Saturday, December 29, 2012

UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi

Title: UNRAVEL ME (sequel to SHATTER ME)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Number of Pages: 480
Source of Book: ARC from publisher at ALA
Juliette's world is beginning to unravel.
Everything is falling apart changing. 

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point-the headquarters of the rebel resistance. There she discovers other people with abilities. Abilities they have learned to control. And for the first time in her life, Juliette has hope. Hope that she can have a life with Adam. Hope that her touch can be used to save instead of destroy.

But Juliette is only just beginning to understand the depth of her power, and she's struggling to fight the desire to use it. She's still haunted by her past, terrified for her future, and too tempted by Warner, who still wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible. 

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart-and Adam's life.
I am not ok. Reading UNRAVEL ME was an intense experience of emotional upheaval. I was angry I was blown away I was amazed I was hopeful I was hurt I was shocked I was upset I was having to take breaks because the emotion was so intense. I read it 400 pages in one day because I couldn't leave these characters until the end. The title is appropriate because I felt just as unraveled by this book as many of the characters did throughout.

Quick Take: I LOVE Tahereh Mafi's unique writing. I'm emotionally invested in her characters. I hate what some (okay, fine, maybe only one thing one) of them did. This book destroyed me (but in a good way)-it tore me up and then mostly stitched me back together. UNRAVEL ME is an intense reading experience.

Writing style: Tahereh Mafi has this incredibly unique (and effective!) writing style. I loved it in SHATTER ME, and I love it even more in UNRAVEL ME. Emotions swirl off the page and into my psyche. There is so much going on internally in this book with these characters, and I was sucked right into it because of the way in which it's written. There is a bit of a stream-of-consciousness to the style and I am drawn to that. It makes for a sense of urgency and confusion and heart-which is what's happening in the book. It makes the internalness of the conflict for Juliette even stronger because we are so in her head by how it's written. Mafi also has the most brilliant and effective use of personification I've ever read. The way in which she describes things and the figurative language she uses just speaks to me and draws me into this world.

Characters: OK, so the thing is I care a lot about these characters. I feel as if I've been through the rough times with them and I want them to come out on the other side more complete. And that really shows the genius of Tahereh Mafi's writing. That being said, I do NOT agree with all of the decisions that they make (one in particular)! I get that they've gone through hell and back and that they're confused and tortured, but still, there are some things that I just can't agree with no matter how angst-filled the teenager is. OK. Rant over. Beyond that it is really showing the psychological damage done to Juliette and Adam and Warner because of the situations they've been forced into throughout their lives-and things aren't being made any easier for any of them in this book. UNRAVEL ME seems to really be about Juliette's ability to figure out how to harness her strength and become a more stable person. She needs to decide who she wants to be and how to get there. She needs to learn to rely on others to help support her, but to find her strength on her own as well. While all of that is going on, we're also discovering sympathies for some of the other characters as well as we get to know more details about what they went though. I still think Kenji is one of my all-time favorite "sidekick" characters-he brings the much-needed comic relief to the story, but also is the one to put it all in perspective and keep the focus on what it should be. And he's a good friend.  I'm glad we get so much Kenji in this book and hope we get even more in the next.

Plot: The one thing that UNRAVEL ME has that SHATTER ME didn't is more outside world building. We get to understand how their world came to be the way it is, and a little bit more about these special powers some people have. There is a battle brewing with the resistance and it's going to come to a head. But, this book overall seems to be more about the characters to me. There is a major plot point in this book that I really didn't like. I have to put that out there. It's alluded to in the synopsis above, and I don't want to spoil anything too much, but I think it could be kind of controversial to readers and I'll be interested to hear more thoughts about whether people liked it or not. Personally, I get it-the writing and the emotion and the thoughts and the scenes Mafi used leading up to it help me to intellectually get it, but my heart and emotions and soul are not accepting of it. This book is full of emotion, and I think that is the stronger part of the book even over the plot of what's happening. However, if a book can make me feel so much, it has to be a strong story and writing (which I think it is).

Teacher/Parental Warning: This book is not so appropriate for middle schoolers in my opinion. There are certain scenes that are pretty intense/descriptive, so this one won't go in my classroom library. The 14 and up categorization by the publisher is pretty accurate in my mind.

So, yes, if you liked SHATTER ME, you'll definitely want to read UNRAVEL ME. I recommend setting aside some time come February because this is a book that will likely be hard to put down once you start. Based on the ending and where everyone ends up and the thoughts of Juliette on the last page, it's going to be a long wait to get my hands on book three!


    I'm totally dying to read this one and I'm glad it's turned out to be a good read. Great review :)
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  2. I only heard of Shatter Me and am not a huge fan of stream of consciousnesses but you make this sound like a must read. I love new writing styles and you sound so positive about this writer.

  3. I was not a huge fan of Shatter Me- in large part because I listened to the audio version and it made the already drama filled writing that much more pronounced- but I liked Warner. So of course, I had to read Unravel Me. I can honestly say that I didn't have any real plans to continue with the series, but the novella changed my mind. Adam's a nice guy, but Warner and Juliette are two sides of a coin.