Review of Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi
Rating: 4.0/5 Stars
I’m just a sentient being existing in the world right now. I know I can think and feel. But I’m not sure how to ultimately feel about this book. Did I like it? Absolutely. Did I love it? Only parts of it.
First, let me start off by saying that I’m sure its not easy to come back to a series years later and try to reconnect to the story and the character’s minds. I feel like Mafi did a good job, though some things felt amiss and out of place to me. All of that said, I’m going to attempt to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, but will add warnings if I feel something spoils the book.
Let’s talk about the story itself. This is a very character driven book. The plot driven parts are really only the result of new characters being introduced to the story. The story mostly follows Juliette adjusting to becoming supreme commander and how it affects the lives of those around her. That said, I felt bored for the first half of the book until some new characters got introduced and some big revelations came to light. I felt as though the story was going nowhere until that point. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to reconnect to the characters, but there was a lot of running in circles during the first half.
Speaking of the characters, I hope I’m not the only one who felt like Warner really wasn’t Warner enough in this book. As I said, I imagine it is very hard to write a character you may not have planned to continue the story of. Plus, I felt the anxiety rep was a pivotal point in the book and made Warner so much more real. He struggled so much in this book and I really really just want to give him a hug. However, I felt as though Warner’s reaction to some scenarios felt too soft, not like the very extreme Warner we came to fall in love with. I did enjoy Warner’s POV and his inner monologue was great – but it sure felt like his character changed a lot in two weeks. I did however, enjoy Warner’s interactions with Adam (can you believe I actually enjoyed the very few Adam scenes in this book?) and Kenji (my brotp dreams are coming true!).
AND HOLY COW PEOPLE, COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER. I felt like half of the problems in this book would have been solved if people would just talk to each other. That was another thing that felt out of place. There are certain characters who are afraid to bring things up/ask questions and I felt as though that did not fit their characters at all. I cannot tell you how much I was frustrated with that whole plot point. After everything a couple of the characters have experienced together, they feel untrusting of each other and freeze up at the thought of actually talking?
Also, Juliette annoys me. Despite a handful of times, she has no spine and half the time she does she is also having an epic meltdown. I just have a lot of trouble connecting with her character because she feels very outlandish. Don’t get me wrong, I love this series and was so excited to see her character change at the end of Ignite Me, but lets face it – I’m here for Warner and Kenji. Nevertheless, there was a specific scene with Juliette that I loved toward the end of the book. She has just gone through a massive ordeal and meets a handful of new characters. Her personality here is exactly the Juliette I know she can be, then another conflict comes and its ruined.
Now, let’s talk about two things I loved in this book. A) Kenji is the best bff ever and I love that he continues to be supportive (and funny!), but we also get to see a serious side to him and get more BACKSTORY! I felt as though Kenji was the closest to himself of all the characters in this series. I live for the Kenji and Warner scenes. B) THE QUEEN OF SAVAGERY, NAZEERA. Holy crap girl. I love the way she handled Kenji and the other characters in this book. The whole head covering scene was golden and I enjoyed the way Mafi directed that whole scene.
Also the transphobia rep? Can I just drown that character in a river of Warner’s rejection?
Finally, the ending. What the heck happened? I cannot say much without spoiling it, but it does remind us just the state that Juliette was in when this series first started. However, everything felt so out of left field, it was hard to keep up with why things happened the way they did. I’m not sure how to feel about the direction this story is going, but my feelings about this book will not keep me from continuing it. That said, I felt a little disappointed in this one. I still feel as though Ignite Me is the best book in this series, even if it ended abruptly (as Restore Me ended as well).
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