Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

4 stars

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.

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

 

5 stars

“Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s not too pleased when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year. But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new friends, including the handsome Etienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken—and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s been waiting for?”

When I started this blog, I swore I would be analytical. I swore that I would look at a book with a critical eye no matter how much I enjoyed the storyline. Since then, I’ve done that. Or at least, I think I have. (Drop me a line if you think there’s a way for me to improve my reviews!) Either way, if you like a critical book review…stop reading here. Almost nothing in this book is going to be critical. I am going to allow myself to be the 17 year old girl that I am and just…gush.

Because I loved this book.

I’ll admit, I nearly gave this book 4 ½ stars simply for the fact that I don’t want to be one of those people who throws around 5 star ratings. But then I stopped and thought…why? There is absolutely and utterly no reason.

I should start this off with a disclaimer: I usually HATE books that are entirely teen romance. I hate them. I literally hate them. It’s like all YA authors think that these things need to be filled with a bunch of clichés and fantasy. (Disagree? Comment and give me a book as an example!) When you pick up Anna and the French Kiss, the synopsis doesn’t seem promising. Girl goes to boarding school, girl meets guy, they fall in love, PLAY THE SAPPY HAPPY ENDING! It is the plot of ten dozen different teen novels with the same exact premise as this one.

But that is not what happened here.

Anna and the French Kiss was REAL. In some YAs—and this is especially horrible in the first person, as Anna and the French Kiss is written—the main character is clearly being written by an adult. There are a myriad of ways that this shows itself, but all us teens know it. During this book, however, Anna was either absolutely and utterly exactly like me or at least a girl I would kill to have as my best friend. She was actually a teen like me, who thought like me and talked like me and related in every which way to me. Even if this book hadn’t had some other amazing qualities, I could have liked it just on that alone. But it got better.

The plot was REAL. Alright, it was fairly fairytale, what with the Paris setting and the hot English guy, but I’ll forget about that for now. Anna was not a sad, swoony girl who knew that she and Etienne were soul mates from the first second. Etienne did not fall in love with her at first glance, nor was he a jerk who changes his ways because of her or some other cliché. He was a real guy. She was a real girl. They both had their issues that weren’t just limited to their families (though there was certainly some fairly cliché family/father drama). They both had their own personality issues, and they both made some choices and had views that weren’t necessarily correct.

Hallelujah for an author who gets it.

Alright, the ending is pretty fairytale. They all live happily ever after in the most swoon worthy fashion. That didn’t bother me all that much. Maybe a little bit of fairytale isn’t that bad after all. The plot was real enough and I loved the characters so much that I honestly wanted that happily ever after. Despite its premise and ending, though, Anna and the French Kiss has been an answer to my prayers. It’s a teen romance I can stomach, has a main character that’s real and has a love story that’s parameters weren’t set up by the Brothers Grimm. It’s well written, it’s cute, it’s funny and it’s REAL. I hear that Perkins’s next book, Lola and the Boy Next Door (on shelves now), has a more realistic setting and I am jumping up and down to get a hold of it. Anna and the French Kiss isn’t just a good read; it’s my new best friend.