Wednesday, 25 January 2012

review: Shatter Me

by Tahereh Mafi
HarperCollins, November 15, 2011
young adult dystopian

Juliette's touch is lethal. The Reestablishment wants to use her as a weapon. Adam, the blast from her past boy who is her destiny, knows she is not a monster, even though Juliette herself isn't sure. To figure out who she is, what she is, Juliette must look to herself while on the run to find out what she will become.
Sorry. That's got to be the wussiest summary ever. I definitely wouldn't pick that up off the shelf. But a summary is only what the plotline makes it, yes?

The cover:

A water sprinkler disguised as a Kardashian. Though these were two separate ideas I found on the Internet, they totally fit my idea of the cover. The light effects are snazzy, yes, but the girl-in-the-dress is a tired, tired trend. Unless they're trying to come up with a new trend -- girl-in-the-bunched-dress? Makes me sad, because from what I heard Harper sunk a tonne of time and money into this cover.

The book:

Foreword: I am so relieved I didn't intensely hate this one.

Shatter Me's main draw is the writing. For the first four-sevenths of the novel, Juliette tells her story in strikethroughs and fragments, imitating a stream of consciousness. The reader is up close and personal with Juliette, leaving it a great relief that our protagonist isn't unlikeable. However much Juliette cries, she stays on our good side thanks to her strength against Warner and her (reputed) kindness.

The uniqueness of the writing fades, becomes more like your average writing after the halfway point. That's also when the typical running-away-from the bad-guy scenes begin. The requisite thrills and chills are present, but there's nothing original about them. Oddly enough, there's a distinct lack of violence; beyond two gunshots and one example of Juliette's ability, the proportion of actual gore isn't representative of the brutal force the Reestablishment is made out to be.

The romance between Juliette and Adam is a True Love relationship, we're told right off the bat. Though it won't convince discerning readers, thanks to Adam's 2Dness, it's a normal enough romance (e.g. no lechery, no pedophilism) that you can safely ignore it without feeling uncomfortable. However, what isn't possible to ignore are pieces of imagery like the one below:
Hate looks just like everybody else until it smiles. Until it spins around and lies with lips and teeth carved into the semblance of something too passive to punch.
What the heck does that mean? While most of the time Mafi's writing enhances, there are moments when her imagery goes too far, as shown here.

Overall: not too bad of a book. One can most definitely see why people are singing its praises. Suitably fitting for the Year of Dystopia (aka 2011).

Rating: 3 out of 5