Review | Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi

“It’s not insane to imagine that sometimes even horrible people are searching for a way out of their own darkness.”

Tahereh Mafi, Defy Me

Synopsis

The gripping fifth installment in the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Shatter Me series. Will Juliette’s broken heart make her vulnerable to the strengthening darkness within her?

Juliette’s short tenure as the supreme commander of North America has been an utter disaster. When the children of the other world leaders show up on her doorstep, she wants nothing more than to turn to Warner for support and guidance. But he shatters her heart when he reveals that he’s been keeping secrets about her family and her identity from her—secrets that change everything.

Juliette is devastated, and the darkness that’s always dwelled within her threatens to consume her. An explosive encounter with unexpected visitors might be enough to push her over the edge.


Review

It’s actually been a good bit since I read Defy Me, but after sitting with my thoughts for the last few weeks, I feel like I’m finally ready to talk about it.

First off, before you even read this, I’m going to tell you that there are spoilers. It’s not intentional, but there is just something that I have to say.

So, if you haven’t read Defy Me yet, please be aware that I’m going to discuss a major spoiler.

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Ok, now that you’ve left.

I really liked this book. I really enjoyed it, but man am I so upset with the ending. Honestly, I get that Juliette (Ella?) and Warner are end game, but can we not forget that they are 17 and 20 years old? They got engaged and I understand that they live in a crazy terrible world and they’ve both almost died about 10 times each, but like, they are children.

Maybe I’ll get shit for this opinion, but I just can’t get past it. The plot point just doesn’t sit well with me.

Outside of this bit of the plot, I loved this installment. It was crazy and insane and Kenji’s point of view was everything I needed.

Also, Mafi does such a good job leaving you on the edge of your seat and keeping you from trusting anyone that you’re so paranoid by the end that you’re not even really sure you trust Kenji anymore.

The crazy thing about this is that, with four novels before this one, Mafi has created such a sprawling world. There was a moment when I was reading where I paused and realized that Mafi had expanded well beyond the small scope of a psych ward and a compound and into actual territories that had only ever been mentioned briefly.

Warner has had multiple character arcs and Juliette has an entirely different identity at this point in the series. The only person that feels like they really haven’t changed is Kenji, and even in Defy Me we see an entirely new side to him.

To add, the imagery is astounding. Mafi brings to life some of the most grotesque images that I’ve imagined, and I feel like that’s saying a lot considering Ransom Riggs description of the wites has always made me gross feeling.

Overall, I gave Defy Me 5/5 stars despite my unhappiness with the ending.

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