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In a way it sort of feels like nothing happened in the latest book of the Shatter Me series. Restore Me (Shatter Me) was a bit of a let down in that sense. Mostly because there weren’t strong, irreversible decisions. Sure, Warner told Juliette the truth and they broke up, but given their history, it feels like nothing will keep them apart.
It does set up big promises for later on. Ones I’m excited to see play out.
But I wasn’t quite satisfied with Restore Me. I wanted to see an All is Lost moment. And a revolution. Or a resolution explaining the consequences of what the villain was after. In fact, a stronger feel for who the villain was would have helped. I know The Reestablishment was the villain. But pulling off a villain without an actual person playing the role, is very difficult. That’s why Warner’s father was necessary.
That said, I do think there were important lessons to learn from reading this series and this book in particular. Especially considering how long Shatter Me has been well-read. And the fact that it’s a staple on the shelves of most bookstores. So, if you want to learn how to write like Restore Me, keep reading.
The voice Mafi brings to her novels is recognizable. It’s easy to get lost in. And, I think the way she created Juliette makes her live off the page. Not to mention Warner. Have I gushed about him yet? Juliette definitely feels like a 17 year old girl. Unlike some authors who give their young adult characters traits most 20-somethings aren’t mature enough to possess, Mafi gives Juliette a recklessness that suits her. Juliette tries hard to figure herself out. And, I’m happy to be along for the ride.
And Warner. My absolute favorite heart-throb of all the YA series I’ve read. He love Juliette fiercely. But not because he saw some quirky trait about her and came to conclusions about her in a way that doesn’t feel real. Instead, he read her journals and took time to get to know the inner workings of her mind. He’s lovely. But complicated. Given his past, there’s just as much to hate about him as there is to love. To me, that makes him feel real.
Together, they work. It feels like young love. The kind you dive into without thinking about the consequences. At the same time, that makes it hard to believe when things come between the two. Not that I think Mafi shouldn’t pull them apart, that creates tension after all. But, it has to be just as powerful as their passionate love for each other to feel like there’s an actual chance of the breakup being permanent. I didn’t feel that with the revelation Warner dropped on Juliette.
Active choices – what was lacking and how to improve your own writing
What I like about these novels is that they are exactly something I would have written had I given myself the freedom to. I used to write notes about the things I’d write about. One was: what would it be like if no one could touch you? And everything always had to do with having supernatural powers (because, why not?).
What Mafi did in Restore Me was take everything in my head and put it on the page in a way that I wasn’t expecting. I remember loving the first 3 stories. That could be because I haven’t read them recently, but I don’t think so. There is something about the characters she’s created that just works.
But, she should put these characters in more dire situations. A lot of YA I’ve read treat the main character as if they’ll shatter having anything truly go wrong, which makes moments when the tension is supposed to be high fall flat. I want to really worry about the characters. I should believe that they could actually lose what they’re fighting for.
Part of that is giving them the freedom to make the wrong decision. Give your characters the choice and ramp up what they stand to lose should they not get what they want. Take the choice to a higher degree each time a new one comes up. And don’t be afraid to get them in some real shit. You’ll both come up with a way out eventually and you’re audience will be all the more surprised (because you, yourself would have been surprised).
I think the best way to take this advice to heart is to rewrite as much as (and probably more than) you write. Take the essence of the scene you’re trying to tell. Let’s say it’s a stranger knocks on the door. Write it out to get your first draft on paper. But, once you are ready to analyze it, knowing the core of the scene will help you make it better.
The second time around rewrite that scene at least 10 different ways changing key elements. You’ll get your creative juices flowing and come up with ideas you wouldn’t normally think of. Sure, it might not be the most fun. But, some of the most successful writers took the time to rewrite important scenes and it only made their work better.
Just keep writing.