Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

15 February, 2012 Reviews 16 comments

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh MafiShatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me #1
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books on November 15th 2011
Pages: 388
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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.”

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy

16 Responses to “Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi”

  1. KB/KT Grant

    For some reason I loved this one, even though from all the reasons you listed, I shouldn’t.

    What saved Shatter Me big time for me was Warner. I love how evil and psycho he was! I hope he’s not redeemed in the sequel.

    Also the ending was a bit too cutesy for me, but overall I couldn’t get enough of this one.

  2. Kat Kennedy

    I honestly get why you would, Katie. Warner was the best thing about this book. I would have been more interested if Juliette had been honest with herself instead of shaking her head insisting she was every passive female MC I’ve ever read.

  3. elena

    Haha, I was actually reading this review over at Goodreads! I enjoyed this book a lot (mainly because of Warner, I want more of his character and I want him to be actually complex) but all your points are so true. I seriously did not get how Adam and Juliette loved each other so quickly though since they never even talked…? Throughout the whole book, I was wondering about the X-Men comparisons and then it became a little bit TOO much like X-Men in the end. I hope she’ll diverge from it in the next book.
    elena recently posted…our top six ya heroines!My Profile

  4. Rebs @ Book Rants

    For some reason I loved this, I couldn’t put it down. I thought I would hate it since I had read some negative reviews prior to reading it, but it actually surprised me. I loaned it to a friend and she’s kind of more on page with you.

  5. Kat Kennedy

    I hope she does to, Elena! I’m not sure if I’ll read the next one though. I’m up in the air about it.
    Rebs – It seems people either love or hate this book. I’ve seen precious few three star reviews. Lots of 1 stars, lots of five stars.

  6. Kayto

    The school at the end was the only part I really liked, but only because I felt that it was the start of the actual story. The book felt like a very, very extended prologue. But I really like this review, because I feel that it’s so spot-on. Juliette was such a passive, cookie-cutter YA protagonist!

  7. Fay Anderson

    Honestly why would you do a book review if your only going to hate all the best books. You do reload that your like the only person who hate Cassandra Clare and Lauren Kate. And shatter me is fucking just don’t want to believe it because you couldn’t come up with something so fabulous. I mean her touch kills how awesome is that. And not every one that reads fallen knows about the grigori some of them could be 14 or 15 and it has a awesome plot line and amazing charters.

    • Kat Kennedy

      Poor precious. I don’t hate the best books. I hate books that I feel are terrible books with horrible, shallow characters, storylines and writing. This happens to coincide with books that you like, which is unfortunate.

      There are many, many, many people who dislike both Lauren Kate and Cassandra Clare. But that is a fact of life that you’re going to have to accept and move on with. Go write your own glowing reviews instead of wasting your time and my time reading mine.

      Perhaps you could try some of my 5 star reads one day, when you’re a little more mature, and see where the difference in quality lies.

  8. Sydney

    Listen, you call them garbage characters because you think she is weak and sulks around all day. I get how Taherah is exposing her character as a fragil minded girl but seriously…think of how you would feel as a young child tagged as a monster and killer, your parents ship you off and you live in a cell for years, and all you have is you and your thoughts. Your thoughts though kill you inside with grief and guilt because you know that you killed a baby and liked it. You fed off an innocent and watched it die and wither right in front of your eyes and you still couldn’t make yourself let go. Then all of a sudden you’re taken away from everything you know (which is basically a cell, notebook, and stub of a pencil,) and are basically forced into interacting with other human beings; you’re scared of killing again on accident so you keep yourself disstant.

    If you had read far enough you’d also understand that Warner is not an evl character. He’s a sorry excuse for a villian because he is not. He takes a stray dog in his arms and hides behind a building with it, away from the other soldiers, just to feed him and play with him. He in fact is actually ABUSED by his father; he tries to please him by doing twisted things to stay in his favor. Obviously you don’t know a thing about what PTSD and fear of man looks like. It makes you a completely different person. It scares you, it twists you into doing things you normally wouldn’t do– and in case you’re wondering… I have it. I also do write my own reviews in case you ponder telling me to go write my own instead of wasting my time on here, but here’s the thing someone saw this and is now fearful to try a book which is something that should never happen. Trying a book for yourself is most important, and as a reviewer you should really search for the positive. Because as far as I can tell, she’s also a bestselling author (the new Veronica Roth, Marie Lu, and John Green), if you have a link to a book you have written, please, send it over, I’d love to read it and review it on my blog.

    • Kat Kennedy

      I read the entire book, thanks. And people who are looking to purchase a book, deserve to read a variety of reviews of that book – thus why I wrote this review.

      And lastly, I’d like to see your Reviewer Policing License. Send it over and I’ll be sure to tell you just how far you can fuck off. Mafi seems like a really nice person, but crap prose are crap. Deal with it.

      • Sydney

        Maybe you should read the second book too.

        Just because I made a point doesn’t mean you have to get pissed off. She is a nice person, I met her. She doesn’t deserve to be bashed as a bad writer. Yes, I also understand that she can read whatever reviews she wants, i don’t give a crap, but it would be nicer to also see the positive in a book. A reviewer that will find both the good and the bad in a book is a reasonable reviewer. *flashes badge* Go ahead, let everyone see you say it.

        • Kat Kennedy

          Since I have honestly had this discussion before I’m going to provide a link here as to why you’re thoughtless and out of line.

          Steph has met Mafi a few times. Yes, she’s an extremely lovely person. Her and Randsom Riggs are cute. That has nothing to do with her book. I reviewed her book. She’s a big girl. She can handle it. She doesn’t need you coming in here and throwing a temper tantrum like a three year old.

          Either you’re trying to manufacture drama to get page views, or you honestly are this unbelievably rude, not to mention, uneducated about how book blogging works. Either way, I don’t care.

          Go find some other place to amuse yourself.

        • Steph Sinclair

          Sydney, please don’t make me ban you from this site because I most certainly will if you continue commenting specifically to incite anger. If you wish to discuss the merits of the book in a respectful tone, do so. Notice, however, that I said BOOK. That has nothing to do with Mafi herself. We all agree that she’s awesome, fun, lovely, etc., but this review is about Shatter Me. If you can’t play nice and stick to the topic at hand, I’m going to have to kick you out the sandbox.

          • Sydney

            First off, i wasnt trying to incite anger. I honestly don’t care about whatever that lady says to me. I do care though about what happens when children who feel weak like this character start hearing hate and go kill themselves. Second, i’m not doing it for page views, believe me, i don’t give a crap. Thats why i’m writing you instead of the other person. And the entire thing was about Shatter Me, the point made was that why should you say that it is creative writing gone wrong.

            I hope this is better said. I suppose the person who originally wrote to me, showing me this post, was terrofied to start reading this book and i got a little angry that a book blogger would not search out even the little good in books and make it more of a staple for people to read. Maybe it came off rude, i was not trying to be rude. The second comment…yeah, i was pissed. She told me to F off and i was feeling a little fresh so yes. I replied back like a smartass. I hope this comment is better. If you still feel like banning me, do so. I never come on here anyway.

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