Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.
STOP. Below are spoilers for Shatter Me and Destroy Me. If you haven't read either of these books, DO NOT CONTINUE. Go back, read the books, then read this review. Okay, now you may continue.

Wait, I lied. Before you continue, you need to know this as well. There are many glowing reviews of Unravel Me floating around in the blogosphere. This is not one of them. I had some major issues with this book, and I may be snarky in my explanations. If your blood pressure can't handle it, walk away. However, if you can handle it, and you'd like to know of the many things I did like about this book, keep reading.

Unravel Me does several things very, very right, and it also does (in my opinion) several things very, very wrong.

RIGHT: Juliette's regression.

I found Juliette's regression in the beginning of the book to be completely fascinating. Though safe at Omega Point, the underground bunker's constricting spaces remind her too much of the asylum. With her movements watched and restricted, she begins to feel claustrophobic and falls back on her old behaviors. Being free of one's captors doesn't mean immediate emotional and psychological release, as sufferers of PTSD can attest. I thought the fact that Juliette didn't immediately turn into Wonder Woman after the close of Shatter Me was spot on.

WRONG: Juliette is a special snowflake.


But oh my gosh, did she have to be so emo!? Juliette whines constantly. She whines, she freaks out when people confront her, she apologizes what feels like every other page, and she stutters (often while apologizing!). Oh, and several times she declares that she should be dead or she should die or it's her destiny to die. Kenji (we'll get to him in a bit) does an excellent job of giving her a verbal slap to the face a couple times, but then she reverts back to her old ways.

Blow your nose, stop crying, stop running whenever you feel "overwhelmed," stop assuming everyone hates you (how self-centered is that!), and stop. freaking. stuttering. I stopped counting how many times I read some variation of "I-I'm s-so sorry! I'm so s-sorry! Oh my gosh, I'm so..."

It's funny, because Juliette displayed all of these behaviors (minus the stuttering) in Shatter Me, and it didn't bother me. I guess I was expecting some kind of progress after however many hundreds of pages. I got so annoyed that I even made a list.

Juliette is only good for:
1. Being emo
2. Apologizing
3. Flushing/crying
4. Keeping secrets (that blow up in her face)
5. Causing trouble


Sigh.

RIGHT: Twists!

Holy guacamole. Ms. Mafi KILLS IT with the twists. I couldn't stop reading. On every page, it felt like we were learning some new vital piece of information. Just when I thought I knew everything, THERE'S MORE! This right here is the reason most reviews won't talk about the actual plot of Unravel Me. Too many twists! Well, not too many. There's no such thing.

Look! I made you another list, this time of things we learn in Unravel Me. However, I only listed some of them. There are far, far more.

Things we learn:
Why Adam can touch Juliette
Why Warner can touch Juliette
How the special people's powers work
How Juliette got her notebook
How Kenji met Castle and joined Omega Point
Warner's first name(!)

Again, this is maybe only half the list. Be prepared to hyperventilate at least once during this book.

WRONG: Purple prose, so purple like the purple-y purple of the underside of a bruise...


Like Juliette's behaviors, the purple prose in Unravel Me was just as present in Shatter Me, but it didn't bother me there. In Unravel Me, I found myself skipping entire paragraphs of purple prose. I skimmed pages!  I never skim pages in review books, but I did here. I just didn't care. There were plot twists to unravel and new information to discover. I didn't have time to listen to Juliette describe the sun five different ways.

That said, the purple pose does hit the sweet spot a few times, as it does in this passage:
So I have to remember that Warner and I are 2 different words.

We are synonyms but not the same.

Synonyms know each other like old colleagues, like a set of friends who have seen the world together. They swap stories, reminisce about their origins and forget that though they are similar, they are entirely different, and though they share a certain set of attributes, one can never be the other. Because a quiet night is not the same as a silent one, a firm man is not the same as a steady one, and a bright light is not the same as a brilliant one because they wedge themselves into a sentence changes everything.
RIGHT: Kenji

Squee, Kenji! Like Roar in Through the Ever Night, Kenji went from being a (for me) forgettable character in the first book to a beloved friend in the second. Kenji is awesome. He puts Juliette in her place and snaps her out of her funk when no one else can or will. He's funny and relaxed, but he's also very responsible and incredibly smart. I went from thinking he was annoying to freaking out whenever anyone tried to harm a hair on his precious head. (But Kenji, if you could cool it with the profanities, I would appreciate it. Much love, bro.)

WRONG: Adam

Ugh, Adam. I was never a big fan of yours. I know you're supposed to be this sensitive, kind, protective hunk of perfection, but I always found you pretty bland. I think the lack of James in this book hurt you, because that's when you were the most interesting. You followed Juliette down the mopey emo path, and it was not pretty.

Clearly, not everyone will agree with me, but that's how I feel. Also, I can't say how without dipping my toe into spoilery waters, but at one point in my reading I stopped and wrote in my notes: ADAM = BELLA. And I laughed uproariously.

RIGHT: Warner

Okay, that's so a lie.
Warneeeeeer! I know, I know, I'm biased, but I adored seeing more of my guy in this book. After reading Destroy Me, I wanted every page to be saturated with Warner. I didn't get my wish, but you can bet I enjoyed every moment he had "on screen."

I don't remember who said it, but I was talking with Twitter friends and someone said that while Warner might not have atoned for his sins in Unravel Me, he certainly made strides toward redemption. [Whoever you are, I'm sorry I forgot! Wave your hand and I'll give you credit.] We learn so much more about Warner, and I love him to pieces. To quote Molli Moran (@CourageousGrace), in Unravel Me, Warner and Juliette have proven to be much healthier and balanced together than clingy Adam and Juliette.

Also, HE HAS DIMPLES!

WRONG: Chapter Sixty-Two (and other similar passages).

Blasphemy, I know. 99% of you will adore the infamous Chapter Sixty-Two. I, however, found that chapter and similar "sexy" passages to be a little much. I felt voyeuristic! It made me uncomfortable. I prefer emotional connection, longing looks, and deep, heartfelt talks to romps in underwear. So maybe it's not wrong and just... wrong for me.

RIGHT: That ending!


Yep, the ending is awesome. First of all, there's quality Warner time that made me sigh and swoon. Forget Chapter Sixty-Two. I want his point of view for Chapters Sixty-Nine through Seventy-Three. Also, Juliette shows real strides toward ditching her fragile special snowflake persona. And lastly, the ending sets up some major drama in the next book. Like, I-don't-think-Juliette-can-talk-her-way-out-of-this-one drama.

~~*~~

So here's my heart in all this. I want you all to be prepared. I want you to take the wrongs and tuck them in your pocket or throw them away as you feel like it, but I want you to know they exist. That way when you read Unravel Me, you'll be prepared. If you're prepared, you'll be able to enjoy the rights to their fullest potential.

Points Added For: Read the post.

Points Subtracted For: Read the post.

Good For Fans Of: Shatter Me, lots and lots of twists, whiny MCs, love triangles.

Notes For Parents: Language, death, heavy making out (but no actual sex)

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