Book Review: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Posted April 25, 2014 by Stormy in Books / 10 Comments

Ignite Me

by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me

Original Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Length: 416 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins

Obtained Via: Bought
Format Read In: Hardback
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the story morning glory

Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she’ll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew – about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam – was wrong.

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Ah, Ignite Me. The trilogy finale that was going to answer all the questions: Is Juliette really as crazy as she seems? Is she going to pick between Adam and Warner or will she decide to leave them both behind? Will the Reestablishment be toppled? Is Warner a pyscopath or just misunderstood? Why is Kenji so awesome? Well I will say that Ignite Me does answer those questions(except the source of Kenji’s awesomeness), sometimes satisfactory, sometimes not.

All right, let’s get this out of the way: the love triangle resolved. Was I happy with the way it resolved? Eh, it was okay. And not because of the “winner” of the love triangle, but because how we got to that point. Basically, Mafi just totally regresses and plays withe everyone’s character in an annoying fashion. Oh, you thought this and this about so and so? You’re wrong. Oh, you were so certain X person would always be this and that? Nope, had you fooled the entire time!

While I understand this happens throughout novels all the time, the sheer extreme of this character regression and twisting seemed. . . cheap, I supposed. People change and grow, and of course some people become worse in a Dystopia environment, but it all just seemed too convenient.

That being said, some characters had much better arcs in Ignite Me. Namely, Juliette. She’s come so far! I don’t think there’s a single strike-through in this book, and while she’s still prone to metaphors and flowerly language, everything is less overwrought and jumbled up in that head of hers. She’s ready to grow into who she could always be. She’s learned how to control her power and how to do almost anything. It’s amazing to see how far Juliette has come since Shatter Me. . . and how far certain characters can regress. So check plus for character progression for some people, a big fat X for character regression for others.

Now, let’s talk about plot in Ignite Me. There is none until the last quarter. People hide. People run. Juliette thinks about her feelings. Juliette talks to Kenji about her feelings and his feelings. Juliette decides Kenji is her best friend(a move of which I wholeheartedly approve. Kenji is the best). As the characters say themselves:

“So what do you guys do all day?” I ask, trying desperately to make conversation. We’re all sitting on the floor, eating bowls of granola. We woke up late, at breakfast late. No one has bothered to clean up the blankets yet, and Warner is suppose to be here in about an hour.

“Nothing,” Ian says.

“We try not to die, mostly,” Winston says.

It’s boring as hell,” Lily says.”

People move from place to place, but that’s about the extent of the plot until Juliette comes up with her plan halfway through the book. And while parts of the plan are excellent and I totally applaud Juliette for taking initiative, one part made me roll my eyes. Juliette decides that once the Reestablishment has been overthrown, she should be the leader. . . and everyone goes along with this. Guys, this is the worst plan ever. Juliette’s come out of her mountain of crazy, sure, but she’s still learning how to interact with people. She’s had a friend for the first time in her life. She’s barely even been able to manage her own life, and everyone’s totally cool with letting Juliette rule the country with her superhuman strength? Please. If anyone, it should be, you know, the people who were leaders of Omega Point.

Another aspect I just HAVE to mention is the world-building. Now, the strength of this series has never been the world-building, and I knew that going into Ignite Me. I was prepared to take everything at face value. But then twice Kenji makes pop culture references. Really? Pop culture references? He mentions the Power Rangers and Bruce Lee. Again, SERIOUSLY? This is a Dystopia world who-knows-how-many-years-in-the-future and I’m suppose to believe these people have access to that kind of entertainment history? I know it’s a smaller thing, but it bugged me so much because it’s precisely such a small thing. Those references so easily could have been left out.

All my complaints aside, I did actually enjoy Ignite Me . . . just not as much as the first two books, and especially not as much as Unravel Me. I also think Ignite Me has more fundamental flaws. The highlight of Ignite Me is Mafi’s prose. Now that Juliette isn’t thinking in strike-throughs and crazy metaphors, the words themselves actually get the chance to shine. And yes, it’s still quite flowery if that’s not your thing, but I thought several passages were completely beautiful.

Words, I think, are such unpredictable creatures.

No gun, no sword, no army or king will ever be more powerful than a sentence. Swords may cut and kill, but words will stab and stay, burying themselves in our bones to become corpses we carry into the future, all the time digging and failing to rip their skeletons from our flesh.

So in conclusion, was Ignite Me a fitting trilogy ender? Eh. . . I enjoyed it, but I thought it was weaker than the first two books, and I’m disappointed in parts, while I enjoyed others much more than the previous books. I’d say it was a decent to good book, but all in all, not quite the best ending.

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The words shone in Ignite Me. . . but I believe it may have been at the expense of the plot. Hardly anything happens for such a long time in the book, but Mafi kept me entertained with pretty words and some dramatics. Some characters had fantastic stories, others less so. It didn’t leave me disliking the trilogy by any means, but I thought it could have been stronger. 3/5 cupcakes.

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3 Stars

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10 responses to “Book Review: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

  1. I definitely loved the writing in Ignite Me. To be fair, I love the writing in the whole series so much that even if there are parts I’m disappointed in or don’t love – I still really enjoy the way it’s written.

    I’m with you on the character regressions. It seemed like all the characters needed to have a 180 turn to match Juliette’s (and I really liked hers). But from where some people started out – a 180 turn didn’t give them a good place to go and I had hoped for a better place for them to end up.

    • Stormy

      I think the writing was a little *too* overwrought in Shatter Me, but Mafi is definitely talented. I loved how as the series went on the writing style reflected Juliette’s mental state! Yup, lots of character 180s. I do sorta get it, but I also felt a bit disappointed as a reader.

  2. Kelly

    I’ve been seriously considering a re-read of this whole series, going in with my new expectations and seeing what the result is.

    I rated this one quite high, but it was because I was finally happy with where Juliette was. There’s a big part of me that feels like it ended where the series should have began, and so much of me agrees with everything you said. I definitely gut-rated this high, and with some reflection, think it wouldn’t hold up so well with a re-read.

    • Stormy

      I think a re-read would be really interesting, especially knowing what the focus is.
      Juliette’s character really did progress beautifully. . . I just wish there hadn’t been some regression for other characters.

  3. Cait

    Yesss! You summed up most of my thoughts exactly! While I think this is the best book of the three, gah, I think it really suffered having zero plot and not much world development. I had NO answers about why the world was the way it was. But Juliette was awesome. I loved how she really took control of herself. And I think Warner + Juliette was actually quite awesome. I shipped them. Though I kind of felt that Adam acted HUELY weirdly. A bit out of character??

    • Stormy

      The world was really intriguing too, so I wanted more world building!
      Juliette has come so far! I don’t ship anyone in this book, really. Never has there been a love triangle where I wanted the girl to choose NO ONE. But ah, well.

    • Stormy

      Yeah, I don’t even know if you can say Ignite Me had a plot. And it DID feel like a cop out. That was not character progression, that was straight regression, at least on Adam’s part.

  4. I can definitely agree with all of your review! I was so disappointed with how little plot was in this book and how much more emotion Mafi thought needed to be fleshed out. I still want to know what happens to the world, not who Juliette picks!! haha! That said, I still loved the whole darn thing because I love Mafi’s writing. But I nodded all the way through your review! 😉

    • Stormy

      Yes! The plots were never the strongest but Ignite Me’s was particularly MIA. AND YET. . . I liked it, even when I didn’t really care about the end of the love triangle. Something about the writing just worked for me, though I do hope Mafi tries her hand at something with a stronger plot at some point.

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