Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Release Date: November 15, 2011
(Thanks to ATWT for letting me participate in this tour!)
Published by: Harper Teen

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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.

Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (--) Juliette, the protagonist - Oh wow. I didn't like her. I get that she craves love and understanding and friends, but she whines so much. You'd think that after so many years, she might've become a bit more cynical or hardened to the world, but she stays the same girl who almost seems like a child in some regards.  After some pages, we get the point. If there was a tad less on it, I think it would've been okay. And then, she becomes the person who others rely on.  Her transformation from girl who only takes care of herself re: showers and food to someone who drives a car, doesn't freak out at the sight of blood, shoots a gun!, etc. was so unbelievable that I almost put the book down. There were no comments on how this happened, just sort of an acceptance as something she had to do... which is weird because she didn't have to accept being locked up or bullied by Warner, but she does... until someone else "rescues" her. Juliette was definitely the low point of this book for me.
2. (+) The world-building - I liked the hints of how the world seemed destroyed and how maybe it wasn't, maybe it was just another lie told by the Reesablishment. I can definitely see some society rising to power and hoarding all the supplies and the military holding the reigns... all in all, I definitely would've enjoyed knowing more about how the world came to be this way, but it was out of the scope of Juliette's perspective.... but maybe in later books, we'll find out more.
3. (+/-) The Romance - On one hand, it was written BEAUTIFULLY.  "His nose is touching my nose, his lips one breath away, his eyes devouring me already and I'm a puddle with no arms and no legs.... his frame built by bricks of desire. The taste of his words lingers on my lips... He breaks for air only to bury his lips in my neck, along my collarbone, up my chin and cheeks and I'm gasping for oxygen and he's destroying me with his hands and we're drenched in water and beauty and the exhilaration of a moment I never knew was possible."  On the other hand... I didn't believe in Adam and Juliette's love.  I find it hard to believe that Adam, who had only "seen" Juliette's goodness, fell in love with her after their few short encounters; it felt more like a schoolboy crush and they had had a few times together, desperate but not enough to convince me. It might have been okay if he had said he was falling for her, but given the content of their interactions from the beginning of the book to the middle, when he declares himself, I find it very, very hard to believe.
4. (+) Warner, the antagonist - Warner, on the other hand--holy shit, I want to see more of him.  He is one of the best written villains I've ever read. Dark and light, cynical and gah, he was a better romantic interest for me than Adam was--he was just so much more interesting!  He had PERSONALITY.  I want to know more about his past and how he became this way and why he fixated on Juliette.
5. (+) Side characters - James, Kenji, Castle--there are few side characters, but those who are there are wonderful additions.  James was absolutely adorable, and I look forward to seeing how these characters developed in the next books.
6. (--) Too Many Genres All at Once - Shatter Me has paranormal, dystopian, romance, and contemporary elements to it.  The "contemporary" aspect was Juliette's need for love and how her paranormal ability has separated her from the rest of the world (to me, that kind of character struggle is the type that defines contemporary: isolated and having one person change your entire perspective on the world)--think it might've been nice to look at that and the paranormal part in depth rather than adding in dystopian stuff too.  It just felt like the book rushed through all these elements, and that each one needed to be developed more thoroughly, like each one could have been its own book. And that didn't work for me.
7. (+) The Moral Dilemma - For what it's worth, I did like the moral dilemma of how Juliette enjoyed using her power, how it made her feel strong though she wouldn't enjoy harming someone else.  I don't like love triangles, but I do like how that was reflected in Warner and Adam.  I wish we could've seen more demonstrations of Juliette's power, but I guess we'll find out more in later books.
8. (+) The Writing - Even though I did not enjoy some parts of this book, the writing is so beautiful that when Tahereh Mafi writes something else, I will probably be looking into it, regardless of the genre.  Numbers, strike-outs, and vivid imagery define Juliette's perspective. What's funny is that I saw a couple of people complain about the strike-outs but there weren't that many.  Only in the beginning and I really, really enjoyed the imagery and even the numbers part--that made her time in the asylum seem more real.
9. (--) Pacing - This book goes by really slowly, and in some ways, that's good for savoring the writing, but in other ways, all I could think was, okay so when does she escape? A part of my problem with the pacing I think also has to do with the fact that little actually happens in the book. Along with the genre problem was the problem of it trying to be both a character and a plot book but never fully attaining or the other. And that, I think, was reflected in the pacing.
10. (--) The Cover - The model's expression seriously bothers me. And that floofy dress?  If they wanted to portray Juliette as overcoming her struggles or whatnot, they could have chosen the "superhero" suit she later wears.  But instead, I think this all looks a tad ridiculous in combination with each other--I mean the lighting and the dark and light sides are nice, but the rest does not match the book.

I think that a lot of my dislikes of this book also stem from the fact that it got so much hype. It was beautifully written, but in the end, I'm not sure it lived up to its praise.

1 comment:

  1. Well, you already know how I feel about this book.

    I've noticed recently that a lot of people have been saying, "Oh, well I wasn't sure about this part and this part and this part, but I'm sure we'll see more in the next books" and they're pretty important parts that are being not explained/left out. And it's like, well why aren't they in here? There is no reason why this book should be leaving so much out just to stuff more steamy scenes in, and writing off the missing descriptions with "Oh, they'll be in the next books."

    I guess, by the end of the book, I just didn't feel like anything had been accomplished. The climax felt like something that should have happened in the middle of the book, and the plot is being dragged out over the trilogy. (Which I really hope doesn't happen.)


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