Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi- Review

There has been much raving, and large scale anticipation for Shatter Me on the interwebs these many months.  It was a much sought after ARC at the BEA that I only ended up getting because of the speed dating with children and YA authors.  Tahereh was one of the many authors doing their 5 minute spiels about their books and she was one I notably remembered because she made sure to mention there was a "steamy shower scene" in her extremely brief time at our table.  I have to say that put me off a little, I mean you have 5 minutes to sell me on the merits of your story and the best you can do is that there's a "steamy shower" scene?  So despite it sitting on my shelf while oodles of reviewers clamoured about how they were dying to read it, I held off thinking it wasn't likely going to be my cup of tea.

Sadly I know my reading habits very well, and Shatter Me did not hold any exciting surprises for me.

From Goodreads:
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.

One of the primary things I disliked about this story was how it was written.  Riddled with a repeating structure, strike through sentences and a strange type of prose that seems to be trying for poetic but merely comes off as nonsense, Shatter Me was definitely aiming for a unique voice for it's broken main character Juliette.  In the end it all seemed as if it was trying to hard to  *BE* something instead of actually just telling a story.  Some of it was such nonsense that it actually completely lost me, I mean what does this mean??

"Someone picked up the sun and pinned it to the sky again, but every day it hangs a little lower than the day before.  It's like a negligent parent who only knows one half of who you are.  It never sees how its absence changes people.  How different we are in the dark."

"I catch the rose petals as they fall from my cheeks, as they float around the frame of my body, as they cover me in something that feels like the absence of courage."

"My eyes break open.  Two shattered windows filling my mouth with glass.
"What is it?"  His voice is a failed attempt at flatness, an anxious attempt at apathy.
I focus on the transparent square wedged between me and my freedom.  I want to smash this concrete world into oblivion. I want to be bigger, better, stronger.
I want to be angry-angry-angry-.
I want to be the bird that flies away .
"What are you writing?" Cellmate speaks again.
These words are vomit.
This shaky pen is my esophagus.
This sheet of paper is my porcelain bowl."

My next biggest issue with the story was how the first three quarters of it just seemed like excuse making to arrange for Juliette and Adam to have random, steamy almost-sex scenes.  I didn't feel like I was learning anything much about the characters, the dystopian universe or the general direction of the story outside of how these two couldn't keep their hands off each other.  And I found Juliette's complete lack of shyness when it came to her grope-a-thons with Adam, at complete odds with her original broken, can barely speak or cope with someone else in her room with her persona.  What changed? Because whatever it was I didn't read it anywhere.

Then there was the whole drop dead gorgeous thing.  Seriously, what a tired old bit of direction for a story.  The shameless and blatant way every guy who sees her carries on about how smokin' sexy she is, isn't even used as a derogatory thing, instead it's used as some sort of perk to her personality.  As if I, as a reader, need her to be spectacularly good looking to like her.  As a girl, I have to say it would have been more interesting to me if she was plain or average and considered gorgeous by the evil character because of her dangerous abilities, and ugly by those who are scared of her.  That would have been story telling.

Overall the harshest bit of criticism I have for this story is for the actual story telling itself or lack thereof.  It goes NOWHERE until the very end.  Seriously, this was meandering conversations and vacant insight at best prior to page 220, and this book is only 342 pages long.  I can forgive build up, character building or development in the first 100-150 pages of a book if it's leading somewhere good and is well done (IE I'm interested in the development and characters) however 220 pages of it equals absolute boredom especially when after 220 pages of it I still don't care about these characters.  Perhaps all the almost-sex- scenes were supposed to distract me?  They didn't, and by the time Juliette, Adam, James and Kenji are at a rebellion camp and learning stuff that might have been interesting to the story if it had came 100 pages earlier, I was well and truly over this book.  Which is saying something because I was on potential jury duty and being held hostage in a big barren room for many hours a day, I was asking little of my entertainment to say the least.

This is Tahereh Mafi's debut novel, so it stands to reason that Shatter Me was her growing pains and book two of the series will be much better.  But I certainly won't be rushing out to buy it.  All the same, Shatter Me is getting rave reviews around the blogesphere, so if you were a lover of Hush Hush,  Angel Burn, or Starcrossed (all famously loathed by me) then make sure to take my review with a huge grain of salt and google the 500 000 other favourable reviews before you make up your mind!

Shatter Me, By Tahereh Mafi
Published by HarperTeen, November 15th 2011
Buy Shatter Me on Amazon


  1. I'm kind of sad you disliking this book... I totally love Shatter Me to be honest. It has been an awesome read for me, I don't really mind the writing structure. It's the first time reading a book that was written this way so I find it very unique.

    Jay @ We Fancy Books

  2. for me shatter me blew my mind, i specifically fell in love with her writing! i loved exactly what you hated when it came to her writing. I agree with Jay, i found this book so unique and just gripping, it was a work of art really.

    - juhina

  3. Ahh, you know you've posted against the grain when there are two comments prior to 8am on a Sunday morning!! haha

    I'm glad you guys like it, as I said, I'm definitely in the minority on the interwebs for disliking it. Though those who have REALLY disliked it.

    Throw me a rope here, what in heavens name do thoses silly bits of prose mean??!

  4. I haven't read Shatter Me yet, though I really want to. This is the first negative review I've seen. I'll have to check it out and see for myself! (:

  5. LOL love the review and yeah... as I hated the only one of the three you mentioned that I've read, I'll avoid this one too. I think I may end up throwing it and we don't like doing that :)

  6. Yah, I may have thrown it if it weren't for the 250 other people sitting in the room with me. As it was I kept hoping nobody was reading over my shoulder since it would be embarrassing to realize someone thought I liked the drivel.

  7. Hi! I know this is a long shot, but if you still have that coverless/white ARC of Shatter Me that you got from BEA, would you be willing to trade? I would also be willing to trade/purchase multiples! I've been a huge fan of Tahereh Mafi and I would love to add that ARC to my collection; I've been looking for that ARC forever! If you still have it, please let me know at my email arcticbookss(at) or Twitter @arcticbookss. Thank you so much!!