Series: Shatter Me #1
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books on November 15th 2011
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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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, otherwise known as: When Creative Writing Class Goes Wrong.
I am all for experimental writing, for stretching your abilities and trying to find fresh ways to express ideas. Occasionally you end up with genius, but most of the time you result in pretentious, awkward prose that stick in the proverbial craw of readers. This book is that writing. There are plenty of examples that I can give as evidence – but I shall stick with two relatively short ones:
“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? Are you fucking kidding me? We have a word for that. I believe that is almost the dictionary definition of the word coward. I would explain what was wrong with the rest of the paragraph too but I want to keep this review to a 10,000 word thesis at max.
“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.”
I get, artistically, that Mafi wanted to expose her readers to the mind of a girl whose sanity is fragile and questionable, and that she’s trying to show this through the prose. I don’t think the effect works or is done particularly well. I think the workings of a troubled mind would result in more than bad analogies and a bunch of numbers. Despite the fact that Juliette’s backstory and premise is interesting, we still end up with the same mundane, cookie-cutter heroine that can be seen in the vast majority of Young Adult literature. The only thing insane about this novel is how predictable and trite it is.
It would not be completely unreasonable to question my sanity in regards to reading Young Adult novels.
When are popular young adult authors going to provide more to the characterization of their main protagonists than: Irresistible, unique outsider, in love with a guy?
Can’t male protagonists have other qualities than: in love with main character, hot, tragic backstory to illicit excessive brooding?
The entire premise of Shatter Me promised something different and new. Yet we still end up with the same bland old fare.
The plot and pacing is awkward and cumbersome. Even when situations are supposed to be tense, there is a sense of boredom and predictability. I feel sad that this is yet again, another disappointing dystopian Young Adult novel that will join its sisters in the Mediocre Hall of I Can’t Be Stuffed.
But, if you do decide to visit, at least you get a free shirt!
One last thing – the ending? That pissed me off the most! Xavier’s school for Mutants in Rebellion of the Oppressive Dystopian Regime? FML! And the suit, using that word loosely, that they provide for her at the end? Yeah, that’s great…
Doesn’t EVERY woman look at this suit and just say to themselves, “Yes! I can’t wait to wear this! This doesn’t objectify me as a woman, degrade me as a human being and make an embarrassment out of everyone involved. Not. At. All.
It’s like the mutant version of fantasy armour for women. And as we all know, Women’s armour sucks.”