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Unravel Me (Shatter Me) Paperback – December 31, 2013
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A Conversation About Author Tahereh Mafi
Kami Garcia is the co-author of the bestselling Beautiful Creatures Novels and Unbreakable. Ransom Riggs is the author of the bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Kami and Ransom got together to talk about Tahereh Mafi, and her new novel Unravel Me.
Ransom Riggs: You are doing a mash-up of your book/series and the Shatter Me series. What’s the title?
Kami Garcia: I would have to go with Beautiful Unraveled Creatures or Unbreakable Me. For your book, it would have to be Miss Peregrine’s Home for Shattered Children.
KG: Describe Tahereh’s novels in one word. You have five seconds…
RR: Adam or Warner. Five seconds…
KG: I only need one second --Warner. People will have to read Unravel Me to find out why.
KG: Between you and Tahereh, who would win in a race?
RR: Tahereh, because she has an amazing collection of shoes, and I’m pretty sure at least one pair has rocket engines in the heels.
RR: Let’s get serious – at least as serious as the two of us can get. It seems like a new dystopian novel is published every day now. What made the Shatter Me series stand out in the crowd for you?
KG: When Shatter Me opens, Juliette is in a cell, and she hasn’t spoken to or touched another person in 264 days. Tahereh had me right there. I hadn’t seen that before, and all I wanted to know was why can’t she touch anyone? Once that question was answered, all I wanted to know was how is Juliette going to get out of this prison and save herself -- and oh, who is this incredibly hot guy, Adam? Every time one of my questions was answered, there was another question waiting. Until three o’clock in the morning when I finished the book, and desperately searched online to find the release date for the sequel.
KG: One of the things that struck me most about Shatter Me & Unravel Me is Tahereh’s writing style. I read a lot of books, and her voice is so unique. It sucked me in immediately, and I felt like I was part of the story. What aspect of the novels stood out to you?
RR: The emotion that radiates from every page. Juliette goes through Hell and back in these books, and though there’s a lot of really compelling action, Tahereh always keeps the reader focused on what Juliette is feeling through it all – and this character feels things very intensely and deeply. Juliette’s inner voice is like nothing I’ve read before.
RR: I know you believe in “the curse of the sequel.” How did Unravel Me measure up?
KG: The curse of the sequel is when a mind-blowing novel is followed by disappointing sequel that do not raise the bar in terms of the writing, plot, or characters. Often it’s a sausage link -- a book that functions as a bridge between the book one and three, with no story arc of its own. Tahereh broke the bar with Unravel Me. She answers questions raised in Shatter Me, while seamlessly introducing a new plotline that ratchets up the stakes, action, and romance for Juliette, Adam, Warner – and the reader.
KG: Who is your favorite character from the Shatter Me series?
RR: Maybe it’s a cop-out to say this, because everyone’s always choosing between Adam and Warner, but my favorite character has to be Juliette herself. She starts the first book as someone who’s practically been driven insane by isolation and deprivation, and over the course of Shatter Me, Destroy Me, and Unravel Me, she makes a really incredible transformation. A series of them, really. It’s totally engrossing to watch her change – and I can’t wait to see what happens to her in the final book!
RR: If Tahereh were a character in one of your books, who would she be?
KG: Tahereh would definitely be Lena -- a smart and powerful woman, who isn’t afraid to be herself in a world that encourages women to conform.
KG: Let’s talk about the cover of Unravel Me. As a photographer, what were your thoughts when you first saw it? Did it call up any specific associations?
RR: Well, I thought it was beautiful! And haunting, and unusual. I love how much detail there is – the more you look, the more is revealed. I had to turn it face-down on my nightstand when I wasn’t reading it, though, because I swear that eye was looking at me.
RR: If you could borrow one thing from Tahereh, what would it be?
KG: Her “Shatter Me” shoes -- those platforms she covered in shards of mirror.
Ready for round two? The war between the Reestablishment and its citizens is ramping up in this sequel to the steamy dystopia Shatter Me (2011). Juliette escaped from Warner and is learning the ropes of living in Omega Point, the headquarters for the resistance. There is some effort to train her to use her powers to help in the war, but she is just as interested in exploring the new world of being touched by her friend and love interest Adam. Adam is not the only one vying for her attention. Cue up the love triangle: Warner is being held captive at Omega, too, and he still wants Juliette to join forces with him. The first volume’s fans will be thrilled with the secrets unveiled in this one; others might feel more like the rebel trainer, Kenji, when he says to Juliette, “Stop crying. . . . Make a choice and stop wasting everyone’s time.” Here’s hoping that the impending war will bring some much needed action to the series in the next installment. Grades 8-12. --Cindy Dobrez --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The politics of this world are obviously an important aspect of this series and this book, but in unravel me I think we're focused more on the people at Omega Point, with the political aspect staying there in the background as more of just a driving force for the development of their relationships.
We see a few different sides of Castle (personally I'm still not sure how I feel about him), who starts off very imposing and almost mysterious. And as we see other peoples perspective on him we see other layers that aren't shown to Juliette. This happens in regards to a few of characters, and it serves to flesh the entire cast out quite nicely in a "show don't tell" way that a lot of authors struggle with, and I think it's handled very well here.
The romance--let's be honest and call it a love triangle--is also handled much better in this book than in a lot of other YA novels. I love both these boys in their own ways and that doesn't happen a lot. I think Juliette's character has a believable reason for feeling so torn--there are literally only two people capable of touching her, and they're both gorgeous and totally in love with her?? How could anyone handle that? Let alone someone who was pretty sure for like sixteen years that she could never have someone like that, and then she finds two-- one right after the other! Her feelings in regards to Adam and Warner are understandable and fit the other aspects of her character and the internal battles that have continued to plague her. I don't really have much else to say other than to reiterate that this is probably my favorite love triangle/ the only one I like at all.
Overall this book is five stars for me, it's taking a great deal of self control to not dive into Ignite Me right this moment but A) I don't want this to end right away and B) I plan to read it in one sitting and I need to get to bed kinda soon.
HIGHLY RECOMMEND! If you were debating continuing after Shatter Me I think you definitely should!
That was my experience reading Unravel Me. Even now, as I type this review, I am fighting the urge to pick up the book yet again and read (translation: devour) all my favorite parts, just so I can wallow in all the awesomeness.
When the book begins, Juliette and Adam are hiding out at Omega Point, a secret location that is home to the resistance, but it isn't quite the perfect sanctuary they'd hoped for. There's little time or opportunity for them to enjoy their newly-minted couple status, and their fellow rebels are anything but enthusiastic about having Juliette in their midst, making her feel like more of an outcast than ever. And to make matters worse, the increased Reestablishment presence in the area is putting everyone on edge, as troops led by none other than Big Bad Warner himself continue their relentless search for the fugitives. Tensions are high, and everyone is on edge.
That's the basic premise of Unravel Me, and it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of everything this book contains. So much happens! SO. MUCH. Tahereh Mafi didn't just expand on the world she built in Shatter Me, she blew the lid off of it and turned a fantastic story into an epic one.
The character development was ah-mazing. No one was safe. From Juliette, to Adam, to Warner, everyone had major curve balls thrown their way. They were tested. They were tried. And each one of them had to decide if they were going to step up or get out of the game. I felt for them, and yet at the same time, I loved seeing them get shaken up, because it revealed so much about each of them.
Let's start with Juliette. There's no way around it, she's a hot, beautiful mess, and has been since we first met her in Shatter Me. I actually cheered when certain characters (*coughKENJIcough*) took her to task, giving her a much-needed dose of hard truth and reality. But at the same time, I get it. Brought up the way she was, isolated and cut off from virtually everyone, it makes total sense that she would have a tough time adjusting not only to life at Omega Point, but also fitting in with the people around her. It's not so much that she doesn't want to be a team player, or that she's so caught up in her own drama, she can't see the forest for the trees. It's more a case of not knowing the right moves, because she's never had to make them before. Being a part of something, interacting with people, being loved - it's all new to her. But Juliette is so much more than she gives herself credit for. Does she make mistakes? Yes, absolutely, but she's learning, and every day she shoulders the burdens she is forced to carry a little better than she did the day before. That, to me, is what makes her such a compelling heroine. She's got so much heart, so much power and raw potential (and I'm not just talking about her fearsome abilities)....I can't wait to see where she ends up.
Adam, I had a tougher time with. I adored him in Shatter Me, but here, not so much. The way he reacted to certain challenges and tribulations just didn't sit well with me. I expected more from him, and felt like I got less. Either I'm seeing him clearly for the first time, or this wasn't his book to shine and he's going to come back in a big way in book three to totally wow me. Only time will tell. For now, I'm on the fence.
With Warner, I had the opposite reaction. He intrigued me in book one, and totally, completely won me over in his novella (Destroy Me). Yes, I am very much Team Warner, and being the diehard fangirl that I am, there is no way I can discuss him objectively. So if you want to take everything I'm about to say with a big, heaping grain of salt, go right ahead, but IMO, Warner made this book. Would it have been great without him? Yes, I'm quite sure it would have been. With him, though - with him, it became something truly phenomenal. He brings something to this series that no one else can or will. He's such a deliciously gray character. Not a villain, and not a classic, do-gooding hero either. He's somewhere in between, and which side of him you see depends on who you are and what the circumstances are. I learned so much more about him in this book, and I ate up every single word he and Juliette exchanged. The tension between them does wonderful, fluttery things to my insides. In my (biased) heart of hearts, I really do believe he understands her in a way no one else can or ever will. Does that mean he is going to get the girl at the end? I honestly don't know. I hope he does (oh, how I hope for that!!!) but at this point, I'm prepared for anything. What matters most to me is that Warner gets a happy ending, whatever that happy ending turns out to be. He's earned it.
Before I wrap this review up, I need to mention Chapter 62. Sweet mercy, Chapter 62. I've lost track of the number of times I've read it. Let's just say a lot, and multiply it by infinity. Seriously, BEST. CHAPTER. EVER.
Unravel Me did everything a sequel should. It continued to build the world the author created, it cranked up the drama and tension, it challenged the characters and had a ton of OMG-type moments, and most of all, it left me absolutely desperate to read more. I need Ignite Me (book 3) like I need my next breath. So hurry up, February 4th - get here faster! :)