Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me #1
Published by HarperTeen (11.15.2011)
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, 338 pages
Source: I own it
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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.
After reading several awesome reviews for this book, I was really itching to get my hands on it and see what the fuss was all about. So, let’s get the complaints out of the way first. The purple prose really disappointed me (even though I tried not to let it because I was so looking forward to reading this). And the metaphors, good LORD, the metaphors. Every freaking page. A few is one thing, but after the first like, 20, I think my eye actually started to twitch and I found myself rolling my eyes frequently. Here are a few examples:
I’m wearing dead cotton on my limbs and a blush of roses on my face. Ugh. Roses, fine. But dead cotton? Really?
His eyes are the perfect shade of cobalt, blue like a blossoming bruise, clear and deep and decided.
Since when was a bruise a perfect shade of blue??? Sure, bruises are fun to poke, but pretty? Hardly.
He says it with a small smile the size of Jupiter.
Uh…what? Oxymoron much?
I want to bury my tears in a bucket of regret.
My heart is a field of lilies blooming under a pane of glass, pitter-pattering to life like a rush of raindrops.
He leans back against the couch. Runs a free hand over his face. Seasons change. Stars explode. Someone is walking on the moon.
Anyone else seeing that condom commercial, describing sex with random imagery? Maybe it’s just me.
Heat rushes up my neck and I fall off a ladder holding a paintbrush dipped in red.
What does that even mean? And no, she didn’t literally fall with paint.
He closes his eyes for half of a second and I marvel at the drop drop drops of hot water caught in his eyelashes like pearls forged from pain.
His lips are spelling secrets and my ears are spilling ink, staining my skin with his stories.
And that wasn’t even half. Just the really annoying ones. So distracted I was by the flowery writing, it took me a long time to get through this because I had to go back and re-read paragraphs multiple times. And some of the words – like, lackadaisical ennui – WTF is that? Does anyone know? No? Didn’t think so. Other irritating comparisons were the ones about the eyes:
My eyes break open. 2 shattered windows filling my mouth with glass.
His eyes are 2 buckets of rainwater: deep, fresh, clear.
His gaze is fixed on me; 2 buckets of river water at midnight.
My eyes are 2 windows cracked open by the chaos in this world.
Which brings me to something else that I found irritating….the numbers instead of words. Always 2 knocks or 4 walls instead of two knocks or four walls. I don’t know why, but this really bothered me. It was like Mafi refused to spell out any numbers.
Despite how annoying most of the metaphors were, there were a few that I liked. Such as:
My life is 4 walls of missed opportunities poured into concrete molds.
1 word, 2 lips, 3 4 5 fingers form 1 fist.
1 corner, 2 parents, 3 4 5 reasons to hide.
1 child, 2 eyes, 3 4 17 years of fear.
Okay, not really a metaphor, but flowery. But still I liked it.
Hope in this world bleeds out of the barrel of a gun.
This one really conveys the desperate conditions of the world painted in Shatter Me.
Hate looks just like everybody else until it smiles. Until it spins around and lies with lips and teeth carved into the semblance of something too passive to punch.
That quote describes Warner perfectly. He’s a bad dude, that much is clear, but he treats Juliette with kindness at times. At first I had mixed feelings about him, but then I realized he just wanted power. Toward the end he became so obsessed with Juliette that it was almost sad. So strong was his obsession that he deluded himself into believing he loved her. I almost felt sorry for him.
This book may have taken a little more time and effort to read to see past the flower garden of writing, but I still really liked it. There were a lot of run-on sentences, incomplete sentences, missing punctuation and broken, sporadic writing, but somehow Mafi made it work. Surprisingly, it really added to Juliette’s point of view. She’s been locked up in solitary for so long it’s a wonder she hasn’t lost her mind. So the way it’s written gives you an idea of how she thinks. At times there was too much feeling for words (mostly times with Adam) that Mafi writes in feelings. That’s the only way I can describe it. Words so beautifully (and randomly) mashed together to create feeling that I felt what Juliette was feeling.
I really felt sadness on Juliette’s behalf, because all she really wanted was to be loved. Her parents didn’t want her, she didn’t have any friends, and she wasn’t ever allowed to touch people. The general public viewed her as a freak, and kids would throw rocks at her. She has so much power but still retains her humanity. Even with the horrible way she had been treated.
There were moments were I was absolutely rapt by this dystopian world. It’s a future where books are destroyed, artifacts are burned, and all diverse languages are banished so one new language can be made. Different is bad. The sick and the old are locked away or discarded. Only the strong should survive. When Mafi was describing this future, I was horrified. No diversity? But that’s what makes us human. What makes us who we are, what separates us from the next person. She makes it sound utterly convincing that this could come to be in the distant future. How we could let the world go and it would come to such extremes.
View Spoiler »Okay, so the whole story I had the question in my mind – Surely Juliette isn’t the only anomaly? And towards the end, it was finally answered. After finishing it, I now see it was compared to X-Men. When Juliette put on the purple suit and gloves, I pictured Anna Paquin with the white streak in her hair, unable to touch anybody.
And the unanswered question – if Adam could touch her because he was probably special, wouldn’t that make Warner special too? If you read it, what do you think? « Hide Spoiler
Mafi better hurry up and finish the second book. I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book!
Writing style: 2.5/5
Overall rating: 3.5/5