I never thought I'd give a 5-star review for a book with practically no plot and a bunch of fairly unlikeable characters. But it is a testament to author Mafi's skill that I was completely engrossed throughout the entire series. Yes, it is by no means a perfect collection; but the few faults are far outweighed by the emotional pathos and character development across the entire story arc. And well, there's Kenji - one of the funniest (and most fun) 'best friend' in any book I've ever read. I'd never have thought I'd be laughing as much as I did from Kenji's scenes. Anyone who stopped at book 1 is advised to give book 2 a chance - just for Kenji.
Plot: Omega Point is destroyed, the survivors living desperately, and Juliette has been safely hidden in Warner's compound apartment. In the time spent recuperating from being shot by Anderson, Juliette comes to a greater understanding of herself and the true nature of Warner. But Adam, Kenji, and the rest can't understand her new trust/respect of their hated enemy. And quite frankly, Warner doesn't even care. For him, it's all about Juliette and everything else is irrelevant. But together, Juliette and Warner will bring the survivors together and form a plan to take out the supreme commander and exact revenge. If they don't kill each other first.
Surprisingly, despite an abrupt end (the action ALL takes place in the last 10% of the book), it finishes in a satisfying manner. But what really set this book and the series apart for me is that there was so much character growth and contemplation of human nature. Most of Ignite me is Juliette coming to understand herself, about Warner's true nature, Adam and puppy love, and about the true meaning of strength. Anyone who has read the two novellas that proceeded this book will already know Juliette's conclusions about her relationships with Adam and Warner. It is all smartly written and for once, I really appreciate that a character understands WHY she loves someone and why they would love her back.
I think a series like this hits several sweet spots for me simply because I appreciate emotion when done correctly and a romance that isn't what it seems. If anything, a lot of the book is showing the negative aspects of a relationship and how easy it is to be confused and to be weakened by the wrong partner. Considering most YA teen books are about first loves and far too perfect matches (with no understanding of why the characters are even attracted to each other) Shatter Me really stood out.
The let downs? I wish the x-men subplot had been jettisoned (the "Juliette super hero spandex suit was back in this book, sadly). It drew the attention away from the pathos and that was both a distraction and a frustration. The book could really have stayed focused on emotion and development rather than superheroes and physical strength.
In the end, a tale of obsessive love, introspection, and a far from perfect (set) of love interests kept me hooked and eagerly reading. This was definitely not a story about either a dystopian landscape or insta-perfect-love. It's all about Juliette's growth from a shuttered, shattered, broken soul into a strong and independent person who learns her own strengths.
Note that I listened to the audible version of this book and the narration was excellent. The narrator did an good job and the producer/narrator really deserve a raise for the smart choices made to bring this version to oral form.
I look forward to Mafi's next series.
This book (and series) has received a lot of very good reviews, so I thought I would give it a chance. I was pleasantly surprised by the story. It was easy to follow, cleanly written, and had an interesting story.
This is very YA dystopian, just within the confines of a ship. What I thought would be more of a 'solve the murder mystery with a romance slapped on' ended up being more of a muse on society. There were several scenes/moments where I did have to suspend disbelief; but they didn't end up being too annoying.
The book got better as it went along. Some plot elements could be seen far in advance but there were several surprises as well in the last few places. The romance was believable, not overblown, and appopriate for the gravitas of the story.
The audible readers did a decent job. I felt the female narrator did a better job here, though, since she really brought the emotion to the surface.
This Shattered World, the second in the Starbound Series, is a solidly written sequel using different characters but in the same spirit as the first book. Drawing heavily upon Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (references abound, from a planet called Avon, to a nickname of Romeo, to the main character being from Verona), our star-crossed lovers are separated by ideologies rather than class.
Story: Jubilee Chase is a captain on a backwater planet, Avon, trying to keep the peace against insurgents. But there are strange going-ons, the terraforming keeps stalling, and the people are starving. When Finn Cormac walks into her bar, "Stone Face Chase" Lee is going to get more than she bargained for as she is drawn into a battle that is far greater than just rebels and military.
Those wondering about the book having different characters from the first need not fret - Lilac and Tarver do show up later, though only in a support capacity. But the anomalies encountered in the first book are expanded upon in This Shattered World as Lee and Finn discover they each have a connection to the inter-dimensional beings.
The tone and storytelling, romance and action, characters and world building remain true from the first book to the second. Lee is tough but flawed and Finn is earnest and strong. The authors cleverly work in the Romeo and Juliet signatures into a sci fi setting - so much so that only the occasional references harken back to Shakespeare.
I really appreciated the diversity in the story - from same sex relationships to a main character part Chinese and whose family want her to maintain the culture. We didn't have a bunch of straight Caucasians running around pretending no other ethnicity or orientation existed.
The only downside for me was the prototypical boring villain and a reliance on the old "Big Misunderstanding" cliche. It's yet another situation where if the characters simply talked instead of answering in riddles, they'd not have had as much difficulty progressing in their relationship or story.
I listened to the Audible version and admittedly was very disappointed by the narration. The voice actors are good but I felt that a planet full of Irish settlers who had proudly held on to their culture would have at least had either accents or more Celtic flavor in the narration. Instead, Finn just sounded like an American guy. As well, the chapter segues were done in a male voice with a bunch of whispering in the background - both were so distracting that I had a hard time concentrating on the metaphors being presented.
In all, great book but only OK narration.