Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter ME
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Pages: 340
Release Date: October 2nd, 2012
Source: Oyster Book Subscription Service

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.

Shatter Me is a book I've been waiting to read for a long time. And sadly, my feelings are torn about this book. While I like the plot and some of the general elements of the book, I found the narration style distracting and stylistically overdone most of the time. Thankfully, I read an e-book version, so I avoided the strikethroughs I've heard rumors about, but I'm not sure it spared me much.

Initially, I liked the fragmented thought pattern. It really showed the struggles Juliette was having in my eyes. After being in isolation for so long, you could feel her mental torment as she tried to make sense of things. I got what it was meant to show, and the broken helplessness that the narrator has trying to cling to some sense of reality.


A big but...

The continuous imagery, counting and metaphors felt overdone and heavy. Sometimes, they didn't even seem to make sense. If you'd like to understand just how much they didn't make sense, feel free to read any of the one-star reviews on Goodreads. Just to give you a taste:

"He leans back against the couch. Runs a free hand over his face. Seasons change. Stars explode. Someone is walking on the moon." 
Just, what
Shat­ter Me, oth­er­wise known as: When Cre­ative Writ­ing Class Goes Wrong.
“His eyes scan the sil­hou­ette of my struc­ture and the slow motion makes my heart race. I catch the rose petals as they fall from my cheeks, as they float around the frame of my body, as they cover me in some­thing that feels like the absence of courage.” The absence of courage?
While I wasn't as completely irritated as some people, it is hard to read a whole book where the girl is constantly swooning and crying and emotionally a borderline nutcase. Everyone wants to convince her she's not crazy, but you know, half the time I was pretty convinced she was.

It's hard to side with Juliette, and it's hard to see her through Adam's eyes. I think the first person narration hurt this book in a lot of places, because we can only see the world through her broken viewpoint. She has this imagery she is using to see the world and make sense of it, maintain her sanity, if you will, but it's distracting as a reader. It's like watching an entire movie from that home-video, shaky camera viewpoint. Every once and awhile, you just want someone to grab the camera and show her how to hold the darn thing. 

Ready, aim, there is the plot!

The end was... promising and disappointing, I guess. Suddenly there are more people with abilities, cool beans! Again, I feel torn by that. I love x-men and super powers and books like that. In fact, they are some of my favorites. But the whole safe haven for freaks felt like an after thought in this book. It seemed like "Hey, they just escaped certain death, but we need a better ending... lets throw in a school!" I don't know.It felt a little disjointed to me.

I think the romance was overdone, and it felt really desperate, and not as developed as maybe it could have been. Because Juliette was dying for touch, it seemed like anyone she could make physical contact with was automatically going to be desirable, even a psychopath. I wanted to see more emotional growth as she shakes off the rattling effects of her isolation. I really just wanted to see Juliette take a step back and love or hate Adam without that blinding her. 

I don't know. I didn't hate it, but I felt it had a lot more potential it could have embraced. I would read the sequel, but I would honestly be praying the writing style has changed a bit or I will probably rage quit before finding out how it ends. 

It was like eating a giant bowl of sugary metaphors. 

Sometimes you just need a little sustenance. 

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