It’s been a while since I’ve read the first 3 books in the Shatter Me series. So long, in fact, that I should have caught up on them before starting the latest one, Restore Me, but I just couldn’t wait.
When Tahereh Mafi announced she’d be adding more books to the series, I was both surprised and excited. Surprised because it’s been so long since the last one even came out. Excited because it felt like the open-ended conclusion of Ignite Me wasn’t fully finished. Plus, who wouldn’t love more Warner in their life?
What I’ve found having finished this novel, is that it feels like a set up for future action. Not much happened in this book. Mafi spent a lot of time catching her readers up to the previous novels, which I appreciated having not read them again before rushing into Restore Me. But, that also meant there were long stretches of description I think stalled the plot and left room for more action to have been added.
She did bring back the journals from Juliette’s time in the insane asylum, which was, stylistically, something I loved about the previous books. Both her characters maintained a distinct voice that fit them and their world. And, though Juliette made choices I didn’t agree with, she was still the headstrong young woman I remembered her as.
One thing that worked for me was the surprise ending. It fit with the rest of what was going on in the novel and definitely made me want to see what’s going to happen in the future installments. I just hope those books get to the action quicker, because I was expecting this to be a society plot more so than it was.
Oh, and here’s your warning: Spoilers Ahead. Proceed with caution.
1. What is the Global Genre?
Restore Me is a long form, arch-plot, science fiction, drama that turns on ignorance and wisdom. Meaning, the internal content genre is a Revelation Plot. The big reveal at the end of the novel proves that the internal plot is stronger. It’s what pushes you to keep reading. Juliette’s internal struggle has to do with who she is and where she came from. Her internal world and the secrets are revealed at the end and leave the reader wondering how she’ll come out on top.
I expected a stronger society story considering the external content genre, which turned on impotence and personal power. But, the looming question of where she actually came from did weave together with the question of how she’s going to rule. Ultimately, I think the two genres were combined together in a set up for the future books. I liked getting to know Juliette and Warner better, but I did want more to happen. I wanted them to make more active decisions. And for the stakes to feel even greater than the threat to Juliette’s life.
One of the better elements (how can it not be when Warner is involved?) was the love story sub-plot. That was interesting. There were new elements and the same chemistry between the characters as before. And, I definitely like it.
2. What are the Conventions and Obligatory Scenes?
In the both the Revelation and Society plots, obligatory scenes include an inciting challenge, the protagonist denies responsibility to respond, forced to respond, the protagonist lashes out, they learn the antagonist’s object of desire, there is an all is lost moment, their gifts are expressed, and the loss of innocence is rewarded with a deeper understanding of the universe. Society stories also include a revolution scene.
Restore Me did have some of those elements. Juliette is at the point of her journey, having already taken down the tyrant (the Revolution from the previous book), where she has to learn how to rule. A duty she accepts. Her only reservations are that she is too inexperienced to lead, which works. However, the key scenes: an All is Lost moment and figuring out the antagonist’s object of desire, were missing in this particular novel.
Part of that is because it’s a long series. There was just a Revolution scene in the previous novel. The object of desire for one of the antagonist’s seems to be Juliette herself. Given our perspective in the novel, we don’t know that until she is captured and finds out herself. Again, that’s ok. At the same time, it made the book feel like it was lacking some specific action. Moments where Juliette and/or Warner make irreversible choices. I wanted that on the page and didn’t get it.
Castle is supposed to be the strong mentor figure, but not everyone trusts him. I think that works well enough. I suppose if I were to choose a big social problem as subtext in this book, I’d pick tyranny and class conflicts. How do our leaders relate to the people they have power over? And, what does it mean to have that power? How should you use it?
Restore Me did have shapeshifters. Nazeera turns out to be helpful. Juliette herself changes her appearance drastically. And, her entire history and belief about herself turns out to be incorrect. There isn’t a clear point of no return until the very end when she uses her power to kill people and her parent’s take her back home. But the ending is entirely up in the air because of that cliffhanger.
And the conventions of the society story are less prevalent. I do believe this is because of the genre fluidity of young adult novels. It’s a category more forgiving than adult counterparts because the characters and their overall journeys are more important than every scene.
3. What it the POV/Narrative Device?
The story alternates between Juliette and Warner. It’s first person and present tense. And, perhaps my favorite addition are the journal entries Juliette wrote. They are how Warner knows her so well. And, give insight into the human condition and what it means to be sane/crazy.
4. What are the Objects of Desire?
Juliette wants to fix the state of their society. She wants to be seen as a fair and just leader and to get allies on her side. What she needs is to learn where she came from and to protect herself. She spends too much time protecting others and believing she’s invincible, that she forgets about herself.
Warner wants to keep Juliette safe. That means separating her from the world he grew up in. What he needs is to teach her about that world and how to operate in it. Unfortunately, he fails.
5. What is the Controlling Idea/Theme?
Though wisdom prevails when we express our gifts, tyrants may use those gifts for their own benefit against our will.
6. What is the Beginning Hook, Middle Build, and Ending Payoff?
Juliette is having a hard time learning to lead the country and has to decide whether to ask Warner for help or not.
Various children of other Supreme Commanders visit Juliette with hidden motives, she befriends Nazeera after she saves her life, and breaks up with Warner when he tells her the truth about her past.
Juliette and the others prepare for the symposium, which goes horribly wrong, and Juliette’s real parents come to take her home after she kills 554 people.