Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi
Published: November 15, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia
I’m pretty late to read this book, seeing as it was one of the big releases of 2011, combined with all the amazing things I’ve heard about it. Unfortunately, for me, Shatter Me was a bit of a disappointment.
For once in my life I took notes while reading, so I can actually pinpoint exactly what I didn’t like about this book. That being said – I didn’t hate this book. Far from it, actually. I’m still giving it 3.5 stars because even though I found many flaws in the book, I have to admit that the story did capture me, and I didn’t wanted to put this book down. It was fast paced, with lots of action, and I’m pretty eager to read the next book. But… if this book hadn’t been fast paced, I think I probably would have DNF’d it simply because I was unhappy with most of the characters and plot.
Let’s talk about Juliette, our main character. In the beginning of the book, she’s pretty damn pathetic, but you can’t really blame her because of where she is, and what her circumstance is. Then she meets Adam, and when you see her try to do that thing called social interaction, it’s clear that she’s not just pathetic, she’s hopeless. Juliette, how are we, the reader, supposed to know your story if you just mumble things incoherently and repeat everything you hear/think/say? Honestly, the first few chapters could have been about a rock named Juliette for all I know. She was basically non-existent. Then finally as the story progresses, we see so many opportunities for Juliette to become a stronger character – but she doesn’t. Okay, so she finally starts talking, but other than that she was just so whiny. Yes, it must be awful to kill everyone you touch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look in a mirror! She literally won’t look at herself because she doesn’t want to see the monster that she is (and then plays the part of Extremely Stunned Girl when people tell her she’s pretty). Was this supposed to show how humble/broken Juliette is? Because it just irritated me.
After reading about Juliette, I’m reminded of Katniss. Not because they are alike, but because they’re exact opposites. I longed for a character as strong and kick-ass as Katniss when reading about Juliette. Yes, there is definitely something to be appreciated in a flawed, broken character, but for me, Juliette was just pathetic. For example, there’s a time when Juliette has basically just escaped with her life, and instead of forming a plan or just being thankful to be alive, she starts questioning whether the love interest actually likes her. It was just so trivial and unnecessary that I wanted to shake her. She actually says that she wants this love interest to say explicitly, and I quote, that “we’re together official, exclusively”. Like he hasn’t proven himself with all he’s gone through for you, Juliette? Actions speak more than words, but Juliette is sulking because between saving her life and making out with her, he never stopped to say they were “exclusive”. Are you kidding me?
I’d like to touch on the writing in Shatter Me, because it’s sort of unusual. It involves a lot of
strike throughs and numbers, and at first I thought this was an interesting style, but by the end I had grown tired of it. Some phrases, like, “He’s wrong he’s so wrong he’s more wrong than an upside-down rainbow,” seemed like they belonged on Tumblr rather than in a book. But there was also a kind of flow to her words that kept me reading, and sometimes I would read 50 pages without even realizing it because I just kept turning the pages.
A bit of a side note, but do you remember when A Reader of Fictions discovered the extreme prevalence of The Evil Sentence? Well, turns out they were right. There were two times in this book that Juliette either forgot to breathe or was involuntarily holding her breath. Yikes.
Lastly, I want to say that although it seems I have a lot of negative points for this book, I did not hate it. I really loved Adam’s character, and by the end of the book (although I wasn’t really happy with the ending – it was a bit too cliched and convenient for me) I could see that Juliette was finally moving past her sack of potatoes phase and actually becoming a person. I will read Unravel Me, because I think there’s potential for me to like it more than I liked this one, but if the things I’ve heard about Chapter 62 are true, then I will be very, very angry.
Mhm. Okay. Flip a coin. Heads – bird wins. Tails – it’s mine.