In book review

REVIEW: Imagine Me

Title: Imagine Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre(s):  Young Adult, Fantasy
Release: March, 2020
Rating: ✭✭,5/5

Where to start with this one. Imagine Me concludes the seemingly ever ongoing Shatter Me series (simultaneously one of my favorite fantasy series of all time) with 400 pages of Juliette, Warner and Kenji's adventures in their dystopian universe. We follow these characters one last time as they try to retrieve Juliette from the enemy, while stopping the world from being victim to some sort of apocalypse. 

I'm trying really hard to not turn this review in an endless list of negatives, so let's start with the positives: the highlight of this book, for me, were Kenji's chapters. While not originally a POV in the earlier books, Mafi has developed Kenji's character more and more in the last three books, positioning him as part of a trio. I really enjoyed the humoristic tone Kenji's POV adds to an otherwise overwhelmingly heavy book.

Now, onto the slightly more negative part of this review. Prior to Imagine Me, I'd never rated anything Mafi's written less than five stars, but as a conclusion of a series, Imagine Me was just not my cup of tea. The overall problem I found was that it lacked a climax.
The story feels fragmented as we jump from one scene to the next, adding an epilogue for good measure that didn't feel organic within the timeline at all. To me, the majority of the book honestly just feels like some random scenes jumbled together with a quick fix pasted at the end. It lacks cohesion and the stakes are too low.

A lot of the plot, too, just didn't fully make sense to me. Storylines that include Juliette's sister as a fish (?), as well as the whole masterplan that the majority of the plotlines hinge on just felt contrived and a little weird sometimes. I kept waiting for an explanation that I was sure would come, but it just didn't. I'm not sure what to make of that.

A second aspect that heavily bothered me were the sexual and erotic undertones of the relationship between Anderson and Juliette that were uncomfortable to read, and frankly were very unnecessary. In Imagine Me, the reader follows Juliette who is being mind controlled by Anderson, for whom she develops an attraction. Let me just clarify that Juliette is barely 18 (her age is openly discussed in regards to why Anderson doesn't just rape her), while Anderson is a middle-aged man and the father of her fiancé. If Mafi's intention was to paint a disturbing picture, she definitely succeeded, but, if you ask me, this certainly wasn't a necessary component.

All in all, I found that this book just dragged. It wasn't a satisfying ending and certainly did not do the whole series justice. It felt rushed, lacked cohesiveness and didn't manage to live up to my expectations at all. I'm gutted to only reward this book with 2 out of 5 stars, but I'll definitely read what Mafi puts out in the future!

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