Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

image from Goodreads

I must confess: this is a review of a book I did not finish.

But there are reasons I did not finish this book and I think they need to be talked about.

I waited a long time to read Shatter Me. I was aware of it before it even had a title, before it had a release date, months and months before it had a cover. I read the author's blog and I find her such a charming person. Regardless of what the book was about or what the cover looked like, I knew I was going to buy it and read it anyway. I support authors like that.

And the internet made no small deal about this book! Probably everyone in the entire YA world was clambering for an ARC and, if they didn't get one, giving the early reviewers the stink-eye. There was a much-hyped book trailer, a much-hyped cover (revealed on MTV!), and some really early rave reviews. The stage was set.

So, does it live up to all that crazy hype?

My answer is no.

Let me explain. From the reviews I read, I knew going in the writing was going to be lyrical. I read a few excerpts that let me in on the style of the novel. In my opinion, it was too much. Way, way, way too much. Every other sentence has a long, rambling metaphor that is beautiful on the surface, but soon becomes too drawn-out and convoluted. At first you're going right along with it because it sounds pretty, but by the time you get to the end of the sentence the meaning is completely jumbled. You start the sentence with a dreamy expression, but by the end your face looks all "WTF?"

I love metaphors. I do. I use many of them myself. Markus Zusak said once in an interview that he thinks each page of a novel should have a gem. That's my theory on metaphors and other pretty devices, too. One per page is nice. One item of beauty per page is perfect.

One. Not ten. I swear, every other sentence of Shatter Me is one of those pretty sentences. It just gets tiring to read and slows the pace down to a molasses-like trickle.

I only got about a quarter of the way into the book before calling it quits, so that's almost too soon to comment on the romance, as it barely got started. But that's just it: I quit so early on because nothing was happening. Adam is the most boring character ever written, I really can't think of a thing to say about him, and Warner? Um, is he supposed to be a love interest? Because I got serious creep vibes. Serious creep vibes. If a guy seems to have put you in prison just to test your abilities and see how you'd react (um, V for Vendetta, anyone??), you do not get involved with him. You do not. I got predatory vibes from him all the way and I can't imagine how that could ever have changed enough for Juliette to want to get it on with him.

Juliette herself is fairly blah. She has the ability to kill people by touching them, apparently, but by a quarter of the way into the book, that ability is barely explained. Mafi skirts the issue, describing Juliette's feels about the power and how her parents and other people reacted to her having the power, but never fully explained how the power worked or what exactly it does. Do people drop down dead when she touches them? Or do they get sick and die gradually? Do they asphyxiate? Or what?

Despite all the hullabaloo, Shatter Me is so messy it's not even funny. It feels like trendbait to me. I never got the feeling that it was a real story. I could never really get past knowing the specifics of the novels creation -- knowing that Jodi Reamer represented it, knowing that it got released the same year as it sold (practically unheard of). I don't think you're missing anything at all if you skip this one.


  1. Aw, man. I thought the writing was overdone in the excerpts, too, and some of the metaphors made me go WTF? But that just about every sentence in the book is like that... damn. I love the author's blog, and I've been following for a while, so this is even more of a disappointment.

    Raindrop Reflections

  2. YES to this whole review. I anticipated this novel too and picked it up 3 different times to TRY to force myself to finish it and I couldn't. Too much pretty prose and emotion and not enough action or characterization. Waaay too much hype over this book.

    Good review.

  3. I think Tahereh has a lot of talent. I will probably never finish this book, so I won't be reading the sequels, but I will keep an eye on her and read future books. There's so much potential there. She just has to fall out of love with her words, IMO.

  4. Oh sorry you didn't like it, always a let down when you're looking forward to a book.

  5. ...heh :) I agree with so much with your review, and hahha I don't think Warner was supposed to be a love interest :p I think I really liked Warner BECAUSE he was so fricken creepy, but yeah, I found Julliette and Adam both unmemorable... seeing I'm thinking back and can't really remember ANYTHING about them :p And YES, when I was reading, i was thinking trendbait as well (though my choice of words weren't as concise)

  6. you're the second of my online blog/reading friends who gave up on this book and i have a feeling that if i do get a copy i'll end up doing the same. there's this friend of mine on goodreads who's posting excerpts of this book as she's reading it and it's making my brain turn into mush. reeeal bad sign.

    trendbait's the best word i have for this book. i was so excited before it's release it was insane and now i'm like...nah.

  7. I've heard a lot of the hype about this book, but it's interesting to hear more about the story and writing, and less about the hype. I don't think I could read something with an over abundance of metaphors, etc. Like you, one metaphor would be fine, but there's definitely a limit. Thanks for posting your thoughts on this.

  8. Aww. I LOVED this book, but you know...not every book is for everyone! I definitely have felt the way you're feeling about other books that have been totally hyped!