Early Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1) by Tahereh Mafi

How did I get it: HarperTeen. Shatter Me comes out on November 15.

Why did I read it: I was intrigued by the premise and couldn’t resist saying yes to the ARC.

How I would rate it: 4 out of 5 stars.

Summary:

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.

Review:  I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did simply based on the fact that this is not really the sort of book I go out of my way to find, but I didn’t want to miss out on a promising debut. I will admit that the first few pages had me worried and some of the stylistic devices Mafi used were
a
bit
unnecessary.
And distracting. But once I got to know Juliette, I could not put this book down.

The plot, the emotions, the romance, and the two main characters were pretty terrific. Juliette’s world is a dark place for normal people and even worse for her as she grew up with the ability to kill with so much as a touch. I felt really involved and invested in her story. I really wanted her to overcome her own dark thoughts in regards to her horrific powers and the influence of a severely deranged teenager named Warner who wants her to join his side.

Thankfully she has Adam to help her remember that the sort of person she has always been in spite of her powers and everyone else. While their romance is helped out by several convenient factors not to mention proximity and loneliness, there was a real rich and empathetic understanding between Adam and Juliette. That aspect of their relationship was so important to me as a reader and yet is so overlooked in Young Adult fiction, but I digress. I strongly believed in their feelings for one another and, more importantly, Mafi continuously gave me reasons to do so. I also loved that Adam didn’t really save her from anything but helped Juliette find the strength and desire to save herself.

If I squint hard enough, I can see the Hunger Games and X-men comparison being promoted by HarperTeen, but it is sort of like comparing oranges to pumpkins. There’s similarities to Hunger Games but not enough to call them the same thing. Juliette was definitely more Rogue than she is Jean Grey too, which was a major relief. And there’s a bit of the comic book to the dialogue, action, and plot. Unfortunately I think the more comic book aspects of the book came out of left field at the very end, but I won’t say much about that since I don’t want to spoil the read for others. I also wasn’t overly pleased by how things were handled in terms of Adam’s younger brother and I wasn’t blown away by the bad guy either, but the worst of the character in my opinion was Adam’s not-much-of-a-friend Kenji who was too hyper and obnoxious for words. He also seemed completely out of place like a really annoying character from a Shonen Jump Manga who went left when he should have gone right and ended up in a Young Adult Dystopian novel.

The strikethroughs and line breaks appeared less and less as the book went on, but even now that I’ve finished Shatter Me, I find myself questioning their use at all. They really bogged down the first few chapters to the point where I almost abandoned the book altogether. I’m sure part of it is my bad since I came close to assuming that too much style would mean less substance, but honestly I don’t know if these aspects of the book going to appeal to all readers or not. Since most of the strikethroughs were for thoughts that Juliette didn’t share, I also think italics would have been a lot easier on the eyes. And Mafi’s writing was really strong and engaging enough on its own.

In conclusion, a great debut. Shatter Me is a book that you won’t want to miss in November if you’re a fan of Dystopias, Romance, or Teens with dysfunctional mutant-like powers. I’m absolutely delighted to have read a Young Adult title where the romance made me want to continue reading rather than want to hurl said book at a wall. I can’t wait to see what happens next for Juliette or Adam. Or to read about what they do to the world they live in.

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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5 Responses to Early Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

  1. basiasbookshelf says:

    You lucky librarian! I’ve been trying to get my paws on a copy. 😉 I’ve heard stylistically this is sort of a pain to slog through so I’m wondering if I can manage it – I don’t have a lot of patience for that sort of thing. I sort of went bonkers on a book that was written entirely in verse earlier this year.

    Maybe the fact that there’s some extra romance will keep me interested. I was wondering about that – I was sort of worried it would be more of a hard dystopian. Nice review!

    • Thankfully the style was worth dealing with thanks to the substance, but I know what you mean. And honestly if I hadn’t gotten an ARC, I might have tried less hard.

      I’m so glad I hung in there because of the romance being pretty awesome. The setting is a pretty bleak one but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂

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