella Review: DESTROY ME by Tahereh Mafi

In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. 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.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel MeDestroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.
We settle in Warner's head almost immediately after he is shot by Juliette. Juliette has run away to find Adam, leaving Warner in a pool of his own blood. His men scurry around him, "led" by the ever-faithful Delalieu. Without their fearsome leader for a moment, Sector 45 is already in shambles.

In the beginning, the anti-Warner readers among us will feel right at home. He is everything we have been taught that he is. He is ruthless and self-contained. His own right-hand man quakes in his presence. He hates disorder. He hates messes. He organizes his closet by shade like a Pantone chip catalog. He hates being barefoot and showers with an almost OCD drive. His mind is a carefully cataloged room of drawers, which can be carefully wiped into a blank white when needed.

This is the Warner most people expect.

Until the simple thought of Juliette makes his knees buckle.

Warner-haters, prepare to have your world rocked. I'm not promising that you'll like him by the end of this novella. I'm not saying you'll adore him as much as I do. But you WILL be changed. At the very least, you'll have a better understanding of how Warner became what he is and why he made the choices that he made in Shatter Me.
I blink back the flood of disaster pressing against the small world I've built; I swallow hard against the fear creeping up my throat. I push the walls back, making more space in the room until I can finally breathe. Until I'm able to stand.
First of all, let me say that I love Warner's man Delalieu. You may remember him as the man who read off the charges for the guy that Warner shot. Brief, forgettable, nothing. In Destroy Me, Delalieu is the only one happy that Juliette didn't blow Warner's head off. He is also the one most likely to prompt Warner into moments of humanity.

You'll see several of those moments of humanity throughout Destroy Me. Several of Warner's more despicable moments from Shatter Me are explained. Some I had already guessed, but some made me guess. (Shooting that one guy in the head? He totally had a reason.)

But really, it's hard not to see Warner as human when compared next to his father, the Supreme Leader of the Reestablishment, a man with a black hole for a heart. The man is pure evil. He's like a less charismatic Billy Dent from I Hunt Killers, but just as bloody. Ooh! No, he's like The Commander from Defiance, except some poor woman actually had to MARRY him to give him a child (Warner).

Seriously, the man gives me shudders, which is hard to do.

However, the best part of the novella, in my opinion, is getting inside Warner's brain to find out how he really sees Juliette. How long he's really watched her, what he really thinks of her powers, and the real reason he brought her to the compound were all fascinating answers to learn. About that last bit, yes he lied about why he removed her from the asylum. You're surprised?

Personally, once I was inside Warner's head, I just wanted to scoop him up and hug him and tell him everything would be alright. Poor guy.

Whew, this review is long for such a short story. Better wrap it up. Bottom line: Read the story. If you're a pro-Warner, you'll love it. If you're anti-Warner, you'll at least know you're enemy better. And if you're simply pro-Juliette, well, you'll get to know her better, too. I promise. Now go read.