Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Conceptually, I liked the story line. Juliette returns after the first book with a new home; a literal and metaphorical group of rebels who are readying to take down a corrupt government. They are in a safe training center where they each learn to harness their Energy, a natural gift they have that tends to manifest in different ways. Juliette happens to have two very strong manifestations of Energy. One is that nobody has ever been able to touch her without suffering death or severe bodily damage. Until she met Adam. That's Book 1. Also Book 1 is the accidental discovery that one other person can touch her. Someone who is clearly very evil. Or maybe he's just misunderstood and has daddy issues.
So Book 2 begins with Juliette frustrated because she can't seem to control her energy and she and Adam never have time alone. When they do have time alone, the time is spent with very few uttered words, sensual descriptions (not sexual) and I can appreciate how well written these first encounters are worded. I felt the sexual tension and only vaguely recognized afterward that they were clean. I'm not suggesting you hand this book over to 12 year old girl but it is descriptively inoffensive. One scene pushes the line, but still well written.
My problem with the book is the way it is written. It's all through Juliette's tortured and slightly OCD and tangential mind. She has diarrhea of her thoughts and nothing is filtered. It analyzes and over-analyzes every little thing, repeating words and phrases and it just. Moves. So. Slowly. A question is asked. The reader has to wade through 3 or 4 pages of tangential thought, some not even connected, then maybe the answer will be given. There is no rhyme nor reason to Juliette's thoughts and I felt ambivalence for both her and Adam. And, Adam? Written far too angsty. Not even realistic. I found I much preferred Warner for his pragmatism. Some angst but he is written to believe himself to be damaged and heartless. Yes, we realize he's human too, but there are much fewer wasted words surrounding him.
Have a story to tell? Tell it. Use words judiciously. There were times the author was masterful at using words. Other times it felt contrived just to keep the reader hanging on for the answer to a question by filling pages and pages of a confused, innocent teenage girl's mind in free association.
There is a good story here. When action happens, it happens fast and without many words. The majority of the book is free association. I just found myself irritated with the writing style.