Another, older dystopian series. . . one that almost drove me mad.
Juliette Ferrars has spent the last almost eight months in solitary confinement, trapped in a mental asylum. Before that, she was dragged through detention centers and prisons by the Re-establishment, the current government, which has spent years studying her and considers her to be a highly dangerous weapon. Her touch can kill. Because of this, she hasn’t touched another human for years, and with her isolation, is teetering on the edge of madness. Then, she gets a roommate, a boy, Adam, someone she remembered from her life before this hell. Somehow, he can touch her, and Juliette begins to feel the tiniest of hopes. Adam was not there to be a friend; instead, he is a soldier sent by Warner, the Section leader (something like a state governor), to test her. Warner wants Juliette to be his weapon, but Juliette wants to hurt no one. Beginning a convoluted love triangle, Warner wants Juliette to be his partner and his tool, while Adam wants to save her. Juliette, timid and afraid (and practically cray-cray), escapes with Adam into the city. This is not lasting peace. While Adam is trying to get his brother and take them both somewhere safe, they are followed by Kenji, Adam’s military partner, and he warns them that Warner is coming after them. In the chaos that follows, Juliette decides to use her power to save Adam’s life, but compromises her beliefs to do so.
With Warner injured and unable to follow them but Adam severely needing medical attention, Kenji outs himself as a secret spy for an underground resistance group called Omega Point. Bringing Adam, Juliette, and James, Adam’s brother, to Omega Point causes a bit of chaos. Omega Point is trying to bring down the Re-establishment, and has quite the power and gifts to do so, as Juliette isn’t the only one with powers. Many of the rebels have extrasensory gifts. Meanwhile, Juliette is still learning how to behave normally, especially around people, and her relationship with Adam grows rocky as she explores her abilities more in-depth. She’s no longer the meek little bird that needs protection; she simply needs support, and she finds it in her new friend Kenji. However much Juliette is adapting to her strengths, she is unprepared for the realization of Adam’s gift, a self-defense ability that combats her own when activated. If Adam turns it off or uses it too much, she could kill him accidentally. Their future together is ruined unless they can figure out another way. To make matters worse, they capture Warner and Juliette begins to see a different side to him than before. Despite the romantic drama, the rest of Omega Point is focused on fighting back, and the leader, Castle, is trying to convince Juliette to get on board. Taking her on missions and training her doesn’t wake her up to reality. It’s not until her new friends, Brendan and Winston, are kidnapped and most likely tortured severely that Juliette decides she has something invaluable to offer to her new friends that just might save precious lives.
After Juliette’s near death, Warner’s sacrifice to keep her alive, and Omega Point’s destruction, Juliette’s entire world is turned about. With so much pain, death, and oppression, Juliette is tired of being a tool. She’s ready to make her own stand and luckily, Warner is determined to stand by her. Defying his powerful father, the leader of the Re-establishment, Warner hides Juliette and plots with her to overthrow the government. Developing a bond of mutual respect and partnership with Warner is practically unthinkable, but she’s slowly coming to terms with her own perception of him and his reality. Also, Juliette needs to find out what happened to her friends, since they could use the support. When Adam and the other survivors of Omega Point join the team, some tensions arise between Adam and Warner, but most everyone else is focused on the task at hand–destroying Warner’s dad. A heavy secret creates other discomfort, but with all of them working together, freedom is within their grasp, they just have to reach out and take it.
I’ll admit it. It was like pulling teeth to read most of this series. There were a few things that beat me senseless with the attempt to establish credibility, namely the number fixation (Juliette has an affinity for numbers) and the repetitions and strikethroughs of Juliette’s inner thoughts. Some reviewers have called this poetic, and while it is a poetic device, it becomes downright obnoxious in the books. While Juliette must undeniably have psychological deficiencies from her treatment at the hands of the Re-establishment, she comes across as whiny and very immature, very childlike, not so much a teen at all. Her transformation from Shatter Me to Ignite Me seems to contradict each other as both unbelievable and logical. She becomes such a force to be reckoned with that her earlier self is almost completely unfamiliar. When considering her romances with Adam (her soldier rescuer who would prefer her to be a meek cow of a girlfriend) and Warner (the powerful leader who scares her with his cruelty and then shows her the respect she deserves as well as the depth of his duplicity), the extremes within the book become apparent and even ludicrous. If you hate love triangles or prefer English as your favorite subject, please, do yourself a favor and don’t pick up this book unless you can handle it. I recommend having a backup that you can switch with when you’re getting severely annoyed. Otherwise, the ending was fairly satisfying, despite the pains it took to get there. One of the things that I thought made the book possible was Kenji’s character. He is comic relief, plot driver, and thoroughly supports the entire story. Without him, there would be no loving this trilogy whatsoever. Maybe middle grade readers would like this much better than older readers.
Notes: Strong language, sexual circumstances, violence.
Winston hits a switch. The lights go out. There’s a rustle of blankets. “If I hear any of you talk,” Winston says, “I will personally send Brendan over to kick you in the face.”
“I’m not going to kick anyone in the face.”
“Kick yourself in the face, Brendan.”
“I don’t even know why we’re friends.”
“Please shut up,” Lily shouts from her corner.
“You heard the lady,” Winston says. “Everyone shut up.”
“You’re the one talking, dumbass,” Ian says.
“Brendan, kick him in the face, please.”
“Shut up, mate, I am not kicking any—”
“Good night,” Castle says.
Everyone stops breathing.