Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Genre: Teen/YA, Dystopian
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3 out of 5
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.
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.