Let me begin this by saying that I had heard nothing but good things about this novel before going into it. Now that I’ve finished it, I have looked up a lot of bad reviews and it was such a relief to find that other people agreed with me.
Shatter Me is a debut
romance dystopian YA novel by Tahereh Mafi. The protagonist is a teenage girl named Juliette who’s been kept in solitary confinement for nearly a year because of her lethal touch. When a boy named Adam, who she happens to have history with, is thrown into her sell, everything begins to change. Warner, son of the Supreme Commander and leader of sector 45, wants to use Juliette as a weapon.
Premise alone, this book sounds extremely interesting. The ideal of having a lethal touch is intriguing and I like the idea of people trying to use Juliette as a weapon against her will. It’s a bit cliched, but it does make sense. Unfortunately, there were so many things in this book that didn’t work that I didn’t enjoy it at all.
The writing style was painfully awful. I’m saying that as someone who is a complete sucker for metaphors and imagery, however Mafi took this to a whole new level. I have never read such overly-protentious writing before. Every single sentence contained a phrase, metaphor, simile or some form of imagery that was supposed to sound beautiful but in reality it sounded like a child in a creative writing class and having access to a thesaurus for the first time. You remember that episode of Friends where Joey has to write Monica and Chandler a recommendation for the adoption agency and he has access to a thesaurus? It was worse than that. Which is saying a lot, considering that Joey ended up signing off his letter saying ‘love, baby kangaroo Tribbiani’ instead of ‘love, Joey Tribbiani’. I don’t want to post too many examples of the writing, however I will list a few below just so you get the idea.
“Summer is like a slow-cooker bringing everything in the world to a boil one degree at a time. It promises a million happy adjectives only to pour stench and sewage into your nose for dinner.”
“I am a raindrop. My parents emptied their pockets of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab.”
Besides the writing, I had major issues with the total lack of development in this dystopian world. I seem to have dreadful luck when picking up dystopians, however this book tops the list as the worst I have read. Basically nothing was explained in this novel. From Juliette’s powers (what the hell is up with the super strength?!) and the powers of other characters. While I assume this is explained in further novels, I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t and it was just a ‘random occurrence’.
My biggest issue however was the setting. It is established that this book is set in the future, but how far in the future is it supposed to be? What the hell happened to the earth to make everything so f-ed up? What’s with all the military rule and whatnot? None of these things are made clear. In my mind, this novel is not dystopian. Just like a lot of other ‘dystopian’ novels that have been released, they are just paranormal romances with a futuristic setting. Authors need to learn to establish when/where/why/what it is to write a semi-decent dystopian novel.
The fact that this book reads like a paranormal romance is also something else I cannot stand. At a few points when reading this I almost gave up entirely on the book because of how often Juliette thought about touching people. For someone who supposedly can’t touch people, she sure makes the most of what she’s got. It’s ridiculous. The amount of people she actually can touch in this book is way too convenient and almost makes you want to gag. She is able to touch and make-out with the main two love interests? How crazy! Even Adam’s 10 year old brother points out that it is convenient. If you need a character to point out something about your writing device, it’s probably not that great of a thing to write about. I’m entirely sure that anyone who enjoys reading this book will definitely enjoy some adult erotic when they grow up, because damn if this didn’t read like erotica for teenagers. I mean, did you listen to how much Juliette enjoys touching people?
Juliette’s super strength is also something I couldn’t get off my mind throughout the book. There were so many times when she was trapped, being held captive or making-out with Warner but really trying to kill him where the super strength would have been the perfect way out of the situation, so why didn’t she just utilise it? It’s not like she doesn’t have control over it, because there was a situation towards the end of the book where she broke into an ‘unbreakable’ building quite easily without any thought. So why didn’t she take advantage of it more?
The final thing that irked me enough to hate this novel was the insta-love. Juliette and Adam are practically strangers (they went to school together, but never spoke) but within days of meeting each other and having extremely limited conversations they are admitting they love each other? No. This is such a major problem in YA literature. Relationships need to be developed. End of.
There are so many other reasons I could say I disliked novel, but I don’t think there’s a need. It’s pretty clear that I did not enjoy this novel in the slightest. It was an absolute mess of a book. Honestly, the reasoning behind my 1 star rating was more to my credit of being able to sit through it and the fact that I cannot exactly rate it less then 1 star. This book completely turned me off continuing the series, and at this stage it’s very doubtful I’ll ever pick them up.