Book Review: Shatter Me – Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
ISBN: 9780062085481
Pages: 352
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Teen/YA, Dystopian
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary:

Juliette is seventeen years old and is a danger to everyone around her.  It’s why she hasn’t spoken to or touched anyone in almost a year, and why she is in prison.  But all of a sudden, she’s no longer alone.  She’s given a cellmate named Adam, and slowly she realizes that he isn’t a stranger to her.  As she begins to trust Adam, everything changes in the blink of an eye and Juliette finds herself free of the four walls around her, but not of the prison she’s been in.

Review:

Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me is a book that received a lot of pre- and post-publication buzz, which piqued my curiosity.  The setup is familiar – a bleak dystopian future and a world that is dying.  Unfortunately, Mafi doesn’t really delve into the intricacies of Juliette’s world.  Instead, the reader is given sparse details about it, and as a result, readers will likely be left wanting.  It’s clear that human waste and pollution created the world that Juliette lives in, but there isn’t much more information than that.

Mafi’s writing style is what really sets Shatter Me apart from other novels in this genre.  She has a poetic, almost stream-of-consciousness style for Juliet.  Her writing is emotional and very sensuous.  It’s easy to become caught up in Mafi’s writing and let that carry you through the book.  The style does have flaws, to be sure – for example, the overuse of metaphors – but it’s clear that the author is very gifted when it comes to writing.  It’s Mafi’s talent with prose that carries the book, as many of the other elements are, unfortunately, too weak to stand on their own.

Juliette starts out as an interesting character, but it quickly becomes clear that she is completely overwrought.  She has had a difficult life, to be sure, but it seems that everything is a matter of life and death to her.  It’s incredibly annoying to read, but at the same time, when you’re so caught up in the author’s writing style, it takes time to realize how frustrating it actually is.  It’s as if I was so taken by Mafi’s gorgeous writing that I didn’t realize for a time how much I was disliking the rest of the book.  But unfortunately, that realization came.  While I did like where Mafi took Juliette’s character, overall it was just too overdone for me and the story didn’t measure up.

While I can’t really recommend Shatter Me, I do understand the appeal of the book.  It is beautifully written and looked like it was going to explore deep ideas and truths, but instead was waylaid by a huge case of teen angst that made the book completely overwrought and unpleasant.  I completely respect Mafi’s writing abilities, and I look forward to reading her future books, but I don’t think I’ll be picking up any more novels about Juliette.

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Comments

  1. Wow! Seriously, I loved this book! I even surprised myself because I do not normally like these kind of books, and I normally don’t like Dystopian books. But I really love this one. I loved Juliette, I was so addicted to her. And the more adventurous it got the more I wanted to read. Now I can’t wait for the next one in the series!

  2. Wow! Seriously, I loved this book! I even surprised myself because I do not normally like these kind of books, and I normally don’t like Dystopian books. But I really love this one. I loved Juliette, I was so addicted to her. And the more adventurous it got the more I wanted to read. Now I can’t wait for the next one in the series!

  3. Unfortunately for authors who want to write a YA dystopian trilogy, they have big shoes to fill. There is a lot of competition out there, so if you are not at the top of your game, you are going to be forgotten. It sounds like this one might be a forgettable one…it takes more than great writing.

  4. Unfortunately for authors who want to write a YA dystopian trilogy, they have big shoes to fill. There is a lot of competition out there, so if you are not at the top of your game, you are going to be forgotten. It sounds like this one might be a forgettable one…it takes more than great writing.

  5. I think the world-building is to come in future sequels but I understand the annoyance that comes with knowing so little.

  6. I think the world-building is to come in future sequels but I understand the annoyance that comes with knowing so little.

  7. I definitely preferred the ending of the book when we had less of Juliette and more of other people as well as more of an idea of the outside world. Juliette is not one of my favorite narrators and the writing didn’t really work for me although I can see why other people love it.

  8. I definitely preferred the ending of the book when we had less of Juliette and more of other people as well as more of an idea of the outside world. Juliette is not one of my favorite narrators and the writing didn’t really work for me although I can see why other people love it.

  9. I can totally relate to great writing almost making a book worth reading, but ultimately, I think this one just wasn’t good enough. I grow rather tired of angsty characters and I can imagine this one would annoy me. I always feel more informed and balanced about a book after I have read your reviews. Often, your reviews are the deciding factor.

  10. I can totally relate to great writing almost making a book worth reading, but ultimately, I think this one just wasn’t good enough. I grow rather tired of angsty characters and I can imagine this one would annoy me. I always feel more informed and balanced about a book after I have read your reviews. Often, your reviews are the deciding factor.

  11. I had a similar reaction to this book. I felt Juliette’s reactions to simple things like a look or a smile were over the top. I listened to it on audio, and sometimes it was difficult to listen to the repetition. I might have enjoyed it more if I could skip over the parts that dragged.

  12. I had a similar reaction to this book. I felt Juliette’s reactions to simple things like a look or a smile were over the top. I listened to it on audio, and sometimes it was difficult to listen to the repetition. I might have enjoyed it more if I could skip over the parts that dragged.

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