February 11, 2013

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

I'm relieved the Cover Gods decided to repackage this series. The "I'm gonna eat you for breakfast" model photo from the original cover of Shatter Me was seven different kinds of wrong. The only thing I loved about that original cover was the slashed title. I do miss that and kind of wish they'd ported it over in the repackaging. And while I'm not a huge fan of the sky blue and pink they've opted for in the new covers, I applaud the general direction and the nod to some of the overarching themes of the series. Most of all, I hope it reels in new readers for Tahereh Mafi, because she (and her books) really deserve them. Not long back, I caved and read Destroy Me, the e-novella Ms. Mafi wrote from Warner's perspective. It takes place in between the first and second books, and I finished it even more crazy devoted to that crazy psycho than I was before (and that is saying something). And, of course, I've spent the last handful of months impatiently waiting to see what insanity he would perpetrate next in this the second full novel. And I can tell you now, as far as Warner goes? I was not disappointed.

I do apologize, but beyond this point there be unavoidable spoilers for the first book. Proceed with caution.

Juliette is not adjusting to Omega Point. Not even a little bit. Of course, it's pretty hard to relax and let your guard down when every single unusual inhabitant of the secret haven stares at her askance, afraid they'll accidentally brush up against her and pay the price with their lives. Her reputation, as always, precedes her. And so life at Omega Point is, in many respects, not so different from life at the compound. With Warner. No one is actively trying to kill her, and that is a definite plus. But no one is telling her anything either. And, as the days go by, even Adam grows more and more remote, preoccupied with something he won't can't tell her. The ever-boisterious Kenji tries to bridge the gap by sitting with Juliette in the cafeteria and trying to teach her a little of what they do there and why they need her to get over her inhibitions and put her unparalleled powers to work on their behalf. But she's spent 17 years distancing herself from those around her. It's going to take more than irreverent humor and overtures of friendship to break down the barriers she's erected. It's not until she's allowed out on her first mission that a crack appears in her armor. She comes face to face with Warner once more, and the resulting emotions (on both sides) are . . . not what she expected them to be. It seems he is to play a part in her life whether she likes it or not. The question is, will either of them survive the encounter, whether Warner can touch Juliette or not?
Sticks and stones keep breaking my bones but these words, these words will kill me.
My love for this book is entirely tied up in my love for Warner. This should come as no surprise to any of you. And I fully own up to my inexplicable attachment to this scary, broken antihero. I referred to him as a villain in my review of Shatter Me. But I no longer think of him as such. No, he pretty much singlehandedly slides into antihero territory in this installment. Which is exactly what I was hoping would happen and which just complicates my mess of feelings, all of which mirror Juliette's. But I'm telling you, the scenes in this book that crackle are the scenes in which Warner is in the room. That's all there is to it. It's almost as though he consciously wraps himself in the most urgent and beautiful language Ms. Mafi has at her disposal. And it works like a spell to draw Juliette (and the reader) to him and to his explosive existence. When he's not in the room, the whole thing dims a bit. One of my favorite moments comes when Juliette looks into Warner's face and realizes,
It's the kind of face no one believes in anymore.
And she's right. There's something hesitant and fine about him here and I, for one, was mesmerized. Don't get me wrong. Adam and Juliette's relationship is as sweet as ever, but I did feel as though it relied a bit too much on its portrayal in the first book. That their connection wasn't as present and tangible as it was then. Oh, who are we kidding? It's all about Warner and Juliette for me. Poor Juliette. She doesn't have an easy time of it this go round. I love her. I feel for her and the lot she's been given. Her constant internalization and self-flagellation didn't bother me as I gather it has some other readers. She felt as consistent to me as ever, and I understood and sympathized with her at every turn. Interestingly, I did miss the sweeping, throbbing language of Shatter Me. There are smatterings of it throughout, of course, but it is decidedly dialed down in this sequel. And I missed it. This is ameliorated to a degree by the added humor present in the form of Kenji. The larger-than-life rebel is a razor wit and an utterly welcome addition to the we-take-ourselves-so-seriously-we-can-barely-crack-a-smile duo of Adam and Juliette. They need him. Every nutty denizen of Omega Point needs him. And I giggled helplessly at every arrogant, hysterical word that comes out of his mouth. Humor aside, though, I was a bit bothered by a couple of key plot points, a couple of manipulative moves that took the wind out of the book's sails right when it needed the most momentum. They felt unnecessary to me, too rich for a book already wealthy with words and angst and impossibility. But where Shatter Me wound up to a crazy, out of left field ending, Unravel Me kicks butt and takes names with an ending that shot me to the moon and back. No joke, chapter 62 is enough to lay you out flat. And so I'm gonna leave you with my favorite bit from that most excellent of chapters and hope it gets under your skin enough to send you running to the bookstore to get your own copy.
He's holding me like I'm made of feathers.

He's holding my face and looking at his own hands like he can't believe he's caught this bird who's always so desperate to fly away.His hands are shaking, just a little bit, just enough for me to feel the slight tremble against my skin. Gone is the boy with the guns and the skeletons in his closet. These hands holding me have never held a weapon. These hands have never touched death. These hands are perfect and kind and tender.

And he leans in, so carefully. Breathing and not breathing and hearts beating between us and he's so close, he's so close and I can't feel my legs anymore. I can't feel my fingers or the cold or the emptiness of this room because all I feel is him, everywhere, filling everything and he whispers

"Please."

He says, "Please don't shoot me for this."
Sigh.

Buy: Amazon B&N The Book Depository

Linkage
Babbling About Books, and More - "Team Warner fans, rejoice."
Book Nerd Reviews - "Tahereh Mafi’s writing does something to me."
Gone With the Words - " The anticipation for the final book in this series might kill me."
Into the Hall of Books - "I feel so strongly about everything that happened in this book."
Just a Lil' Lost . . . - "I knew this book was going to be epic, and the more I kept reading the more I was thankfully proven right."
Love is Not a Triangle - "Unravel Me solidified how much I love Tahereh Mafi's writing and these characters."
Refracted Light - "Unravel Me was beautifully delivered and made me absolutely crave the next book."

36 comments:

  1. I thought Warner was a really interesting character as well--and honestly, the primary reason to keep going with the series, hah. (I had mixed reactions to SHATTER ME.) And I've heard things about the infamous Chapter 62!

    Thanks for your review--that excerpt you posted is pretty intriguing. Also, that awkward girl-in-a-fluffy dress original cover was SO weird. Had nothing to do with the story, considering J was in rags pretty much the whole time.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. He's certainly the reason I picked this one up! Wendy, Chapter 62 is worth the whole read. ;)

      That's exactly why I hated the first cover. Utter misrepresentation of the book, but also Juliette's character, which is what really irked me.

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  2. I'm totally adding the first book to my "because Angie said so" shelf on Goodreads. I am intrigued...

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    1. Excellent! Happy to keep populating that shelf, Sarah.

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  3. All I want to do while reading this review is join Team Warner because I AGREE!! Even though I'm Team Adam, I feel SO MANY FEELINGS for Warner! I just...there's SOMETHING holding me back from jumping the Adam ship! I don't know what it is, and I can't explain it. Thanks for making me even more confused, Angie!! :D

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    1. TEAM WARNER, Jess. TEAM. WARNER. :)

      No, I totally get Adam's appeal. I loved him so much in the first book. I loved him here, too. It's an untenable situation, I tell you! Argh.

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  4. Do I EVER want this book...

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    1. It must be yours, Michelle. Do what you need to do.

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  5. High five fellow Warner sister in arms!

    I can't wait to see what happens in the third book. I think more readers will join Team Warner, but I had a feeling it won't end well for him.

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    1. *highfive*

      That's the thing! I finished this one terrified of where the third one would take my beloved characters. I don't want to happen what I'm afraid will happen. *frets*

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    2. I think we can count on many kissy kissy times in book 3.

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    3. At least that. But I want them to be Warner kissy kissy times . . .

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  6. Well, I braved the spoilers even though I haven't read the first book, and I've got to say that I'm intrigued. So many people like this series, I may have to give it a try!

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    1. Ooh. Then the review worked! If you do give it a shot, be sure to let me know. I love hearing people's thoughts on that first book. It's quite something.

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  7. Chapter 62. In the name of Count Rugen, who would deeply understand this sentiment, STOP SAYING THAT. Everyone needs to stop; I CAN'T TAKE IT. Getting under my skin? Is THAT what you call it?

    Gosh, darnit, if I didn't love your reviews so much, I'd lay YOU flat.

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    1. Lol. Ouch. I'm worried about you now. Is a copy going to find its way to you soon?!

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    2. Not soon enough. Apparently, the only existent library copy in my county claims to be "en route" to another "patron." Pssh, whatever THAT means.

      Delete
  8. I guess I'm reading this then huh?

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    1. Warner. You are reading it for Warner. Then you are coming to tell me about your Warnerlove.

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  9. Hey, Warner fans, try to remember . . . he tortured a baby . . . as an experiment . . . for fun. That is just not attractive.

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    1. Hey, Sally! Have you read DESTROY ME or UNRAVEL ME yet? I found that, while they don't excuse any of his horrible actions, they do provide quite a bit of context for why he is the way he is. And what he's gone through is enough to allow me to reserve judgment and see what kind of rehabilitation he is capable of. If any. I guess, I believe his intentions toward Juliette. And I want to see where the whole thing goes.

      But then fictional bad boys are my kryptonite. So to each her own.

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  10. LOL. I'm saving those until I finish a painfully boring writing project I have to wrap up today. So if I get lucky, I'll be able to listen to UNRAVEL ME tomorrow as I dig out my laundry room! I will let you know.

    I may be too old to like fictional bad boys anymore. After watching too many real-life bad boy stories play all the way through to the real-life end, they've lost their sparkle. However, I will try to reserve judgement.

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    1. Nice. She's coming to the King's English next week, btw. I'm looking forward to that.

      I understand they could lose their appeal. It's not that this one sparkles. He sort of does the opposite of sparkling. But he feels . . . realer . . . than any of the other characters to me. And so I'm drawn to his scenes, his dialogue, his thoughts. We'll see how that fares in book three.

      Delete
  11. btw: I LOVE how you keep that killer pict of Mr. Thornton and Margaret up all the time. I think I've watched that last 15 minutes of N&S maybe 80 or 90 times.

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    1. Lol. I just can't take it down. It's a happy spot in my day every time I look over and see it.

      THAT ENDING. Ahhhhhhh.

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    2. Finally got around to UNRAVEL ME--wow, I see your point. Not the Machiavellian villain we met in SHATTER ME. And lots o' backstory--his mother, childhood bedroom, horrible father, and pretty serious superpower. But why was Juliet never concerned that she would also come to hurt Warner? It never came up. I kept waiting for her to at least say, "You really can't touch me for long."

      What did you think of Mafi's appearnce at TKE?

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    3. Yeah, I think her feelings in relation to him are so conflicted she wasn't worried about hurting him. I would imagine she would be now . . .

      She was absolutely delightful, Sally. And extremely personable. One of the more enjoyable author presentations I've had the pleasure of attending.

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  12. OHMYGOODNESS I TOTALLY NEED THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW!!!! I read Shatter Me in the summer and I loved it so much, and i can't believe I haven't read the sequel yet! I love Juliette too as a character <3
    And seriously. You just about killed me with that excerpt. Must read this asap. 0_0

    Catherine :)
    The Book Parade

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    1. Lol. You DO need it right now!

      That chapter . . . I mean WOW.

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  13. I wasn't planning on reading this book for the longest time but I feel like you completely suckered me in with your talk of anti-heroes and promise of less flowery writing. damn you, angie. fabulous review as always :)

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  14. Curse you Angie!

    I read this review and decided to pick up a copy of Shatter Me. What followed was a manic rush to absorb Destroy Me and Unravel Me as well. Now I am left with a book shaped hole that I don't know how to fill. If only the next book was available now.

    Thank you for this review. Wihout it I would not have discovered these incredible books.

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    1. HA! I'd apologize but we both know I wouldn't mean it. ;)

      I felt the same way after finishing each one. WHEN will the next one be out to put me out of my misery?! So would you categorize yourself as more of a Warner fan or an Adam one?

      I'm so glad you blew through them and loved them, Mel.

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  15. Warner all the way! I like my men complicated and sexy!

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