Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
This sequel to Shatter Me picks up with Juliette and Adam in Omega Point, the headquarters of the resistance movement. Most of the action of the book has to do with their training, plans to take down the oppressive regime, and, of course, relationship drama. Generally, the book fulfills the promise of the previous one, which I noted in my review, has some themes similar to Twilight, but is several steps above that series because it has healthier relationships, a more capable heroine, and better prose.
This volume develops the love triangle that began with the first one. Juliette and Adam break up because his resistance to her power is wearing off, and she might hurt him accidentally. So the way is open for Warner, the last book’s villain, the bad boy, the one who needs saving. Juliette finds herself unable to hate him despite all he’s done to hurt her and Adam. Once she learns about his rough childhood, she feels a kinship and sympathy with him that feeds her growing attraction to him. There’s a really steamy scene where Warner nearly seduces Juliette, described in erotic detail.
So often in teen romance novels like this, there’s this idea that it’s not love unless it’s all-consuming and co-dependent. So I enjoyed her strong, self-aware rejection of Warner, when she maturely recognized that the bad-boy characteristics that make him so appealing would make him a horrible partner. I also appreciated that Juliette became more independent of Adam in this book, understanding that her previous overreliance on him wasn’t healthy:
I can love him, but I can’t depend on him to be my backbone. I can’t be my own person if I constantly require someone else to hold me together.
There’s something about Juliette’s voice that seems to emphasize her fragility. She always seems on the edge of some kind of breakdown. It makes her appear weaker than she is, which was slightly annoying to me as a reader. (This aspect of her character might come out more in the audiobook I listened to than in the text.) However, toward the end of the novel she makes some concrete decisions and becomes determined to take down the evil Reconstruction government and its leader, Anderson. There’s a bad ass inside her that’s been hidden, and I just hope the next novel really lets her out.