Young Adult

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me


I should be ashamed of myself.  Not only did I read the (bad) reviews before reading the book, I read reviews AFTER reading the book and have (almost) nothing original to say about it!  In fact, I AM ashamed of myself, but I wanted to write about it anyway.

By the way, I read this back in January, and wrote the first draft of this review way back then.

Brief summary of the book can be found on Good Reads.  I will copy and paste the first paragraph:

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 review is kind of spoiler-ish…

I can confirm that the criticisms of this book are indeed accurate.  Among the criticism I read are as follows:

1.  Terrible purple prose with awkward and ridiculous metaphors.  This novel is absolutely LOADED with them.

2.  The strikethrough concept was interesting at first, but then I noticed the author started using the strikethroughs in actual dialog.  I was confused – was Juliette really saying that or was she mumbling it or did she think it?  I have NO idea.  And others have said that with using the strikethrough basically amounted to the author TELLING us what was happening and not SHOWING us, which is really bad considering the fact that this novel was written in the first person.

3.  Too much romance and not enough about the society they live in.  I wanted to know more about how the Reestablishment came to be and how the outsiders lived and managed to avoid the authorities for so long.  I wanted to know more about that radiation zone and most importantly I wanted to know where Juliette’s ability came from and whether or not it was something she could eventually learn to control, yet the novel ENDS when we get to the part where any info on her ability (and the abilities of others) could be given.

4.  A lot of people make hay about Bella Swan from Twilight being such a weak, dependent heroine.  Juliette Ferrars is even WORSE because Bella didn’t have the lethal touch ability that Juliette had.  Juliette was so obsessed with being the good person and not touching anyone that she couldn’t even do herself a freaking favor (and by extension everyone else a favor) by touching the villain, Warner, when he asked her to.  Of course, it turns out that touching Warner wouldn’t have done much, because along with Adam – the token love interest/knight on a white horse – he is immune to her deadly touch.

5.  Why is it that Warner and Adam are the only people unaffected by her touch?  I have some theories about that – well, one theory – but I won’t bother for now, because I don’t think the author would be that deep about it.  I know that’s a bitchy thing to say, but can you blame me?  This book was soft core porn for bored teenagers (to paraphrase an excellent quote from the Meryl Streep/Roseanne Barr movie She-Devil).  The only scenes that were interesting to me was the one where Warner traps Juliette and a blindfolded child in a dungeon with retractable spikes.  Juliette was scantily clad and had to make a choice – hold the child in her hands and subject the child to her lethal touch or watch the child get skewered on a spike.  That one had me on the edge of my seat (so to speak).  The other interesting scenes were near the end, where Adam and Juliette are caught by Warner.  The rest is Warner going on and on about Juliette’s ability and how she’s a monster like him, Juliette angsting over her ability and how she’s NOT a monster and Juliette and Adam making out in the shower, on the bed, and wherever else.

I am a political junkie and of course, I was reading this to see if there were any stupid swipes at conservatives, and I don’t think there are any.  I would have to consult the bookmarks and check, though.  Regarding the Reestablishment, it seems that the authorities own everything and control the production of goods and foods and it is even revealed that the authorities are hoarding food while forcing everyone else to eat crappy synthetic food that has to be prepared in a special microwave.  All of the houses are drab and look the same.  Sounds kind of like East Germany or something – it kept reminding me of Sektion 20, a book that is set in East Germany and one I highly recommend.

Okay, tinfoil hat time – I wonder if the author was told to deliberately downplay the Reestablishment and offer little world building so as to not have readers thinking a society controlled by the government is bad.  I mean, because even with the little world building there is, it’s pretty damning of the kind of government control SOME people would like to impose on the American people.  What would you rather have – corporations buying food and what not from farmers and selling it in grocery stores, or do you want the government to control what is grown, how much of it is grown and what is distributed to the populace?  Because in this novel, the latter is reality for those living in the Reestablishment.

I also hate to do this, but I would recommend J.L Bryan’s Jenny Pox over this crap.  I would not recommend this book or Jenny Pox to anyone under 16 but even Jenny Pox is better than this soppy romance dressed up as a paranormal dystopian novel because even J.L. Bryan handled a similar concept much better.  Yes, I was thinking “oh god, it’s Jenny Pox all over again – except in a dystopian world!”  And it is.

This is obviously going to be a series or a trilogy at least, so that’s why it ends the way it does.  The end was also really cheesy with that silly superhero outfit. If one is going to war, it helps to be dressed appropriately, so I can’t complain about that too much, but honestly – why not just wear a military uniform?

So I would not really recommend this book, unless you’re like me, who likes to read bad books just for the lulz.

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