Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.

 

My Rating:  2 cupcakes

 

At first, Mafi’s writing style is quite interesting: beautifully written prose filled with metaphors and vivid imagery, and the interesting decision to use strikethroughs to simulate the writing in Juliette’s journal. However, after combining that with grammatically awkward numbering and repetition of the same words over and over and over, it becomes somewhat painful to read. There were even some metaphors that made such little sense that they completely disrupted the flow of the story and left me staring at them saying, “um, what?”

“He shifts and my eyes shatter into thousands of pieces that ricochet around the room, capturing a million snapshots, a million moments in time.”

“I hate the lackadaisical ennui of a sun too preoccupied with itself to notice the infinite hours we spend in its presence.”

“So many people had to lose their homes and their children and their last 5 dollars in the bank for promises promises promises so many promises to save them from themselves.”

“Warner thinks Adam is a cardboard cutout of vanilla regurgitations.”

“Hate looks like everybody else until it smiles. Until it spins around and lies with lips and teeth carved into semblance of something too passive to punch.”

I could probably keep up a steady stream of quotes for quite a while since there are about ten of these on each page, but I think I’ve made my point. There’s certainly nothing wrong with flowery prose if used sparingly, but it becomes distracting and tedious when employed in excess.

Once you get used to Mafi’s writing style, the story itself is decent. I wouldn’t classify it as a dystopia though; sure, something went wrong and there’s limited food and problems with the seasons that the Reestablishment is trying to fix, but that seems to take the backseat to the romantic aspects of the plot. And, oh, was there romance. Within the first seventy pages, Juliette is in love with Adam – but don’t worry, it’s not instalove because they’ve had feelings for each other since childhood, even though they had never spoken two words to each other until now. Isn’t that convenient? Needless to say, I never really bought the history between them, and found myself rolling my eyes every time they confessed their love for one another or started making out at the most inopportune times.

Of all of the characters, Warner was the only one with depth; he was simultaneously repulsive and compelling, making him a rather intriguing villain. Adam and Juliette were both really bland and fit nicely into their cookie-cutter roles of “hero” and “damsel in distress.” It wasn’t until the last ~80 pages that Juliette finally did something useful, but by then I had been exposed to enough of her naivety and self-loathing that it was too late to change my opinion.

The ending of Shatter Me was by far my favourite part of the story (and no, it’s not only because it was finally over). The action started to pick up, and we were treated to an institution that was very similar to Charles Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters. While it kind of came out of nowhere, it was a nice change from the incessant romance that passed as a plot.

Overall, Shatter Me was a disappointing read. If the sequel is written in the same vein as the ending, I’ll consider giving it a try.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

  1. Pingback: Top Ten of the Most Unique Books I’ve Read | The In-Between Place

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