As Tahereh Mafi would say, it’s allliiiivvvee!! Ignite Me, the much-anticipated finale to Mafi’s Shatter Me series, hits shelves today. And, guys, it’s really good. Trilogies have the tendency to peter out over the course of the series, but the opposite is true for the Shatter Me trilogy. It just keeps getting better, and Ignite Me stays true to form. It’s Mafi’s strongest work to date, and longtime fans of the series won’t be disappointed. Here, Mafi answered some of our spoiler-free questions about the book—we know it hasn’t been out long. Check it out after the jump.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you feel now that Ignite Me is out?
Tahereh Mafi: I feel simultaneous relief and terror. [Laughs]
Ignite Me is easily my favorite book of the series. Can you pick a favorite?
It is often difficult to follow up with a sequel that satisfies readers. It’s difficult to choose just one because it’s kind of like a child in different stages of their life. One is a teenager. One is a young adult. One is an adult. It’s like you’re seeing someone grow up, and you appreciate each part of them. What I can say is that I’m really happy to have all three books out at the same. The growth that Juliette experiences—both as a character and through the prose—is something that I had intended from the very beginning but could not express without actually being able to deliver all the books at the same time. Her voice finds its strength. That was supposed to reflect her growth as a character.
In this book, Juliette has to make a choice between Warner and Adam. Did you know from the beginning who she would end up with?
I knew after I finished writing the first book. I don’t outline when I write a first book. I just write by the seat of my pants. I don’t really know exactly where the story is going. I just ask myself tons and tons of questions until I get to the end. But with the second and third books, you have to plot that out a little bit. You have to have some kind of an outline because you’re in the world, and you have to follow the rules of that world…. But by the end of the first book, I felt very, very, very strongly that I knew who Juliette would end up with. Ultimately, I did take the characters where I felt was right.
Do you find that more readers are Team Adam or Team Warner?
It’s interesting. When Shatter Me first came out, the majority of readers were very firmly Team Adam, and understandably so. But when Destroy Me came out and when Unravel Me came out, that really started to change. And a lot of people who had been quiet Warner supporters after reading Shatter Me became a lot more vocal about it…. Now it’s almost 50/50. But the reason I hesitate to answer this question with authority is that I don’t know if it’s just the really vocal fans [reaching] out to me.
This is the end of the series, but would you ever consider a spinoff series?
I would never say never. But right now, I’m focusing on something else and working on something new. It’s really nice to step away from this dystopian world for a little while because it’s really depressing. [Laughs] It’s really bleak and kind of soul-sucking, so it will be nice to switch gears for a while. But there are lots of stories that still haven’t been told about these characters. Maybe one day, if there’s an opportunity to come back to them. I certainly wouldn’t shut the door on that.
What new projects are you working on?
Unfortunately, I’m in that weird position where I can’t really talk about what I’m working on right now, but it’s something I’m extremely excited about. There was something really wonderful and beautiful about working on [the Shatter Me series] because it was something that struck me in a very powerful way. But this new book is something that makes me excited in a completely different way. I’m really happy to be in this new world with these new characters.
Anything else you want to add?
Honestly, I think more than anything else, I just feel grateful. I dedicated this book to the readers, and my acknowledgements were essentially just focused on thanking the readers who have supported these novels. I don’t think I would have been so motivated to continue writing these books if it weren’t for the readers who reach out to me: the emails, the tweets, the Facebook messages, the people who come up to me at signings and just start crying. Those are the moments that have made these last couple of years just absolutely incredible. Ultimately, it is my greatest hope that readers everywhere—regardless of Team Adam or Team Warner—will find this a worthy final installment.