Full Review : Shatter Me (#1 in Shatter Me Series) by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me

Series : Shatter Me
Volume : #1 of 6+
Year Published : 2011
Genre : YA, Romance, Sci-Fi, Dystopian

Edition : Audible Audiobook
# of Pages : 338 Pages (Paperback)

Summary

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.


Review

There are many mixed reviews of this series online so I went into it with a great deal of uncertainty. It shaped up to be pleasantly surprising and a very solid first entry that had me wanting to read the next book immediately.

This is a dystopian YA with a focus on romance, but attention is also paid to the main character’s unique powers, tragic past, and deeply damaged psyche. She’s a girl who has been kept in solitary confinement for almost a year, and prior to that was treated like a leper by her own family and larger community.

She expresses her thoughts and feelings in a very poetic way, the prose is flowery and sometimes lovely- and sometimes dark and sinister. This may be a somewhat unpopular opinion but I found Juliette (in this first book) to be a fascinating character. Sweetly innocent and misunderstood, but also clearly left with some form of derangement from her captivity.

I consumed most of this story in audiobook format. I really need to read more books that way, as I suspect that listening to this one rather than reading it vastly increased my enjoyment of the story and characters, and made the sometimes over-the-top poetry easier to consume.

The audiobook narrater, Kate Simses, has a distinct voice and a flare for capturing diverse emotions. Her depiction of Juliette is just fantastic, capturing the character’s innocence and darkness in equal measure. I like how the main antagonist (possible love interest?) Warner has a mirthful, passionate tone even when he’s technically an insufferable bad guy. Kenji’s sense of humor is spot-on, and her child voice for James is adorable. Long story short, this audiobook clicked just right for me and gave the characters much-needed dimension.

There is the beginning of a love triangle developed here. I’m usually indifferent to love triangles but I thought Shatter Me’s setup is exceptional. Juliette is a gentle, misunderstood character who comes across as having a good heart. She’s also a weapon of destruction who could use her powers for evil. The love triangle presents a similar conflict, you have the “good” guy, Adam. Childhood friend and protector. And then the “bad” guy, Warner. A deranged, power-hungry antagonist. I found the extreme differences between the two to be entertaining. Warner does some truly awful things. But in a twisted sort of way, I wanted to see more of him and the chaos he inspires within the plot. Speaking of drama, the writing style is so overwrought with that and full of intense, often exaggerated and flowery emotions. This is the love-it-or-hate-it essence of the book. I fell into the love-it camp.

The dystopian side is adequately presented and somewhat intriguing, but nothing too remarkable. Just an entertaining sort of guilty pleasure novel overall, but a sequel should definitely expand into broader plotting and more characters.

My rating for this one is perhaps excessively high. This is by no means a perfect book or one that I think everyone should or would want to read but I rate based off of personal enjoyment and this one was through the roof for me.

Rating – 9/10

Why You Should Try It – Strikingly unique writing style, love triangle with diametrically opposing characters, unusual heroine. Must-try if you have any interest in enemies-to-lovers. Has a great audiobook. Some of the flowery and poetic prose can be pretty.

Critique – The writing style is definitely not everyone. A lot of people seem to hate the heroine as she can be melodramatic and emotionally frail. Warner is problematic. While I liked some of the poetic descriptions, there were definitely some awkward passages.

Shatter Me (Amazon Link, Paperback and Hardcover) Shatter Me (Audiobook)
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