Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi | Rating: ★★★☆☆
“And we are quotation marks, inverted and upside down, clinging to one
another at the end of this life sentence. Trapped by lives we did not
My first thought on the action-packed finale of the Shatter Me series isn't all that full of praise. Whereas the two which came before it were magical, steamy and thrilling, something about Ignite Me fell short for me. Lackluster would be the accurate way of processing it, really, and that is painful to say--as I loved the first two books. See, the prose was still full of magic and excellence and there was plenty of action and romance, but something about this installment left me feeling less than what I'd desired or come to expect.
This isn't to say it wasn't good. It is the weak link in the series and that's a damn shame, because I liked where things were going until I didn't. I felt like a lot was rushed and left a weird feeling with me in terms of development. There were moments when the characters grew and reflected who they were in the first two books and then there were the frustrating moments in which you asked yourself, "Who are they?" at familiar faces. While some character growth was pleasing and made sense, there were other things that felt chopped up and off. You know, the very opposite of character growth and I hated it.
Don't get me wrong--I don't hate the book, the author, or the characters... I just felt like the actions of some characters didn't feel true to how I envisioned them.
And whereas this surprising turn of events (or frustratingly unsurprisingly for many, I'm sure) could have really worked to our advantage and played up the thrills at the end of the day, it fell short and out of the blue in ways that I can't explain. It was like this: we know a character and suddenly they aren't who we thought they were and with no explanation as to the why's or the how's and there was certainly no closure on that part.
Or, as it happens, a lot of things. I felt like this wasn't a conclusion. I felt like we left a lot of things unanswered or unacknowledged and it irked me to feel as such. Ignite Me was solid, definitely, but it wasn't the picture ending to a fantastically suspenseful series. Mafi's writing was on point and beautifully dark and descriptive and seductive, but there was something missing from the ender--a big, gaping hole of "wait, what?" that left me highly unsatisfied and frankly a little confused.
That being said: the goods! I loved seeing Juliette grow to love and accept her powers and herself and felt that this was, perhaps, the biggest satisfying bit of the novel and the only saving grace. I liked her scenes of self discovery and the overall romantic feel. I liked seeing the exploration of her power and getting to see her as the leader we all knew she would be. A position of power is hard to stomach but who better than our beautiful girl? I also enjoyed her friendship with Kenji, even more than usual, and appreciated her determination in finding Sara and Sonya.
Most of all, I liked her being the one to (spoiler) put an end to the scum bag we all know as Anderson--aka Aaron, James and Adam's dad. I thought this was a really beautiful thing but honestly, who didn't?
I admit it now, too, that I really enjoyed her interactions with Aaron or Warner, whichever you prefer. I thought his whole "coming clean" business was a bit odd and rushed but it made sense. I liked how protective they are of each other and how they've developed from the start of the series in a way that surprises readers. I'm still not his number one fan, mind you, and up until this book I had preferred her either alone or with Adam.
(I need to say that I hated Adam in this one and thought the entire thing was a bit of a cheap twist. He was terribly cruel and once again it was out of the blue, much like with Aaron/Warner's changes. It all felt weird and choppy to me, but I still didn't necessarily hate the endgame. I was a little confused at the whole idea of Aaron/Adam bonding in the future or at the very least spending time with each other. I mean, come on.)
I expected more from it and maybe that's my problem, not the stories. I do wish we had more to go off on when it comes to loose ends: Aaron and Adam's role reversal, why Adam was so quick to cruelty, what Warner feels now that he knows he has two brothers (meaning from his narration), how he feels losing the mother he loved and the father he hated (sadness and joy tangled, but I wanted to feel more of that reaction) how Sara and Sonya are doing now that they are back with their friends/family, more of Juliette as the leader, Kenji backstory, generally more of Kenji, how their world progresses from this point on now that Anderson is dead, etc etc.
Overall, there were a lot of plus and negatives to Ignite Me and I have many mixed feelings regarding, well, everything. But it was far from a terrible read and I could probably scroll through anything Mafi writes because she offers an incredibly beautiful and unique tone/atmosphere that is easy to get lost in. There were many things to complain about in my review but there are just as many things to be cheerful over. If you're looking for a quick read, then the Shatter Me trilogy is fun and right up your alley.