Beginning immediately after Juliette has shot Warner in the arm, I immediately realized Warner was a much more complex character than I had previously given him credit for. It was shortly after his return to base that his father – the Supreme Commander of the Reestablishment – shows up to clean up the mess caused by Juliette and Adam’s escape. He was in the same room with Warner for mere moments before I found myself hating him with a passion.
"His hand closes around my throat.
The movement is so rough and violent I’m almost relieved. Some part of me always hopes he’ll go through with it; that maybe this time he’ll actually let me die. But he never does. It never lasts.
Torture is not torture when there’s any hope of relief."
What kind of child could grow up to lead a normal life with a father that hands out torture as punishment on a regular enough basis for his son to recognize it when it was about to happen? It’s no wonder Warner goes through life, unflinching and emotionless – he needs to be, in order to handle his father.
"I’ve come to believe that the most dangerous man in the world is the one who feels no remorse. The one who never apologizes and therefore seeks no forgiveness. Because in the end it is our emotions that make us weak, not our actions."
But for Warner, what separates him from the evil that is his father, is his emotions. While he can easily pretend to be emotionless, inside he is living in constant turmoil.
"I squeeze my eyes shut tighter and make a weak effort to build the walls that would surely clear my mind. But this time, they don’t work. Her face keeps cropping up, her journal taunting me from its place in my pocket. And I begin to realize that some small part of me doesn’t want to wish away the thoughts of her. Some part of me enjoys the torture.
This girl is destroying me."
But not only did Destroy Me give me a glimpse into Warner’s abusive upbringing and his conflicting emotions surrounding love and duty, it also gave me a glimpse into his mind, his reasons for imprisoning Juliette and for pushing her to her limits.
"I looked forward to her temper. Her tantrums. Her ridiculous arguments. I wanted her to yell at me; I would’ve congratulated her had she ever slapped me in the face. I was always pushing her, toying with her emotions. I wanted to meet the real girl trapped behind the fear. I wanted her to finally break free of her own carefully constructed restraints.
Because while she might be able to feign timidity within the confines of isolation, out here – amid chaos, destruction – I knew she’d become something entirely different. I was just waiting. Every day, patiently waiting for her to understand the breadth of her own potential."
It made me see Juliette in a whole new way – I got to see her through the eyes of someone who understood what kind of childhood she had experienced, who knew first hand the techniques used to break her spirit, and who saw her potential. It elevated Juliette from “a weak, ridiculously melodramatic and frustratingly insecure protagonist” into a person I could understand, and possibly even relate to. Destroy Me might have saved this series for me, because it brought me greater understanding of not only Warner, but Juliette.
The only quibble I have with Destroy Me is its ending. Just as things are starting to get good, just as I’m getting the answers I so desperately needed in Shatter Me…it ends. But, considering it is a novella in the middle of a series, I guess I can’t really expect an ending that resolves anything for Warner – but anything over that abrupt ending would have been preferable! Geez, even give me a cliffhanger!
Fans of this series need to read Destroy Me - you will love it. People with reservations about this series also need to read Destroy Me - it might rekindle a flame you thought had extinguished.