Book Review: Restore Me, an Embroiling Read
I just finished reading my fourth book this week: Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi. As it happens, it’s also the fourth book in Tahereh’s Shatter Me series. It was an embroiling read, as intense as the three books before it, but less for the action than for the emotion. And, of course, it too, has a cliffhanger ending. Guys. I can’t handle all these books with cliffhanger endings! So frustrating! It was good on so many levels, but you might want to wait until more books in this series come out before you pick this one up, because you’ll get to the end and be like:
What Restore Me Is About
To tell you that, I have to tell you a little bit about what the previous three books are about, so this section will have some spoilers. The main character, Juliette Ferrars, has a lethal touch. This is in a far-future America where everyone’s all but killed everyone else off, and what’s left of humanity on this continent has organized itself into 50 independently-governed sectors. A group called The Reestablishment endeavors to control all of them, and wants to do so by wiping out all languages but one, all religions, everything that divides humankind up. Juliette has been kept in an asylum’s solitary confinement cell for almost a year because of her touch, until she’s given a cellmate who’s immune to it. He eventually reveals that he’s working for The Reestablishment, and then introduces her to Warner, the son of the Supreme Commander, who has come to free her so that she can use her touch to punish traitors to The Reestablishment.
Juliette doesn’t want to use her touch to hurt anyone, especially not traitors to The Reestablishment, so Adam, her cellmate, helps her escape. They get away, and Adam introduces her to a rag-tag group of people forming a rebellion against The Reestablishment, a crazy feat to even attempt given its size and power. But eventually Juliette reveals her ability and finds out that others in the group have powers as well. Over the course of a couple of books—Unravel Me and Ignite Me—they gather reinforcements, against all odds, and kill the Supreme Commander. Warner, the son, tracks Juliette obsessively, she thinks, because he wants to turn her over to his father, but really, because he is in love with her. He also happens to be immune to her touch, although no one knows that. So, by the end of book 3, the Supreme Commander is dead, Juliette learns how to turn her power on and off at will, and she realizes that she might love Warner too, broken young man that he is (like her).
Restore Me, then, is about Juliette’s first days as the new 17-year-old Supreme Commander of Sector 45, with Warner by her side. Adam, who was an initial love interest, is no longer in the picture. She was able to rally a whole sector of people and some allies to defeat the forces that the previous Supreme Commander brought to bear, but now that she’s in charge, she realizes how little she knows about everything. She’s quickly overwhelmed, especially when an announcement is made that the teenage children of the Supreme Commanders of all the other sectors are all coming to meet her. She finds unexpected allies and enemies in some of them, discovers secrets about her past that she didn’t even know existed but that upturn everything she thinks she knows about herself, and doesn’t discover enough about Warner to merit how deeply she falls in love with him. But she’s desperate for people, for touch, for help.
Who Might Like Restore Me and Why
Restore Me is definitely dystopian, in a way that reminds me of the Obernewtyn Chronicles, a series written by Australian Isobelle Carmody also based on the premise that many hundreds or thousands of years in the future, mankind almost makes itself extinct, to the point that cars and skyscrapers and Netflix and the internet are mere relics of the past, and the bad things we did to the environment before that happened caused mutations to develop in people that gave them certain abilities.
It goes without saying that if you’ve read any of the previous books in this series, you’ll like this one, if you’re okay with cliffhanger endings. If you’re a fan of the Twilight saga, you’d probably also like this book because Juliette, like Belle, is wrapped up in her inadequacies but drawn by some otherworldly chemistry to someone she shouldn’t be drawn to. There is a sex scene, and some swearing.
And, for you science fiction fans, there is very little world-building, so much so that it can be a little frustrating. To a certain extent, the descriptions of the characters’ environment has been taken care of in the previous books, but since they’ve destroyed a lot of it, and are rebuilding, more world-building would’ve definitely been helpful.
And, while I detest the baiting of cliffhanger endings, I anxiously await the release of the next book in the Shatter Me series.
Have you read anything by Tahereh Mafi? What did you think?