Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi
Shatter Me is one of many in the dystopian YA romance genre. It is the first book of a 6 book series and it wasn’t quite as promising as I’d hoped it would be.
The book is told from the perspective of Juliette, a 17-year-old girl whose touch is fatal. Having accidentally caused the death of a boy a few years back, Juliette has been locked up the Reestablishment – the government that had taken control of an Earth rapidly hurtling towards destruction. Locked up alone for almost 3 years, Juliette’s life is turned around when she’s given a roommate one day. A boy named Adam Kent. With Adam’s arrival come a slew of changes that transform her life forever.
To say that this book is unworthy of being called a book would be rather unfair. It definitely had a start and I do remember there being somewhat of an ending. But when I try to think about the plot and the middle of the book, I appear to have developed amnesia. It seems to have kinda sorta floated and simply vanished into thin air. If, after reading the book, you believe it to have had a plot, that is either an accident or the providential result of your having read this review, for the author certainly spared no effort to strip the book of even a sliver of a plot.
It’s as though the elements that make the start of a book—such as, introducing the characters and their backstories, the world the story is set in, were all stretched to fill up almost half the book. The author then took the elements of an ending and stretched it to fill the other half. The middle of the book, the part where there’s a mystery or an adversity to be overcome, or the creation of a plan, a twist, or the building of dynamics between the characters — were all simply not there.
At least one-third of the book simply focuses on Juliette, alone in her cell. Following that, every other chapter has 3-4 pages of Juliette’s emotions and feelings, which, for some reason, NEVER seem to change. They revolve around her feelings of self-hatred, depression, and uh…, yeah, that’s about it. The other pivotal characters are Adam, her new cellmate, and Warner, the acting head of the Reestablishment. Adam swings between an almost overbearing protectiveness and emotionless obedience to the government. Warner, on the other hand, has an unhealthy obsession with Juliette and the only time he takes a break from his almost stalker-like behaviour is when he’s establishing his dominance over everyone else by showing stone cold cruelty.
It’s quite obvious by now that none of the characters are capable of expressing more than two emotions throughout the entirety of the book because that would be IMPOSSIBLE, OF COURSE, DUH! The overwhelming vibe of doom and gloom, mostly from Juliette, makes you want to smother yourself.
Most protagonists are usually unbearable, but Juliette definitely takes the cake. The romance is rushed, and the instant attraction and love makes me barf because it’s so cringe worthy. Like, okay, yes—Adam’s the first person to show you sympathy and he’s the only bright spot in your doomy and gloomy life, but THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO ACT LIKE A LOVESICK PUPPY, JULIETTE! Hello?!
To be fair, most dystopian books have somewhat of the same background and similarities, and that can’t be helped. But there has to be at least something that makes it stand out from the rest of the pack. Apart from an interesting premise that peters into something that made me question what I was thinking when I picked up the book, this had almost nothing unique to offer, in my opinion. The series has been blowing up on Booktok and has RAVING REVIEWS from LITERALLY EVERYONE. Maybe the rest of the series gets better, but I HIGHLY DOUBT IT. It seems like the very unstable plot is spread across 6 books. NORMAL series, on the other hand, consist of books where each one has an actual plot that connects with the other books. Those series are actually enjoyable AND MAKE SENSE.
Based on the first book, I don’t think the Shatter Me series is it for me. However, if you do want a trashy Wattpad story that sounds like it was written by a tween, then this book would definitely be your cup of tea.
© 2023, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.