Ignite Me is the conclusion to Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series, a young adult dystopian romance. If you haven’t read the series but plan to, skip to the review of the first book in the series because this review will contain major spoilers. Harper Collins | Kindle Edition | 2014 | 421 pp
In this world, the nefarious Reestablishment has taken advantage of an environmental crisis and used it to take over the world by issuing false promises. When the people realized what kind of fascism it had allowed to rule, it was too late. Go with the flow or be executed. Also in this world of poverty, communism, and military rule is a small contingent of people who have developed strange new powers – much like the X-Men. They come together to use these powers to fight back against the Reestablishment.
In Shatter Me, Juliette had been imprisoned in an asylum because of her ability to kill with a touch. She was rescued by her old friend-turned-flame Adam and brought to the resistance at Omega Point. In Unravel Me, Juliette pushes Adam away because she’s afraid she might harm him and develops a possible connection to Warner, her former and misunderstood captor and son of the Supreme Commander. Warner also has powers and can touch Juliette without consequence. At the end of Unravel Me, Juliette was executed by Warner’s father and brought back to life with help from Warner and two healers.
Ignite Me begins with Juliette waking up in Warner’s rooms in the Reestablishment compound. The attack is over, and Warner tells her that her friends are dead, Omega Point had been bombed, and it wasn’t his call. Warner only wanted to save Juliette. Warner proves what happened by bringing Juliette to the bomb site, but Kenji is there – alive. Warner disappears, afraid Kenji will kill him, and Kenji brings Juliette to Adam’s old quarters where a handful of survivors including Adam and his younger brother are hiding out.
Juliette is overjoyed to see her old friends alive and she explains what happened to her after being caught by the Reestablishment. She also relays how Warner had been the one to save her – and how he wants to help to bring down his own father, the Supreme Commander. Adam balks, and throws a whole bunch of shade at Juliette. It’s clear to everyone that she has more than just a friendship with Warner, former public enemy #1.
With some reluctance, Warner proves his loyalty to the resistance by providing them with training quarters, food, hot water, safety, and weapons. Together, and with an increasingly belligerent Adam, they hatch a plan to lure the Supreme Commander and bring him down.
Well, she did it. Mafi found a way to get Adam out of the picture by turning him into a complete monster. For those of us who were still shipping a Juliette/Adam romance, refusing to be lured in by bad boy Warner, the author destroyed all hopes of that safe harbor by making it impossible for Juliette to forgive Adam. Some words are unforgivable. On top of that, Warner is shown to be severely misunderstood, fragile even, and in need of rescuing by Juliette. Furthermore (the best part of the book), Juliette exhibits huge character growth. In the first book Juliette was whiny and self-absorbed. Now she has morphed into a strong warrior and this change in her personality changes her relationships with others, especially with Adam.
Still, I didn’t want it to go there. If you’re going to start a series with the dreaded insta-love, it better end with the same romance. In this case, it did not – which I found disappointing.
Another problem I had is that we never found out what caused these super powers in certain people. What was it? Radioactive spiders? The Night of the Comet? A viral pandemic? No mention of any possibility is even hinted at which is a gaping plot hole in my opinion. Perhaps one of the companion novellas tackled this issue and if so, it is something that most assuredly should have been mentioned in the main books.
In all, this is the grand finale of typical YA dystopian series that boasts insta-love, a love triangle, super powers, and the much loved bad boy. Ignite Me seals the deal of book series to avoid.
by Tahereh Mafi