Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Number of Pages: 338
My Rating: 3/5
Released: November 15, 2011
I have a gift
I'm more than human
My touch is power
I will fight back
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.
I've actually read Shatter Me a number of times, but never got around to reviewing it. I reread the entire trilogy recently, so I figured to review all three over the next three weeks.
Shatter Me has both strong and weak points. One strong point is its own self-awareness. The heroine, Juliette, is - in a word - unstable. Her thoughts read off like rambling, similar to the way words are struck out in the summary. Now, when I say the book has self-awareness, I mean that Juliette is very much a Mary Sue, but the book doesn't deny this. She knows she's ridiculous at points and has an understanding that her thought process is wrong. I do like that about Juliette's character, other flaws aside.
The strikeouts are an abundant stylistic choice in the book, one that I found irksome at first but came to admire. It's a rather neat way to see what she's thinking while denying those thoughts. They do become weak points at times due to the writing. If you want a book that DEFINES "purple prose," this is your book. Sooo much purple prose. Regardless, the writing remains interesting enough. I do think that the writing will be a hit-or-miss with a lot of readers, however, so it's best to get this from a library this before buying it.
Another strong point goes to plot pace. Nothing is too rushed and nothing is too slow. Everything happens when it feels like it should; nothing feels forced. While I'm at it, I'll also give a strong point to description. The descriptions alone make this world seem believable and immersive.
Two weak points go to characterization and world building.
-Just because the book is aware that Juliette is a Mary Sue doesn't make it okay. She spends most of the book whining, crying, and drooling over the boys. ...All the boys. Her main love interest (it isn't even love, this is lust), and...the villain?! Yeah. Even this villain, who's maaaaybe the most developed of all the characters, is one of the smexiest people in the book, and therefore it's okay she drools over him. Because he's bee-a-you-tee-ful.
-The world building could have worked so much better. Here's what we know: The Reestablishment claimed they could fix the world and went back on that and everything went to hell. Oh, and it's ruled by this faceless dude. ...That's the only backstory we get. It's a very "Big Bad" cop out. Somehow the world got so polluted that everything's wrong and people are suffering. How? Why? Humanity never got their act together? The [Shatter Me] world may never know.
Now for the plot itself:
I liked it. From a lot of reviews I've seen, people found it tired or convenient or annoying. I can see where all these people come from. For example, like I've mentioned, the writing can be agitating. I honestly didn't notice some of the more awkward metaphors within the prose, mostly because this book is a very fast read. The plot kept me moving.
The idea of this girl with a lethal touch being recruited against her will by a man who wants to use her power as a weapon enticed me. The coincidence that one of her 'guards' was a childhood friend was convenient, but I didn't mind it. I enjoyed the trials Juliette had to face with Warner (the antagonist) and her thoughts trying to develop from cornered-Mary-Sue to something more. The twist at the end regarding Juliette's power remains one of my favorite parts.
Shatter Me, despite its claims, contains very little action. About the most involved action scene occurs after a low-key attempted rape. One bullet and it's over. This book is mainly about the emotions and the romance with some paranormal add-ins and a lot of mental abuse on the antagonist's part.
Judging by this review, it doesn't seem like I liked it as much as I did. It is true that I recommend getting it from a library before deciding to buy it. I got it for $3 as a clearance deal. I enjoyed the strikeout stylistic choice, the pacing - the stuff I listed above. The book is problematic, relies heavily on love-at-first-sight ("It's the bird from my dream so we are MEANT to be!!"), and there is a lot of whining. I...just happened to enjoy reading it. For some reason.
...I do wish I hadn't bought the two sequels at full price though. More to come on that next week. Have a good weekend, everyone!