Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi: Review

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.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Dystopian novels have sort of inundated the market, and some of them have turned out to be terrible. In fact, most dystopian novels I've read recently (this include "The Pledge", "Enclave", and the Matched series by Allie Condie and the current favorite "Divergent") have all promised and then disappointed. With Shatter Me drawing rave reviews from most reviewers, I was expecting something from it. Did it disappoint? Yes. Did it have its bright, brilliant bits? Yes, there too.

Trouble is, I need three things to say that I like a book. One, the writing. Two, the plot. Three, the characters. Shatter Me got One and Three right. That's right: I didn't really like the plot. But let's go in the order I like it.

First of, the writing. Mafi has a very poetic style, words stumbling over each other in some places as Juliette's thoughts stumble over each other, beautiful metaphors rising out of the ashes of usual dystopian choppiness. Some of the Shatter Me metaphors are going to stay in my mind for a long time. The strikethrough thing is brilliant- it reminds me of my diary when I'm in a bad mood. I write like a madwoman whenever something pisses me off, or excites me beyond critical level, and I tend to strike off and rewrite and it's all very emotional. I got that vibe from Mafi's writing. I felt for Juliette: her pain, her isolation, her confusion. Juliette's thoughts pour out through her writing in the notebook, so the description part of it is understandable.

Secondly, the characters. As I said, Juliette is a good female lead. She has a strange power that she can't control- well, unless she puts herself in a full-body leotard or something- and that makes her starved of touch. Which is a really, really bad thing. I agree. Plus, she's been locked up in a cell, forced to share with a gorgeous cellmate (for, like a few pages, but whatever) forced to torture someone and has already killed someone else with her powers. Makes sense that she's broken. But I can also see that she has strength: it's not an in-your-face thing like in Divergent, but more subtle, better told. Adam, the hero, is a perfect YA lead: gorgeous, moody, has an abused past, and is pretty good with tanks and guns and stuff, except that he does get his ass kicked more than Juliette does in this book. (She rescues him. Hah. I'm happy with that.) Warner is the strangest, and scariest villain I've seen in recent dystopian books, scarier because he's so young, and so good-looking. And because he actually likes Juliette. Do I feel sorry for him? Yes, I do. Surprising, really, but maybe not that much. I expect Daddy Warner will be the real villain. There's a pattern to these YA books, which I hope Shatter Me doesn't follow, but I've a feeling it will.

Thirdly, the plot. This is pretty vague for a first book: there's not much world-building, except that there seems to be no birds or animals. There is new technology, I suppose, or maybe the re-establishment got rid of it, I'm not sure. There is an X-men like group at the end of the book that seems out of place for some reason, although I was expecting it. That is the problem I had with this book I guess: I was never blind-sided, I could see every twist coming. Warner and Adam's peculiar gift regarding Juliette: I saw it coming. The Professor X kinda guy and his mutant group: saw it coming. The romance part was obvious. Totally, there was nothing ORIGINAL about the plot. A polluted world, a Nazi kinda organization, throw in the X-men, strike a few bits out.

But that's not to say I didn't enjoy Shatter Me. I did, because I really loved the writing, Juliette's voice, the romance, the villainy. In fact, I think I like Mafi as a writer more than Shatter Me as a book. I'll read the next one in the series, but I won't say I have much expectations in the story-factor of it. The next Hunger Games is not here, yet. I still worship Katniss. Sigh.



BUT, despite my not-liking the book, I do like the author's blog a LOT. Check it out: http://www.stiryourtea.blogspot.com/
Power to the Blogosphere!  Peace out.

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed Shatter Me when I read it. But I’d have to agree with you on some points. The plot (or lack of) let it down, and the ending make me feel like I’d missed out on something. Although for the most part, I’m willing to let some of it slide because of how much I enjoyed reading Shatter Me. I loved Tahereh’s writing style! I’m just hoping that book two brings a little more to the table!

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    1. Yes, the writing is pretty awesome, isn't it? Let book two come, I'm definitely gonna read it! Thanks for commenting :)

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  2. Fantastic review Varsha. Shatter Me I might just get. It's interesting to note the author makes you want to be part of knowing more about her through her writing style.

    The Hunger Games sadly haven't seen in many novels coming out.

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  3. Sorta sad when you think about it, isn't it? Maybe dystopian novels should try not to be very Hunger Games-y to succeed.

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  4. Hi, Varsha1 Thanks for commenting on my review of "Daugher of Smoke and Bone"!

    As for your review of "Shatter Me", it's absolutely terrific!! You really analyze the book's elements in depth, which is something I very much enjoy in a book review. Yet, you don't give the plot away (although, according to your view of it, there's not much of a plot, eh?). Lol.

    As you know, there's a lot of hype surrounding this book. From what you say, it's not all that good. Hm. I do want to read it, though, because the things you've pointed out have really piqued my curiosity!

    Thanks for such a GREAT review!!

    Oh, and by the way, KUDOS on your blog's new look!!! LOVE it!!!!! Keep up the excellent work!!! : )

    Maria @ http://anightsdreamofbooks.blogspot.com/

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  5. Thanks for the comment, Maria. Shatter Me was seriously good in the writing department but lost steam for me. Hope you'll enjoy it more than I did! :)

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