“The sun drops into the ocean and splashes browns and reds and yellows and oranges into the world outside my window. A million leaves from a hundred different branches dip in the wind, fluttering with the false promise of flight. The gust catches their withered wings only to force them downward, forgotten, left to be trampled by the soldiers stationed just below.”
17 year old Juliette has been locked up for 264 days for the murder she never thought she was capable of committing. 265 days without human contact because the power she was born with, the power she did not want, the power that has alienated her from everyone she has even known, all except him. Adam Kane is the one person who looked at her like she was a human but he is not the only who has their eyes one Juliette. Soon love lust and obsession is thrown into this fast paced romance novel by debut author Tahereh Mafi.
Review: Reading this book was a surreal experience. Especially the first, I felt like I was trapped in a broken mind along with athousand and one metaphors half of which I didn’t understand. And yes the text strikes are on purpose; this book is full of them. At first they were intriguing, they added to the surrealism of the narration. I was confused and amazed by how much the book pulled me in. I also really loved the mystery of it even if in the end it didn’t quite live up to its expectation.
As characters go Juliette is likable enough, once again I loved the mystery of her past and the breakdown of psyche. She seemed like a very strong protagonist who would make the book a journey to remember and she did for the most part. Mafi has created a fast paced dystopian novel with a lot of romance and danger. Overall it was a good enough read although some aspects of the book started to bug right from the word go.
The first problem I had with this book is the strikes, like I said before at first it was intriguing but it gets old real fast especially coupled with the constant repetition of words it starts chipping away at the part of your mind that is has been reprogramed by the backspace button on your laptop.
If you can get passed this little quirk of writing then you encounter perhaps one of the biggest writing flaws in this book, metaphors. And I assure you there were quite many, when I first encountered one on the first page I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty in them but by page three I was pretty much rolling my eyes at the ever more elaborative metaphors. I will give you some examples just to take out the surprise element should you choose to read Shatter Me.
‘ I am gaping with my eyes, gaping with my mouth, gaping wide open because I feel holes everywhere, punched into the terrain of my body. My heart must be bleeding out of my chest.”
“His eyes are two shots of green punched through a pane of glass. Cutting through me”
“I always wonder about raindrops. I wonder about how they’re always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. It’s like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn’t seem to care where the contents fall, doesn’t seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the drops dare to tap on their doors”
And so and so on, they get more exaggerative and annoying as the pages go on.
Now that we have talked about Mafi’s writing flaws about we move on to the characters and there are many whom I felt were written brilliantly and some were rather unconvincing. For example the villain of this book Warren falls in the unconvincing pile. In the beginning I totally bought into his sadistic and evil portrayal, I hated his guts and I wanted Juliette to touch him fast and hard (and I don’t mean that in a sexual context) but once again he falls short of the truly great villain image. Somehow by the end of the book he is brought down to an obsessed teenage bad boy wannabe rather than a truly heinous character.
The next character who falls in the same category as Warren the wannabe is Juliette herself. At first I was impressed by her strength, her resilience and I had much hope that she would grow as a character during the progression of the book but she remained as whiny, cowardly as ever. As fast passed as the action might get in this book, the characters are rather static.
The only characters I liked actually I loved are Kenji and James especially James, for a 10 year old he is pretty smart and he points out the last flaw in this journey to nowhere. How convenient is it that the two people who are interested in Juliette can both touch her without dying, it’s one thing for me to note that and say it but when one your character’s point it out, well it basically ridiculed the entire bases of the story and what is with the weird bursts of superpowers seriously it’s like Mafi could not think of another way to get them out of a tight sport so used it. It’s all good and fair to give you character’s superpowers but when it fails to manifest when she needs it most (getting her face sucked by a wannabe) then it defeats the existence of the powers.
The last thing I am going to rant about and I promise it is the last thing is the setting or the lack of it. Despite being a dystopian novel is lacks in world creation. This book is primarily a romance book and its setting was seriously understated, I would have like even the vague description of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium right about now. My therapy must be working because even the pretty cover didn’t do it for me this time, somehow a pretty girl in a dress didn’t feel like the right choice, maybe if she was wearing trousers (or pants for you lovely Americans) then it would have it.
Despite the many faults in this book, if you take it as a light hearted read rather than an in-depth analysis of it for a review it can be very enjoyable. I especially liked, okay loved the many moments of Juliette and Adam it made my heart do the funny dance.
I award this book 3 out 5 starts for the romantic, fast paced action created by Mafi and .5 for the pretty cover (what it’s still pretty).
Publisher: Harper Collins USA (Nov 2011)
Author's Website: www.taherehmafi.com