Book Reviews

Book Review: Imagine Me

Title: Imagine Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Romance, Dystopia, Fiction

What It’s About: Ella wakes up in the middle of the night, startled from a dream. Memories have been assaulting her over the few nights that they have been staying with the sanctuary. Aaron stays by her side and tries to comfort there, but Ella feels like holes are beginning to form in her memory. Things that she did but didn’t remember any longer–like the fact that Aaron had proposed to her.

Suddenly, Emmaline assaults Ella, taking over her body through her mind. Ella finds herself outside, at the edge of the Sanctuary, screaming, while Aaron tries to hold on to her.

Kenji sees them and tries to make his way towards them, fighting the barrier that Emmaline has set up to keep everyone away. She assaults him through her mental powers, and tries to make him bury himself alive, but realizes that he’s too weak. Kenji helps Aaron take Ella back to the safety of the Sanctuary, despite the fact that everything outside of the borders of the Sanctuary is complete chaos–horizons flipping, waves of fire coming towards. It’s only thanks to Stephan, who has some super strength, that they manage to haul Ella back to the Sanctuary and to the healing twins.

They tell Kenji and Warner that Ella’s has changed–whatever Emmaline has done, changed her genetic composition, and also her brain has been so damaged by the assault, that they don’t know whether Ella will make it out alive or if she will be the same person if she ever does make it out alive. Warner is distraught, and is cruel, making everyone around him cry with his meanness. Nouria calls Kenji to talk to him in order to ask more questions, and tells him that if they have Emmaline in their grasp, they need to kill Ella. Kenji is absolutely against that idea, and when Sam, Nouria’s wife, joins them along with Castle, they have it out. More of the members of the group–Winston, Ian, Lily, Alia, Haider, and Nazeera come out into the hall, before Nazeera makes them march back into the hospital room to talk about what to do with Ella.

It is then that Nazeera reveals that what Emmaline did through Ella probably showed a great spike in power–up until recently, the Reestablishment has not known which of the rebel groups had been protecting Ella and the rest of her team, but with that spike in power, they now had a great idea where it is. It won’t take them long to find them, but they also know that Anderson wants to trade Juliette for Adam and James. When Kenji confronts him about his brothers, Warner says that he doesn’t care. Ultimately, they decide that they need to lock down the whole Sanctuary–no one in or out, except for Nazeera and Kenji who can use their invisibility to get supplies–until Ella wakes up.

Ella is unconscious for four days, when she finally wakes up, albeit momentarily–Aaron knows that something is wrong with her–her energy is off, and it’s clear that Emmaline has done something to Ella, though no one knows that Emmaline has hidden a part of her consciousness inside of Ella. When Evie, Ella and Emmaline’s mother, died, Emmaline knew that it was her only chance to try to break free from the control, and she managed to gain control before Max, the girl’s father, gained back control of what was the rest of Emmaline. She had been searching since then for Ella, and when she found her, she didn’t want to be alone any longer.

As Ella wakes up, Anderson and his army attacks. An all-out battle ensues, and Warner hides Ella in the forest, before they make their way back. Anderson pulls a gagged and bound James out, saying that he will exchange him for the girl. When no one comes forward, Anderson calls for his son, and Warner steps up. Anderson fights against Warner, getting furious by the second, because Warner is defending and not attacking, he’s emotionless, not giving his father the satisfaction of his emotions. Then soldiers attack Warner, and he kills them all easily, and tells his father that he will give himself up if his father stops chasing after Juliette, but his father doesn’t want that–he wants Juliette. Anderson shoots Kenji and Nazeera, and goads Warner, who stabs him, and then he runs after the one Supreme Guard who runs away.

Ella wakes up on a medical table in Oceania, and stays quiet–she asks Emmaline to show her where she is, and Emmaline obliges. She lays quietly and listens to Anderson and Tatiana talking about how Evie always planned everything–with two daughters that have the same exact DNA, just so that Ella could be the backup if anything went wrong with Emmaline–and that Evie always knew that someone had tampered with the memory wipe of Ella. Tatiana mentions that bringing Ella back to this base is a huge risk because of the proximity to Emmaline, and then she and Anderson start to argue because of that risk. Anderson came back to Oceania because he needed Max as his own injuries were too serious, but Tatiana thinks that he’s becoming a liability. A third person joins them and asks if Ella is up yet, saying that she needs to be woken up because all of the children had been tainted and they need to get them under control and clear their minds as soon as possible. This person also reveals that Anderson shot his own daughter and Anderson mentions that it was a practical decision along with shooting Kenji. Ella quickly realizes that the third person is Ibrahim, who then threatens Anderson. Tatiana leaves after yet another heated debate with Anderson, and then he stabs Ella in the thigh with a scalpel. He then tells her that she belongs to him, and he takes control over her mind.

Kenji and the rest of the individuals bury the bodies, and goes to the dining tent with Alia. The tent has now been turned into a medical tent, with the twins tending the most severe injuries, while the minor injuries are being handled by medical staff. Kenji visits Nazeera, who is still unconscious and recovering from her gunshot wound, and Castle comes to talk to him. He tells him that he should go talk to Warner, and be a friend. Of course, after the fight, there are many rumors surrounding Warner–outlandish stories that Kenji takes with a grain of salt, and everyone seems to think that he’s the savior. Ian, Brendan, Winston, Lily and another person call Kenji and Castle over to their table, where they share food–and they all agree with Castle that Kenji should talk to Warner. They believe that he’s in a dark place and needs a friend, so they try to chase Kenji towards Warner. At that moment, they are interrupted by Alia who tells them that James is up, so Kenji runs over to where the boy is staying.

There, he finds Warner, and tries to eavesdrop on them, but Warner is able to tell that Kenji is there, and tells James to ask Kenji himself the question about whether Kenji knew that they were brothers. It’s then that James reveals that Adam willingly gave himself up to Anderson–he went to Anderson, bartering with his powers that allow him to cancel out the other powers, in exchange for James’ safety. Warner and Kenji leave after a brief conversation with James, and they start arguing with each other int he open. Kenji manages to get Warner to agree to eat, and they stay at Kenji’s house, while people bring him some food. Warner reveals that he proposed to Ella, and Kenji tries to get more information out of him. He realizes that Warner is in the same depths of despair as he was when his parents were murdered. They try to talk about what to do in order to get Ella back, and Warner knows that he has to go to Oceania. Then, a girl shows up saying that she has food for Warner, but it turns out that she has scorpions beneath the food in order to try to kill Warner. Kenji ends up shooting her when she pulls a gun on Warner.

In the meantime, Juliette wakes up feeling cold. She dresses up in military fatigues and polished boots. After three days of training, she was selected to be the supreme soldier for the North American Supreme Commander, and this is the day that she proves that she deserves her position. She makes the two-mile hike to base and visits Commander Anderson. He asks her a few questions about her personal life, and she looks at him closely, before he tells her that she will shadow him the rest of the day. He tells her that he is her master, and gets her on her knees to tell him that he is her master. The next day she has her first official day of work, and he completely ignores her for several hours, so she just watches him without real reason, keeping her eyes ahead. He takes her to see Adam, whom she doesn’t recognize, though his features do trigger a flash of memory in her. Anderson sees that she has some kind of feeling and tells her that she has to share with him everything, because she is his. So she tells him that the boy reminds her of Anderson, and then she also tells Anderson that he is extremely handsome. That unsettles him, and he calls Max to tell him about the development. He then tells her a bit about Adam, and why he is there. Juliette daydreams, and Anderson catches onto that and tells her that he wants to know what she was thinking. She tells him that she was wondering if he would ever let her use the restroom. Anderson is completely flustered, and then he starts asking her questions about what she would do if he asked her to do something. All that Juliette says is that she would do what he asked of her. He calls someone–Darius–in and tells Juliette that he won’t be requiring Darius’ services anymore, asking her to dispose of him. She uses her powers on him, until Anderson stops her with a weapon, and Juliette feels disappointed because Darius is not dead.

Anderson takes Juliette to meet Max, and she sees that he has a face full of hatred for him. Someone summons Juliette, and Anderson makes a phone call through an earpiece to tell them to clear the summons–he’s the only one with the authority to tell Juliette what to do. Then, Anderson orders her to wait outside of the space after she meets Max, but Juliette stops just before the exit, and eavesdrops–She hears Anderson complain to Max that Juliette is falling in love with him, and Max just laughs saying that considering that he was the father of two men that she fell in love with, it’s practically written in her DNA that she would be drawn to Anderson. Max suggests that maybe Anderson should seduce her.

Juliette stands at the door, waiting for Anderson, and looks around the hallway. Suddenly it makes sense to her that she should explore the darkened Hallway, so she does, despite the fact that it is against orders. She finds a Hologram of Valentina Castillo, who tells her that the other kids of the Supreme Commanders were that way, so Juliette follows the Hologram to a room, where blue light pulses and she finds 8 glass cylinders, five of which contain human figures. She recognizes Valentina and steps closer to the tank, when she is interrupted by Anderson. She tells him that she thought she was supposed to save Valentina, and then Anderson has her cut off her own finger, which she obliges, after which she faints.

In the meantime, after killing the girl in Kenji’s house, Warner goes in search of Castle–he knows that he is behind this, and when they find Nouria, who tells them to follow her. It is revealed that Castle talked to the girl, but he didn’t send her. Then Warner and Kenji reveal that they need to go to Oceania and planned on stealing a plane. Nouria agrees to help them, and says that she was thinking of taking a page out of Juliette’s book by taking over the Sector. Nazeera shows up, and they steal a plane. En route to Oceania, they talk a bit, just before being shot out of the sky. So the three of them jump out of the sky and try to become invisible, except that this time the Supreme Commanders are ready for them–looking for heat signatures. Warner throws a grenade at them, and they escape to a nearby field. The three of them split up, with Nazeera looking for the command center to hack into the databases in order to allow Warner and Kenji to walk around the compound with access. In the meantime, Warner and Kenji use the vents to get around the compound.

Juliette wakes up in Anderson’s bedroom, and for a moment he is casual with her, with an unbuttoned shirt, but then the alarms start going off, and he buttons up, tells Max to wait with Juliette, and orders Juliette to stay in the room. At some point, Supreme Commander Ibrahim shows up and overrides Anderson’s orders, taking Juliette with him down to the belly of the compound, where they meet up with Anderson, Max and Tatiana. While there, they start having the debate about moving Emmaline’s consciousness into Juliette, but Emmaline is still too strong, which could cause things to go wrong. Tatiana and Max leave to take care of some things, and Ibrahim shoots Anderson after a debate.

Warner and Kenji managed to make it into the room, and they watch what happens, at which point, Warner makes himself visible, and kills Ibrahim. Anderson tells Juliette to kill them, but they manage to shoot Anderson several times, and then Warner fights Juliette, matching her blow by blow. Nazeera shows up, and with Kenji they disappear to another room to find the rest of the kids. Nazeera follows Haider, Lena, Stephan, Nicolas, Valentina and Adam out of the room, and they run just as the whole sector goes bust.

In the meantime, Warner keeps fighting with Juliette, and trying to get her to remember–he starts kissing her, telling her that she knows his name. Juliette goes through a breakdown, and remembers that she is Ella. They find Emmaline, but before they could get to her, Max shows up and freezes them. Ella powers through, destroying the mechanism that has them frozen, and then she shatters Emmaline’s cylinder, leaving Max in complete shock, which is all that Emmaline needs to kill him with her touch. Ella catches Emmaline, and they share a moment, where Emmaline tells her what she wants her to do–destroy everything, and Ella asks to take her body back with her, so that they won’t ever be separated. She then destroys everything and the sector goes on fire.

Two weeks later, Warner is angry at Kenji because he destroyed a building housing Alia’s designs–Alia was creating Juliette’s wedding dress. So the day of their wedding, they are trying to get Juliette a dress, when Kenji shows up to take them back to the Sanctuary, which is where they live. Outside of the Sanctuary, there are a lot of people waiting for a glimpse of Juliette–as she is now known to the world. The only one who is able to call her Ella is Aaron, and she has become so popular after taking down the Reestablishment that everyone wants to see her.

My Verdict: I actually could not put the book down–it was so good. So emotionally charged, especially with Warner being such a jerk after everything that happens with Juliette. I actually wasn’t expecting all of this–I thought that maybe Juliette would have joined the fight and destroyed Anderson on the battlefield, so the fact that she was kidnapped was unexpected.

There were parts of the book that were expected and some that were not expected. I did expect that Warner would get Juliette back by fighting for her memories to come back. I did expect that Nazeera was going to join them for the flight. But what I didn’t expect was for Adam to have given himself up so willingly, and for Haider and Stephan to get caught so easily while Warner got left behind. I did expect that Emmaline was going to die–she wasn’t ever going to make it, and while I understand why and how Emmaline was able to get her consciousness into Ella’s, what I didn’t quite understand is why she couldn’t continue to survive in Ella–like a split personality. I guess that would be too cruel to Ella, but it’s certainly a possibility.

There were a couple of unexplainable things–like how did Anderson get away during the battle, when Warner had someone watch him, or how is it possible that Anderson got killed (did he really die, finally?!) at the end if he has been able to heal himself. Possible theory for the second one is that he got shot so many times so quickly that he wasn’t able to heal himself and as a result did die.

Overall, it was a good book and good ending to the series.

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