Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi

I’m a little sad this series is over. I’ve given myself some extra time before starting the next book to get into the right mindset, so I just keep replaying my favorite parts of the series in the car. The Shatter Me series has definitely been one of my favorites. The timing worked out for this one to make it my Read Harder task 9, the last book in a series. There are a few other last books that I’m waiting on this year but this one came out first.

If you haven’t read any of the other books, this is not the review to decide that on. They are fantastic and reviewed previous. I did the first three books together because I ran through them quickly, that’s here. Then I read and loved book four and five last year and reviewed them together here.

A little something about the series as a whole, it starts off with everything exagerated in that way that a lot of people think of teenagers. It can be a little annoying at time but it’s important to remember, as everything at that point indicates, these are truly trouble teens without much real human interaction in their lives. Also, the ability to tell the story of Juliette’s mental recovery by using the first person POV and just showing the improvement in her thought process was one of my favorite things about the book. I’ve seen a lot of reviews hate on this part of the story and it can get annoying sometimes but it’s a ready reminder of her isolation and abuse too. She doesn’t think straight and we experience her development with her and it’s so understated that it can be hard to notice from one book to the next how bad it had been and how much better she’s getting. I thought of it as a brilliant artistic move on the part of the author.

AND THEN the series just kinda explodes as we learn more and more about our characters and the world they live in. I went back and listened to the first five books ahead of this one and I highly recommend doing that too. I had notived in Restore Me that she uses certain words to remind us of where the characters have been and that grows into whole pieces of story here that are right out of the other books that remind characters of things. It’s really done well because it puts even the reader right back in that original moment. It’s beautifully done.

Now, for some detail about this book that will spoil the first few books, so please don’t go any further if you haven’t read up to this book.

I LOVE Warner and Juliette. It was interesting and not quite right in Unravel Me, but then perfect and getting more perfect in everything after. I love the way Defy Me even explains the history of their relationship and makes sense out of those moments in Shatter Me and Unravel Me when their bodies responded in ways that their minds didn’t understand. I thought it was just a tolerable YA trope at the time but all this other stuff made me love it. More than the two of them together, I love Warner.

Imagine Me brings out all my favorite things about him as a character, especially now that he’s not a Sector Commander anymore as of Defy Me. He’s passionate to a fault, devoted, and has ridiculous command of his abilities. He’s a little too perfect in a lot of ways except that whole attitude about anyone other than those he loves thing but I love that too. I love the way that is explored in this final book.

I love Kenji as a bestie and a soldier. He was annoying in the first book, always had a great point about raging hormones in the second and third book, but was a great bestie once he settled into that role and into his responsbilities in the third book. I appreciate the way he accepts his changing world and realigns in his efforts to make things better everywhere he goes. That’s comes out a lot here.

Juliette is a great protagonist through out the series, being torn apart and put back together and this is a new way of looking her. She’s come a long way from the girl in the asylum that was terrified to touch anyone, but not without intervention. It’s an interesting exercise in this series to see how many times a person can be torn apart and put back together in different shapes before they figure out who they are.

Coming out of Defy Me, we knew that all the parents were the antagonists/villains to this tale, but wow. I have to admit that I did not see the final confrontation going down the way that it did. I loved it and it was satisfying, but it was not what I was expecting and I love that even more. I was actually pretty worried about what it all meant with a title like Imagine Me, but where the title comes from makes great sense and isn’t all that worrisome.

The only thing that I could even begin to say that I didn’t like was the lack of Warner POV after how involved his POV was in the last two books. I get it, though, with where his character was going, I just wish I had a little more of it. Ok, a lot more of it. I LOVE his POV in both Restore Me and Defy so much. It helped, having been in his head, with all the little things from Kenji and Juliette’s perspective, especially Juliette’s last few POV chapters.

The epilogue is fun. I recommend sticking around for it. It’s also not something I expected at the end of the story but it was cute and satisfying, especially given the POV and some of the extra little interactions.

Altogether, I do recommend this series a lot, to anyone who loves a good sci-fi or dystopian, particularly with a female protagonist. I know it’s the popular thing now to have a female protagonist for these books but one of the things I love that sets this series apart from most of it is that Juliette is not a strong character at first. This is a story of a becoming, one where a woman is specifically kept weak and docile her entire life. There are no small acts of defiance in her history before the series begins. There is no yearning for more than seeing a bird fly by. It’s becoming what you weren’t meant to be by societies standard or that of the people who have control of your life. In that way, the series is also about the effect that people can have on each other when little connections are made in a world without much real connection. This is a beautiful culmination of their story, I’m glad I stuck around for it.

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