REVIEW: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi


Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Length: 461 pages

Release date: 5 February 2013

Amazon UK | Amazon US

It should have taken Juliette a single touch to kill Warner. But his mysterious immunity to her deadly power has left her shaken, wondering why her ultimate defense mechanism failed against the person she most needs protection from.

She and Adam were able to escape Warner’s clutches and join up with a group of rebels, many of whom have powers of their own. Juliette will finally be able to actively fight against The Reestablishment and try to fix her broken world. And perhaps these new allies can help her shed light on the secret behind Adam’s—and Warner’s—immunity to her killer skin.

Jesus. This is all the worst things about Shatter Me magnified in a book almost twice as long, with the same amount or less of plot. Nothing happens for the first half and I’m not sure anything happens afterward either–I was too busy trying not to fall asleep and/or give myself a concussion against the nearest wall.

Meet Juliette, entitlement extraordinaire. No one understands the catastrophic problems that Juliette has to face. Namely, that she can’t touch/make out/have sex with Adam. And, of course, that she went through a traumatic few weeks with Warner, in which he forced her–I kid you not–to eat rich people food, sleep in a fancy bed and occasionally use her power to injure some poor person. My God, she’s practically a concentration camp survivor at this point.


Because her life has been so sad (her parents didn’t even love her!!!), everyone forgives Juliette when she has her temper tantrums. Tantrums which, thanks to her inexplicably powerful abilities, repeatedly put everyone in danger and at one point almost collapses the entire rebel base. So special Juliette almost kills the entire Organisation of Vague Resistance People in one fell swoop, but it’s ok, everyone will still apologise to her for triggering her. Hip-hip-hooray, girl power!

The most sickening thing is that you’re supposed to sympathise with Juliette even when she’s a grade A bitch.

Literally everyone around her who isn’t her pathetic boyfriend tells her to get her shit together, yet Juliette still spends half the book wallowing in her puddle of misery, feeling sorry for herself. This kind of mental debilitation would be excusable if Juliette had actually been through anything worthy of it. Take Katniss for example, you may find her Mockingjay frame of mind annoying or heartbreaking, but it’s justifiable because she’s been through child-killing competitions and seen her entire community wiped out by the Capitol. The worst Juliette seems to think she’s experienced is being kissed by Warner and liking it (gasp!). Practically the same thing, amirite?

Part of Unravel Me‘s awfulness is probably Second Book Syndrome. Tahereh Mafi saw where the first book ended and knew where she wanted the third book to start, which would be fine except for the hideous clumsiness with which she attempts to steer the story from Point A to Point B. Juliette’s evolution from shellshocked survivor to patriotic fighter is the opposite of convincing. In fact, she’s actually a lot more compelling in Shatter Me, especially when she gives those raw monologues about her own convictions about not wanting to hurt anyone.

The other reason for Unravel Me‘s awfulness, I think, is shipping convenience. The problem: The author wants a Warnette endgame, but Juliette unfortunately hates Warner and would never pursue a romantic relationship with him. The laziest, most effective solution: Make Juliette “broken,” so that she’s enough of a psychological wreck to break up with Adam and jump to the endgame ship. Easy! And really, really fucking dumb.

Now that I think of it, characters in this book are in general really dumb. It’s impossible to take any of them seriously, even the villains, simply because of how juvenile their plans are. Even Divergent‘s Jeanine Mathews behaves less cartoonishly than Commander Anderson.

Stay away. Stay far, far away.


Other reviews in this series:

REVIEW: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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