Book Review: A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Book: A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Published October 2018 by HarperTeen|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

I really liked this book!  When I heard she was coming out with another book, I knew I had to read it, especially since her Shatter Me series is pretty awesome.  I was curious to see what a YA contemporary written by Mafi would like, and it didn’t disappoint!

I really liked Shirin, and I thought she was a great character.  I understood where she was coming from, and she was pretty guarded.  I don’t blame her for being so guarded, and I probably would be too if I had to deal with everything she had to deal with.  We feel her isolation and how different she feels, and we see how people make assumptions.  I also don’t think I’ve seen a character who liked break-dancing, and it’s different in a good way.

I loved the relationship she had with her brother, and with the other guys in their break-dancing club.  Shirin and her brother are very different people but I liked their bond.  He’s a great character, and while we see him quite a bit, I wish we saw more of him.  He’s definitely one of my favorite characters.

I think I would have been fine without the romance- it didn’t really do anything for me, especially since Shirin was dealing with people’s stereotypes and racism in a post-9/11 world while Ocean’s biggest concern was not wanting to be on the basketball team anymore.  I get they have very different experiences and things going on in their lives, and I do appreciate that dating Shirin was eye-opening to what other people are going through, but I felt like they were at very different points.

And while I’m not a huge fan of love triangles, I think I might have been at least somewhat okay with it had it happened.  But maybe not, considering I would have been fine without the romance.  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, and wanting Shirin to be with anyone else.  Yusuf had a lot of potential as a character (not just a love interest for Shirin), and I wish we saw more of him.

4 stars.  I really liked A Very Large Expanse Of Sea, and this book is worth checking out, even if Shatter Me was not your thing.  It’s beautiful and heart-breaking, and Shirin was amazing.

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Book Review: Restore Me By Tahereh Mafi

Book: Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

Published March 2018 by HarperCollins|448 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Shatter Me #4

Genre: YA Dystopia

Juliette Ferrars thought she’d won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she’s got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

When I heard that there was going to be another book in the series, I was excited.  Nervous, but excited.  I mean, I really like the series, and I’m glad that we’re getting more books.  But I was also unsure, because where was this new set of books headed?  Would they add to Juliette’s story and world, or would they take away from it?

I am glad to say that this book has added to the series and to Juliette’s world.  I do wish I had re-read the first three books, because it’s been several years since I read the series, and I was a little bit fuzzy on what happened.  Restore Me does reference the previous books, of course, but it took me some time to get back into this world and get to know the characters again.

I liked seeing what happened after the events of Ignite Me, and there is so much more to this world than I thought. Restore Me makes me want to re-read the series just to see if I can figure certain things out.  We get so many different revelations in this book, and part of me wants to see if they’re hinted at in the previous books.

I also liked the excerpts from Juliette’s journals from when she was in the asylum.  For me, they were reminders of what she’s been through, and how much she’s changed.  By the end of the book, she’s such a different character than she is at the beginning.  Plus, we do get some very interesting placements of words and sentences and I liked it.  It made me think of the previous books, though not to the degree we saw before.

I went through this book so fast, because I just needed to know what happened.  Especially with how the book ended.  I have so many questions about Juliette’s family and I especially want to know more about what Castle knew. Something about him seemed so strange and off, and it makes me wonder what he’s really up to.  There are some things that are not adding up- with both Castle, and Warner (plus a few of the other characters), and I’m hoping we get some answers.  I’m not convinced everything will be answered to my satisfaction, but I’m hoping some of my questions will be answered somehow.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels like a lot more books have had multiple narrators.  It worked really well in this book, because there is such a difference between Juliette and Warner.  We see what’s going on with both of them, and we’re getting two very different stories with both Juliette and Warner.  It’s something you’ll have to read, because I don’t want to give anything away.  Restore Me definitely adds to the series, and I can’t wait to read what happens next.

4 stars.  I didn’t love Restore Me, but I can’t wait to read what happens next.