“Torture is not torture when there’s any hope of relief.”
We learn more about Warner’s history and motivation when his father enters the picture. Warner’s ruthlessness, cunning and cruelty are nothing compared to his dad’s. If I read the above quote with only Shatter Me for context, I would automatically assume it was Warner thinking on his actions towards his soldiers and prisoners. Rather it is pulled from a scene where Warner is the one being tortured, by his own father, no less. He is abused physically, mentally and emotionally, and to cope organises his emotions carefully, choosing to “…lock away the things that do not serve me.”
He’s categorical and careful in his actions; when Adam and Kenji escape with Juliette, not only has he lost a prized possession (or person? If and how he distinguishes this is something I feel to be paramount), but the rigid control he held has slipped through his fingers, and it begins to unravel him. His self-hate is often palpable, and just as Juliette did in Shatter Me, I felt sorry for him. I feel that the most revealing moment in Destroy Me was when Warner faced his simulation; what he struggles with most of all is beyond troubling and yet makes perfect sense, given his story.
After finishing this book review, a quote from another book, Stolen, came to the forefront of my mind: “And it’s hard to hate someone once you understand them.”
While I can sympathise with Warners desire to read Juliettes notebook, for me this is where their connection takes on a darker and more twisted edge; the development of their relationship is based on a breach of trust. He is memorising her story religiously and in it he sees parts of himself reflected. His relationship with Juliette is the much more unconventional one, but I personally love the mutual discovery she and Adam experience more than Warner’s emotional hoarding, which influences the proceedings of Unravel Me.
Juliette is the one person who truly means something to him – and he recognises this about himself: And I felt it then: this strange, inexplicable sense that she might be the only person in the world I could really care about. She makes him vulnerable in a way that others do not. As the sole stimulus to evoke these emotions, she becomes the person he is most possessive of and obsessive over. But what makes his psychopathic tendencies apparent is that he does not regret the pain he has inflicted upon the girl he loves, and he has a continued desire to test her limits and use them for greater goals. “And now she’s out there, somewhere, unleashed on society. What a beautiful disaster,” he reflects at one point.