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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Review

3/5 Stars
Details of the Book
ebook, 357 pages
Published by HarperCollins
Published on November 15, 2011
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository |

Juliette was born with a gift that prevented her from having physical contact with anyone in her life. Whenever someone touches her skin, she literally sucks the life out of them. Her family and government locks her in an insane asylum to protect the world from her gift. After spending three years in lock up, she gets a new cellmate, Adam, a boy who she has loved since the third grade, who has been spent to spy on her by The Reestablishment's leader's son, Warner. Fascinated by her power, Warner takes Juliette into his home in order to win her heart and to also use her as a weapon against anyone who tries to rebel against him or The Reestablishment's reign. Torn between what Warner wants from her, and Adam, Juliette embarks on a journey to discover if she is nothing more than a hated weapon of society or if she could be something more.

This book has me so conflicted, I have a lot of problems with it, but at the same time I love it. I love the character's and their relationships with each other but I have a few pet peeves and issues with this book that really stops me from falling in love with it. Shatter Me is another book with a dystopia premise, a very popular theme in young adult books today, but without a well defined structure. In general it reminds me of X-Men, in the sense that Juliette's power is exactly the same as Rouge, and there is an underground society with other people with special abilities, who all have special suits designed for them to wear. On top of it all, the leader if this underground group sounds just like Charles Xaiver except he's not confined to a wheelchair.


All of the main characters are very well rounded with strong character development as the novel goes on. There is an explanation for every behavior, action, etc. Tahereh Mafi really makes sure that you know and understand each character very well.

2) Adam and Juliette's relationship is really well defined. Although it's not explained in the very beginning as to how they know each other, through flashbacks and explanations you really see how close these two are and why they love each other. Their chemistry just oozes out all over the place.

3) Mafi creates great dialogue, it flows easily and sounds very natural. It also provides great insight to the characters' personalities.


Writing Style:
          a. I have a love/hate relationship with the writing style in this novel. It's written from Juliette's point-of-view, and it's very well crafted in the sense you can see fully into Juliette's mind without any sensors. The reader is able to see Juliette's exact thought process and how each situation she's in directly affects her. It's written as if you're reading Juliette's private journal, meaning that you get a good sense of how Juliette's mind works, but at the same time it's very distracting. There is not a lot of punctuation, which makes certain scenes unclear and just makes it look poorly edited, even though I know it's intentional. I assume the idea is to show that how scatter brained Juliette is after being hated, tortured, and locked-up but I cannot condone anything that degrades the English language further. There are enough people who are not properly educated in grammar rules, but to deliberately break them, and become popular for it just makes that okay when it's not. Thankfully, this problem becomes less after Juliette is out of the asylum.

          b. The way that Mafi has repeats specific words and phrases three times in one sentence with no commas is pretty prevalent in this novel. I understand that the repetition is supposed to emphasize the emotion but it just seems melodramatic since it's used over and over again.

              Here are a few examples of Mafi's repeating words or phrases with the lack of punctuation (I don't have pages numbers for these quotes because I bought this as an ebook):

             "His voice is soft so soft so soft." 

             "I'm tempted by recklessness, aching aching aching, desperate forever for what I can't have"

             "His heat melts the icicles propping me up from the inside out and I thaw I thaw I thaw"

            c. In addition to there not being a lot of punctuation, there are a lot of phrases scratched out. This is a tool that is used to see the difference between what Juliette is thinking and what she actually says. It's not a technique I have seen before, and part of me finds it really interesting and endearing and the other part of me is really annoyed by it.

            d. This is not a big deal but it bothers me how none of the numbers are written out. I get that the style is meant to be informal but it throws me off.

            e. There were a bunch of phrases that were confusing; metaphors that didn't make sense, and contradictory phrase. Here are a few of them:

"I'm dripping red paint on the carpet"

"I'd like to cry into his eyes"

"He says it with a small smile the size of Jupiter"

"His chest is a broken harmonica"

"Warner thinks Adam is a cardboard cutout of vanilla regurgitations"

2) As I said in my opening statement, I feel that this book reminds me too much of X-Men with how Juliette's and Rouge's powers are the same, and how they have special "uniforms" that make them look like super heroes, and that the underground rebellion sounds almost exactly like Professor Xaiver's School for the gifted Youngsters.

My favorite quotes and moments from the novel:

"Sometimes I think the loneliness inside me is going to explode through my skin and sometimes I'm not sure if crying or screaming or laughing through the hysteria will solve anything at all. Sometimes I'm so desperate to touch to be touched to feel that I'm almost certain I'm going to fall off a cliff in an alternate universe where no one will ever be able to find me"

"I've been screaming for years and no one has heard me"

"Truth is a jealous, vicious mistress that never sleeps"

"They think they can wash away my memories, my loyalties, my priorities with a few hot meals and a room with a view. They think I am so easily purchased."

"I didn't want to be draped in silk. All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart"

"I spent my life folded between pages of books. In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction."

"He never pushed me to say a word. He just made sure he was close enough to scare away everyone else."

"He strokes my hair and tells me stories and tuck me close like he's afraid I'll disappear. He paints pictures of people and places until I fall asleep, until I'm drowning in a drug of dreams to escape a world with no refuge, no relief, no release but his reassurances in my ear."

"'She belongs with me.' Adam's voice could cut through steel."

Coming Soon: Reviews of Mafi's novella Destroy Me, as well as the second installment of the Shatter Me trilogy, Unravel Me.