Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)
by Tahereh Mafi 

Genre: Dystopia/Fantasy
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
Source: purchased hardcover
Age Rating: 15+

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. 

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
My Review 

I'm having a hard time figuring out what I want to write about this one. There were many good things about it in that the writing was very impressive and innovative. I like that I could read it quickly because it's composed of short sentences, which gives the effect of frantic, quick movement. The strike-throughs didn't bother me at all because they're just asides (something I do all the time when I write by using parentheses, like right now). But, this doesn't mean I loved this book. I wanted to very much so, even expected to, but I didn't.

For so much of it, I thought I was reading a thinly veiled romance novel disguised as a dystopian fantasy. Thankfully, it redeemed itself by actually being about a rebellion against the dystopian government that makes up the backdrop of the story. I should have felt so relieved at that point, but I didn't because it suddenly became a crack at retelling the X-Men comic books series by Marvel. That's okay if the intended readership is mostly unfamiliar with that comic book, but I doubt those who are familiar will be terribly impressed. 

I think if the characters with special abilities, including Juliette, had abilities I'd rarely ever seen used before, or never had seen before (and, I've seen almost everything), then I would have been happier, but everyone had an X-Men mutant ability that had been thought up several decades ago already. So, I can't really feel impressed about that.

And, as for the romance, it felt rushed. I didn't get a chance to develop interest in the characters before romance was shoved down my throat. Adam was a nice character, but he was just too into Juliette in an unrealistic way. Same for Warner. Maybe Warner is weirdly obsessed because he's crazy, and that's believable, but Adam was too conveniently the perfect boyfriend without a flaw. Conversely, Warner was very flawed, and was totally neat-o at first, but when he lost all control of himself, I just lost interest. I love great villain characters, but that boy needs to enroll in Villain Training School to learn to get a grip. Great villains don't break character, nor do they ever let their guards down so easily.

Ultimately, this book was not the right one for me, even though it is immaculately written. But, great writing doesn't cut it when you don't have a particularly original premise, nor a particularly unusual story to tell. Not to mention, you simply run out of steam at the end, winding down the story in a boring, uninteresting way that doesn't make me want to read any sequel novels. It certainly has an audience who does and will continue to love and cherish it, but, unfortunately, I deviate too far outside of those boundaries.

My score: 3.5 stars out of 5. (I liked it, but not overly-so.)


  1. Given how in sync we generally are on our opinions of books, I am pretty sure I'll feel the same about this one. But I'm still going to read it out of curiosity because it's so darn popular. Shame about Warner. I thought he might have been a saving grace.

    1. @Lan: Yeah, I really had high hopes for Warner, but, for me, he was disappointing after all. I have very high standards for villain characters. But, in the book I'm reading now, Halflings, there's a VERY awesome anti-hero that's quickly making me love him to death. He's more villain than anti-hero, and I only hope he doesn't go soft on me!

  2. Aw, sorry you didn't like it, but I can completely understand why! I totally crushed on the characters, and for whatever reason it just worked for me, even though I agree completely with all your criticisms! Funny how that works sometimes, eh?

    Actually, in retrospect, I think part of my enjoyment of this book could be attributed to the fact that I listened to the audiobook, and the voice performance was outstanding - it brought out all this emotion and depth to Juliette. Without that, I wonder what I'd have thought of the story?

    1. @BJ: Sometimes voice acting in an audiobook can make or break a book for ya, and I'm included in that. But, usually reading a book to myself is the default-no-nonsense way for me, since I make up the characters voices in my head to suit my tastes. Still, this one just didn't work for me, but I can see other people really liking it.

  3. I'm sorry you didn't love Shatter Me. I did love it, but I'm one of the few that knows nothing about X-Men. I had no idea that it's similar to that. I hope you continue to enjoy Halflings!
    Great review!

    1. @Andrea: It's okay. Not every book is a winner for everyone!

  4. I totally agree with your review. I wanted to love this book, but I was bored about 1/3 of the way in and the X-Men rip off really annoyed me (not to mention that there was absolutely NO set up for it). The writing, though beautiful, became distracting; I wasn't sure it was the right style for a dystopian romance. I also thought the romance was over-blown and underdeveloped.

    I did totally love Warner. Even when he went skitso at the end, I continued to love him as a villain. If they end up turning this into a movie, I would love to see who they cast for him.

    1. @Camille: Yeah, there was no set-up for the X-Men thing at the end. It was out of nowhere. And, yes, the writing was distracting and I got annoyed with Juliette's constant hyperboles about everything. Just get used to it already! I said many times.

      I think this is going to be a film, so we might get a live Warner, after all. I think he had real potential, but wasn't quite the villain I wanted him to be.

  5. I had problems with the writing style. It seemed too metaphoric at times for me. Four metaphors on a page? NO. TOO MUCH. and a lot of the time I didn't understand the connection.

    To me, it read like a draft not quite there for publication. The characters could have been flushed out a bit more, and the romance needed work definitely. I liked Warner, but probably because he seemed SO crazy.

    Idk. I liked it for the most part, and can't wait for the next one.

    1. @Ashelynn: Yeah, 4 metaphors on 1 page? Definitely too much. It did feel like it was trying too hard at times to be really great writing, and that doesn't impress me half as much as a great story with incredible characters. This one was too writing-rich and weak in story and character.


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