Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.
But Juliette has a plan of her own.
After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time–and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.
Buckle in, ladies and gents. This is going to be one heck of a book review. Why? Because I have so, so much to say about this book–and, trust me, not all of it is good.
Shatter Me was a book I was dying to pick up. SEVEN DIFFERENT AGENTS went flying after this manuscript. Seven. And this is Mafi’s first novel. SEVEN. A regular author is lucky to find one. So, clearly, this book had to have something LIFE CHANGING in here. So of course I had to read it.
The beginning of the book didn’t disappoint me (my personal opinion is going to be part of something I explain later on, hence the constant repetition of this fact). All I could think at the time was, “Whoa. WHOA. GUYS. OHMYGOD WHOA.” This lasted until halfway into the book, when my pure and utter entrancement with her writing style gave way to the reviewer in me who watches for every little slip up a YA author can make. Mafi made a HUGE one, one that I’ve discussed before with fire–and now have to discuss again. But anyways, after that, I couldn’t get back into her writing style. I started to evaluate it clinically, and reading reviews on Goodreads made it clear to me why this book–this amazingly written awesomeness that wowed me into submission–is struggling to hold a 4 star rating.
Mafi’s writing style doesn’t belong on a YA shelf.
Okay, that sounds harsh on both her and YA readership, but in general that fact is true. I hate to bring back up Twilight but–whatever you think of the book–you have to agree that the writing style there is ridiculously simple. And it’s a worldwide phenomenon. Those two things are related. YA readers read YA because they don’t want to be bogged down in the complex, fantastical sentences that run amuck in, say, literary fantasy. One thing I’ve always heard said about writing YA is keep it to the point.
Halfway through the book, I remarked to my also writer boyfriend that I wanted to write down every one of her unique descriptors to steal for my own, but that would mean paraphrasing the whole book. It was upsetting to realize that that’s not a good thing. Shatter Me caught all this attention from ADULTS. Adults who read YA all the time and are just begging for something as refreshingly different as Mafi’s. Personally, as a writer myself, I would like to worship the pages her writing style waltzes over. But the typical young adult browsing the shelves that Shatter Me sits on just don’t have the patience for the way it’s written, and that makes me sad.
But now you are wondering, why is the book given four stars here? Why not five, if I love it so much? It’s because halfway through the book, Mafi violated one of the worst clichés every in YA literature, and I cannot forgive her for it.
Uh oh. I think I am going to rant after all.
Romance is one of the biggest things in YA books. Doesn’t matter what the genre, it is ALWAYS THERE. I don’t mind this; sometimes I even quite enjoy it. But I am still at a loss as to why adults think that 99% of females see some hot guy and instantly fall eternally in love with him. And you know? I’d be fine with it sometimes, because some girls are over dramatic, but ALL THE TIME? And WORSE, when the guy is also instantly like, “You are mine forever.” PEOPLE. SERIOUSLY. STOP. I literally can’t take it anymore. Shatter Me was one of the worst offenders of this I’ve seen in a long time. Juliette and Adam haven’t seen each other in THREE YEARS, since the NINTH GRADE, and they’re professing their eternal love for each other within five seconds, and it includes several speeches about how the other embodies all the strength, beauty and/or goodness that the speaker thought was no longer left in the world. Someone shoot me.
Granted, Mafi’s writing style has already given Shatter Me a otherworldly, unreal feel to it, so I would have honestly been willing to accept a little bit of that. But…the way they talk to each other? No. Nonono. I’ve had a boyfriend for eight months, and I STILL wouldn’t tell him, as he was dying, “You have to get better so I can memorize every inch of your body with my lips” (or at least that’s the general sense of the quote). Just…no.
You know what’s worse? I honestly don’t know what to think of this book. The thing between Adam and Juliette burns me something fierce, and sometimes I want to give it three stars. I won’t give it any less because of the way Mafi writes, and sometimes because of that I want to give it more. Sometimes, for brief moments, I can forgive Adam and Juliette because their love just adds to the overall exaggerated tone of the book. I just…honestly don’t know what to do with Shatter Me. I fell in love with Mafi, but I came to dislike the book. I didn’t know that HAPPENED. Half the reason I am so angry with it is because I love it just as much as I hate it and I can’t freaking pick a side. I will certainly be picking up the sequel because I can’t NOT, but I am going to send out this one wish: Please let Mafi write a book worth her. She could do SO MUCH and have writing that just blows the mind but…that’s all wasted on Shatter Me and it’s audience.