Review: Tahereh Mafi – Touching Juliette series

Over the last weekend, I read the Touching Juliette series by Tahereh Mafi. At first, I really liked it. After the first book however, things rapidly became less good. I can see why people loved this series, but for me, it was focussed too much on romance instead of the plot.

Shatter Me (Touching Juliette #1)

My expectations of this book were pretty high, because I loved Furthermore and I heard a lot of good things about this series. And I wasn’t disappointed. I thought Furthermore’s writing style was better, but of course Shatter Me was Mafi’s debute, and it’s certainly a good one. The writing style really added to the main character’s personality, because you almost feel her confusion and hurt. The writing style also changed a little throughout the book, along with Juliette becoming more sane and accepting of herself. The book also has a good plot, consisting of what you expect of any dystopian, along with interesting characters and a supernatural element. I’m definitely curious about the rest of the series.

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Destroy Me (Touching Juliette #1.5)

The timing of this book is perfect, as the reader needs more insight in Warner’s motives and personality at this point of the story. However, before you start sympathizing with him: so he had a bad childhood. So did Juliette. So did a lot of characters. It isn’t an excuse. He doesn’t love her, he loves his idea of her. That’s something else entirely. He still assaulted her, frightened her and tortured Adam (and a lot of other people). Those things can’t be justified. Why am I saying all this? Because I’ve seen a lot of people who are ‘team Warner’ and I felt the need to clear this up. Because in the end, it’s like Adam said in Shatter Me: ‘You should always have a choice.’ So… Point made. Again, I thought this was pretty well written and Warner’s perspective definitely added something to the story.

Unravel Me (Touching Juliette #2)

Plotwise, this book worked really well again. And some of the characters were great, especially Kenji. It was nice to get a better idea of his personality. However, this book was filled with drama between Juliette and Adam, and love triangle drama. It was so cringy and cliché! And then, a certain plottwist made things even worse! Because of that, Juliette was kind of annoying to me in this book. She acted completely clueless, but it felt too naive to be sincere. I hope the next book will be better in that sense!

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Fracture Me (Touching Juliette #2.5)

At this point in the story, it was nice to get to know more about Adam. However, he’s a pretty straightforward character and so there wasn’t much to tell that wasn’t already clear. Yes, Adam loves his little brother more than anyone else. We already knew that! And the novella was very very short, even for a novella. I would have liked to get a little more insight in everything that happened and in Adam himself. The ending felt really abrupt. But it’s nice to now know something Juliette doesn’t, at least for a part of the next book.

Ignite Me (Touching Juliette #3)

This last installment of the Touching Juliette series was a disappointment for me. I was hoping it would be better than the other books, but it was worse. Too much romance, and too little attention to the main plot. The whole book consists of the drama between Juliette, Warner and Adam, which didn’t interest me at all. I still don’t like Warner one bit, and I also don’t like Adam anymore. This is what I don’t understand about all these love triangles in ya books: the main character never seems to feel like she has the option to just walk away. Instead she seems to have two options: choose guy A or guy B. The only good things about this book were the way Juliette develops her abilities and the interaction between her and Kenji. But Mafi got so carried away with discussing the love triangle, she forgot to give the main plot she started so well in the first book the ending it deserved. Instead she suddenly had to tie things together in the last part and because of that, things happened way too easily.

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Conclusion

What started off as a promising series with a fascinating plot quickly degenerated into a series mainly focussed on a clichéd and overly dramatic love triangle. It’s such a shame Mafi didn’t pay more attention to the plot and a little less to all the drama. I read a few interviews with her and she prizes herself for being a really quick writer. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but that makes me feel like this whole series could have been better had she taken a little more time for rewriting. And a good round of editing couldn’t have hurt either. Don’t get me wrong, I do love Mafi’s writing – Furthermore was one of my favorite books last year. It’s just a shame to see someone not live up to their full potential. Of course, these books were the first she’s written, and Furthermore was published fairly recently. That makes me really curious about what she’ll write next.

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