Addictive and a Bit Deceptive | Review: Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi

1:27 AM

[bouncing around in excitement] Defy Me had lots of Kenji, SO may plot twists and gave me a lot of thoughts.


The gripping fifth installment in the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Shatter Me series. Will Juliette’s broken heart make her vulnerable to the strengthening darkness within her?

Juliette’s short tenure as the supreme commander of North America has been an utter disaster. When the children of the other world leaders show up on her doorstep, she wants nothing more than to turn to Warner for support and guidance. But he shatters her heart when he reveals that he’s been keeping secrets about her family and her identity from her—secrets that change everything.

Juliette is devastated, and the darkness that’s always dwelled within her threatens to consume her. An explosive encounter with unexpected visitors might be enough to push her over the edge.

Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi 
Rating: ★★★★★

"I want to remember to celebrate more. I want to remember to experience more joy. I want to allow myself to be happy more frequently. I want to remember, forever, this look on Aaron's face, as he's bullied into blowing out his birthday candles for the very first time.

This is, after all, what we're fighting for, isn't it?

A second chance at joy."

Look at where we are. Look at where we started. Oh my God. I'm in awe. I can't believe this is the same set of characters. Defy Me is a game changer for the series as a whole. It's turned me to mush. Something about this bloody book and its backstory--how Juliette/Ella and Warner are always drawn to each other no matter the circumstances or time length--makes me obscenely happy.

I never thought I'd love them like I do, but here we are. They're reaching OTP status.

And, okay, listen. My review may bounce all over the place. I feel wired because this book really got under my skin in a good way. I can't really pinpoint why or how, but it pretty much had me in a chokehold from the first page. Oh, yes, Defy Me was enthralling. The odds of me coherently explaining why I loved it are slim and you guys may just end up seeing me say, "I like Mafi and book."

Which, you know, makes sense. If you close your eyes.

But, let's go back a bit:

Tahereh Mafi keeps getting better and better. Where to begin... where to begin... I never thought I'd love Shatter Me quite like I do. That seems like a good place to start. And, in all honesty, I never thought I'd like this three book extension to the original trilogy, either. At the time, I was content with how it ended. It felt finished. Now, I realize, Mafi still had so much life to breathe into these characters and I'm so, so glad it's not finished.

Also, Defy Me had SO many revelations and SO much Kenji. Which is hitting all the sweet spots with me. I'm pretty much president of the Kenji fanclub at this point and he was the novels bright spot guiding us through the darkness.

Completely addictive and a bit deceptive, Defy Me is one of the best installments in Mafi's beloved series. It is impossible to put it down and step away, even in the moments where you want to. We're talking heart-pounding action and romance; revelations, friendship, doubt, more backstory and worldbuilding. I couldn't look away. I couldn't allow myself to do so.

I am completely breathless. It's no secret that, during the original trilogy, I wasn't a fan of Aaron Warner at all. It's been an interesting journey for his character arc and he is fast becoming one of my favourite characters of all time. I have no idea when that happened but here's the thing: Mafi sneaks up on her readers constantly, leading us into some sort of comfort (or theories) before she pulls the rug out from under us and honestly I love her for it.

Defy Me felt very much so like the entire world shifted just enough to make us second guess a lot of things and the view is now completely different in a pleasantly surprising way. It feels like a whole new world, a whole new story. There were so many great moments in the novel which, as per usual, is highly character driven. I felt myself slipping into this world easily and enjoyed the split narration between Juliette, Warner and Kenji.

I loved seeing more of Nazeera, who is definitely a new favourite of mine. Knowing (or trying to figure out) her motives was a tricky path but I love the complexities she brings. Plus, her history with Juliette (er, Ella) and the blossoming dynamic she's got going on with Kenji is giving me all kinds of feelings. Her memories play a huge part in Defy Me and the story wouldn't be the same without her.

I loved seeing the evil in this world (I.E., the parents in the Reestablishment) and just how cold they are willing to be to get their ways. It's always good to have a chilling villain around. In Defy Me's case, we have several.

Lastly, I loved seeing Juliette/Ella get back to who she once was in more ways than one. Even if it pained me to watch her on this specific journey. Our girl has gone through much and so have the others. I can't imagine the weight she's always had to carry on her shoulders and now, in the aftermath of Defy Me, knowing what she has to do next? Yikes.

Basically, and apparently an unpopular opinion, I totally lived and breathed this book for an entire day. Something about it was so compelling and dark and torturous but also hopeful and sweet. I'm glad we got some answers and were able to set the stages for the finale. I like to think of it as the calm before the storm.

If you've found yourself thinking that Shatter Me has already reached peak tragedy and twisted itself into enough plot twist knots, Defy Me is here to prove you wrong. This book destroyed me and picked up the pieces to put me back together again by the final pages. Romantic, engaging and fast paced, Defy Me defied all expectations as a sequel and I can't wait for the next book.

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