Thursday, January 26, 2012

[Review] Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me {goodreads}
Authors: Tahereh Mafi
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/11/2011
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
RRP: $17.99
Source: For review (thanks to publisher!)
Precautions: Violence | Sexual Content | Profanity
Pages: 348
My Rating:
Satisfying Read

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.
My thoughts: 


At first my rating was a 5, then a 4. Now it's 3.5 and I'll tell you why. Taken at face value, if I go along with the ride, I could just say I really enjoyed Shatter Me. And I did. By the end.

If you're really into adventures that are heavily reliant on a romantic aspect, then you are going to love this. Mafi also tries extremely hard to be poetic and intricately detailed in her writing. Most of the time she succeeded. Other times it was grating and slowed the pacing right down. There will be examples.

These are my personal opinions and that's fine if you don't agree with me. Not everyone will. I liked the premise, but I felt that the execution never completely lived up to it, or the expectations I'd formed for it.

~ Final thoughts ~

Shatter Me is: a whirlwind adventure; an extraordinary battle fought between the good and the bad, the powerful and the weak, the damaged and even more damaged; an intensely written romance that will live up to any supernatural fan's expectations. Tahereh Mafi has written a strong debut novel that blends together action, romance and suspenseful drama that will surprise readers.
"I've been locked up for 264 days.
I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company. 1 window. 4 walls. 144 square feet of space. 26 letters in an alphabet I haven't spoken in 264 days of isolation.
6,336 hours since I've touched another human being. (p. 1)

** This must be the most difficult book I've ever had to review before, so bear with me if it's just all over the place and confusing. I wanted to reread the book so that I could make proper notes this time around, but I'm just not the note-taking kind of blogger.

Shatter Me is a strong debut that nicely captures the creepy, the sexy, the actiony and the freaky. If you're looking for a YA book that has X-men resonances, this one's worth the read. When I finished reading 'Shatter Me', I was ready to give it a 5 star rating, but the truth of it is . . . well, those feelings of awe were temporary. (In that I'm not raving about it now, but I appreciate with Mafi has done with her book.)

At the beginning, especially, Juliette's voice is harrowing to the point where you feel as though you are being suffocated in a jail cell with her. She passes the time with numbers, and also her thought processes are vividly imagined.

"I always wonder about raindrops.
I wonder about how they're always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes tumble out of the sky toward an uncertain end. It's like someone as they is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn't seem to care where the contents fall, doesn't seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the drops dare to tap on their doors.
I am a raindrop. (p. 5)
It can seem a little overdone, but I highly praise Mafi's lyrical prose; there's a level of sophistication in the writing that few YA books attain. It's a bold move, that's for sure. She also incorporates striked-out text that is an acquired taste, and it took a while for me to get used to it.

Now, getting to the big part of the book that I just couldn't love was the romance between Juliette and Adam. It felt too excessive at parts and grated on my nerves when I would have liked something more--something that didn't rely so heavily on the romance aspect that the love interest provides.

Oh Adam.
Adam who knows exactly what I'm capable of.
My heart is a water balloon exploding in my chest. My lungs are swinging from my rib cage. I feel as though every fist in the world has decided to punch me in the stomach. I shouldn't care so much, but I do.
He'll hate me forever now. He won't even look at me. (p. 94)
I'm not much of a fan of the romance in this book, but don't take my word for it too seriously. These kinds of romances just aren't for me, but most YA readers will delight in it all. I do however like the little backstory we learn about the two of them. It was so, so sweet. :) To get things straight: their history = cute and sweet, their actions and how much Juliette thinks about him = not so much.

As for Juliette herself . . . she undergoes many, many changes throughout the course of this first book in the series. At the beginning she's a wreck, which is reasonable considering she has never been able to touch people without fearing the consequences. Even her own parents are afraid to be near her. Despite that, she still manages to remain kind and unable to turn her heart over to evil and darkness. She gains strength, mostly through her romance with Adam, but also by herself. The overall mood of the book shifts as her world and her relationships and her outlook changes.

Something that is compared to X-men just HAS to have a super-evil villain, right? In this case, the name's Warner, and he's just so bad he's good. He has got to be the most warped villain I've ever seen in a book before. What sets him apart from others, is that he also manages to retain some level of sympathy from the reader. He's such a complexly drawn character that he's not ALL black. At one point, I'm sure I felt that he wasn't even the enemy here, although that thought did not last long! There's also a slight attraction that Warner has . . . though I like my literary guys with just a little less crazy. Still, just for Warner alone, Shatter Me is one of those stories that will not go away.

[Juliette is unwillingly being tested on her "skills"; led into a room with nothing but a one-way-mirror/window on the wall. Then, floor to ceiling, spikes emerge. . . .]
"The door squeals open and a toddler waddles in wearing nothing but a diaper. He's blindfolded and hiccuping sobs, shuddering in fear.
"If you don't save him," Warner's words crackle through the room, "we won't, either."
Saving him is simple: I need to pick him up, find a safe spot of ground, and hold him in my arms until the experiment is over.
There's only one problem.
If I touch him, he might die.
(p. 166)

Shatter Me does not disappoint if you're looking for some action. From memory the action scenes are written surprisingly well. Even better than the action scenes, in my opinion, was just guessing what was going to happen next! The suspense in not knowing was phenomenal, making this book unputdownable! The ending provides a strong base for the second book, but it kind of suffers from anti-climax. Keep in mind that if you're looking only for action, the heavy writing style, especially at the beginning, may bore you.

One other thing . . . the cover. I just have to talk about it. Juliette does not ONCE wear a white dress, so I have absolutely no idea why the cover features her wearing one. Most of the time she's in rags. If they wanted to chuck a dress on it (the cover), they could've gone for purple or yellow(?), since those actually make sense. I do like the slashes, though. 

It should also be noted that I consider this more supernatural than dystopian. The world-building didn't cut it for me, though we get to see the bleakness of the world environment, I think.


* cheapest Australian e-store price



All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.


Other SHATTER ME reviews
YA Reads: 4.5 stars {link}
Hooked to Books: "...blew me away" {link}
Reclusive Bibliophile: "I was hooked from the get go..." {link}
Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf: A- {link}
I Swim For Oceans: 4.5 stars {link}

~ Where are the Aussie reviews? Comment and I'll add it in! ~

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge 2011 (I know it's already 2012, but I read this in 2011)

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