Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
November 15, 2011; Harper/HarperCollins


Summary

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. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

I hate licorice. I've always hated it. But every once in awhile I eat a piece of licorice just to see if I still dislike it. And I do. My relationship with dystopia is the same. A unique concept ropes me in, but the dystopian theme is almost always a turn-off.

I am certainly not alone in my mixed feelings about Shatter Me. I've read drool-ridden, slap-happy love reviews as well as reviews where the readers gagged on the book like it was rotten meat. I'm somewhere in the middle.

Mafi's writing is one of the most controversial parts of the books, particularly the strike-throughs. I loved the writing. It was by far the best part of the book for me. The strike throughs and the plethora of metaphors made the story one of pure emotion. I felt the book rather than read it. Every heartache stabbed me in the chest, Adam's kisses were butterflies in my chest, etc. Was it a bit over the top? Yes. But it was different and worked well with Juliette's overly emotional mind state.

As for the plot...meh. It's not that it was bad, it just wasn't for me. I love the idea of a girl who can kill a person simply by touching them. Seeing how Juliette was abused and then used by all around her was both fascinating and depressing. Despite the unique paranormal twist, on a grand scheme, Shatter Me still felt like a story I'd read before. That and it was very, very dark.

I was disappointed by the world building in Shatter Me - or the lack thereof. Society is ruled by the re-establishment, but we don't learn much about it. You can certainly have a strong plot without a developed world, but it's like looking at a two dimensional map instead of a three dimensional globe.

I both liked and didn't like the characters. Juliette exuded self-hatred from every poor. I got tired of that. Given her life experience, it was understandable; in fact, I would be skeptical if she was any other way. However, there's only so much self-directed vitriol that I can ingest at a time. It was made even worse by the emotive writing, which made Juliette's emotions leap off the page.

The romance between Adam and Juliette was definitely hot. It wasn't insta-love, because the characters knew each other for a long time. But it felt insta-love, because they moved to lovey dovey, showery kissy in the blink of an eye. Not that I minded the romantic scenes. They were some of the most visceral, intimate scenes that I've read in awhile. Still, something was missing.

The nail in Juliette's wheel is Warner, her captor. He's evil. Shoot you in the face and walk away smiling sadistic. Yet an intriguing kind of evil. There are hints of a real person behind the cruelty. I wish we'd spent more time with Warner. Not for Juliette's sake, but for mine. I believe the next book in the series focuses more on Warner. I'm excited for it for that reason.

My main problem with Shatter Me was that I was bored. I don't know if that was because I don't like dystopias or because it was just dull. Regardless, I had trouble focusing on the book and often felt like I was forcing myself to get through it. The last quarter of the novel was a major change, which was actually my favorite part of the book. I wish it had come earlier.

I recommend reading Shatter Me for the unique writing style. The rest of the book is just okay. If you like dystopia, you very well may love it. And it's hard to beat the hot romance.

Rating: 3 / 5

24 comments:

  1. OoOo You posted the new cover, which I adore so much more than the old one!!! I'm a little sad you didn't like it more. I ADORED it. I listened to the audio and the narrator did such an incredible and awesome job in trasnporting the emotions of this book! I loved the writing, it's unique and definitely different bur I found myself being drawn to this emotional tale!

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  2. I loved the writing style and the strike throughs. It made it unique and it did work well with Juliette's personality and conveying her feelings. I liked Adam and their scenes were hot. If no one could touch me and then someone I wanted could things would get pretty hot fast lol Warner was intriguing. I hope to learn more about him in the next book. He was kind of hot in a sadistic way. Glad you still did enjoy it even if you didn't love it.

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  3. It's a pity you didn't like this book as much as others did. As for me, I LOVED this book so I guess there's a 50/50 chance thing for readers liking it. Anyway honest review.

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  4. Great review. Your honesty is refreshing. I actually like dystopian--it's what I write as well--so I'll probably like this. Despite not liking it, you give a good overall impression of what the book is like, so thank you! :D

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  5. nodding my head in agree ment with world building and totally with reading the story. Agree with you about Warner and more of him. I was meh too with this book and I didn't see the hot scenes with adam and Juliette. Must be me LOL

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  6. I've seen so many mixed reviews that I haven't dared to pick up this book yet. I'm still not sure. Maybe I'll pick it up when I have time. Thanks for the honest review!

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  7. Thanks for giving an honest review. I'll have to check this out sometime. The storyline intrigues me.

    Caaleros

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  8. This was definitely one of my faves of last year--I liked the darkness and the writing with the strikethroughs was so cool and unusual but pulled me completely into the story. But I do agree about the world-building and Warner. I wanted to know more, to go deeper. Maybe the next book will answer some of those questions. Great review--I like how you gave concrete examples of what did/didn't work for you rather than just a "I didn't like it" (read too many of those on other blogs!).

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  9. Awwwww sorry this one just wasn't for you Alison! Clearly the dystopian genre as a whole is just not something that works for you, I'm usually that way with science fiction and fantasy though every once in a while one just blows me away:) I thought the writing in this story was stunning just as you said, and agree on the world building. I'm hoping we get a lot more of that in book 2. Also, the new cover I think is STUNNING. I'm in love with it:)

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  10. Thanks for the review!

    I have to agree, for the most part. I'm not a big Dystopian fan, either, and this one really just didn't sit well with me. The lack of world-building was sad, and I also, like you, didn't like the main character after a while.

    My biggest problem with it, however, was the fact that the main character had spent all her life not wanting to be touched, and then she re-meets Adam (who did feel like insta-love), and then, suddenly, she wants to be touched again. Psychologically, that just doesn't make sense, and that really ruined the story for me.

    Alexandra~

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  11. Woah! Cool new cover! And, I agree with your thoughts about Shatter Me. I felt like something was lacking while reading it. But, I do love dystopian, too bad you don't like it. Great, honest review!

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  12. i loved the writing
    the plot was meh at times 4 me aswell
    but still exited for book2
    gr8 review alison

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  13. Ahhhh! So jealous that you got to read this book. I just scanned your review but I am dying to read this book. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  14. Ahh that's such a shame that this was an average book cause I love that cover! It is enchanted me with its wile ways x

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  15. I'm the exact opposite. I like dystopians a lot so this was a good read for me. I think one of the biggest complaints about this book is the lack of world building. I hope Mafi builds on it in the next books.

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  16. Hrm...I can see why this was disappointing to you. It really doesn't offer anything different from what's out there. I think I'll hold off until the second book comes out.

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  17. I love Mafi's writing style, BUT HOW COULD YOU BE BORED? I'm surprised, but if you're not a big fan of dystopias... I guess, it's conceivable. Personally, I thought it was pretty big on the action and shizz. Hopefully, you enjoy later books more instead.

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  18. I hardly ever like the villain but I really liked Warner in this book-I found him charismatic and just popping off the page. I did not know how much of a presence he would be in the sequel but if he's going to play a BIG role then I'll be interested. I also did not think much of the romance which did feel like instalove nor did it feel very romantic to me.

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  19. Thank you for this well balanced review - I feel like I got both sides of the like/dislike aspects. It's always interesting when I hear about people that dislike dystopians because I've always personally found them to be enthralling - when done right. So I think there's a chance that I would like this more than you did. The only thing holding me back is the lack of world building because that is always my favourite part of all dystopians - again, when done right. So if the world building is missing, then what's the point? Then again, I'm a sucker for unique and beautiful writing. Argh, sorry for this convoluted and conflicted comment! I'll have to think on this one a bit more before making any serious decision to read it, I think. Again though: your review was very helpful, thanks!

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  20. So a metaphoric book inspires a metaphoric review? LOVE IT! LOL

    I'm probably skip this one, but I certainly have a better understanding of it now. Just doesn't seem like it's for me.

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  21. The cover first drew me to this book. I know you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but ah well. I probably will give it a whirl as the premise sounds interesting. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with dystopian. Thanks for the review.

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  22. I'm sorry you didn't love this book as much as I did. It was one of my favorites of the year, and I normally don't like dystopians because of the extensive world-building. I get bored with too many descriptions. I also liked the X-Men feel and the revolutionary ideas behind it. *Shrugs* I hope you give the next one a try and like it more! Great review! :D

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  23. I hear you on the world building. I liked it but it didn't totally shock me.

    What made this book so amazing for me was Warner. I never take to villains but I was so intrigued by him. There definitely was something there and the writing in this book was so poetic. I usually don't like that but I liked it in this book.

    Great review :)

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