Monday, February 5, 2018

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

It's not easy being Queen of Literary Trash. Between YA and bodice-rippers, I read more "bad" books than most elitist snobs will see in their entire lifetime. But then, I consider myself a connoisseur of the so-called trashy arts. There are two kinds of "bad" books. There are the books that tell good stories and while they aren't highbrow literature, they are still fun to read and if you can let go of your snobbery long enough to enjoy them, will perform quite serviceably as quality entertainment. Then there are the books that are just bad, and have no redeeming value at all.

I had friends warn me about SHATTER ME. It's apparently infamous for the "creative" metaphors that the author likes to use. It's also yet another attempt to cling to the coattails of THE HUNGER GAMES (although it's more like DIVERGENT than THE HUNGER GAMES, which if you know my thoughts on DIVERGENT, you will know is not a compliment, coming from me). The premise is pretty undeveloped. Juliette has been in captivity for just under a year when she accidentally killed a boy by touching him. Her touch, you see, is deadly. She's like Rogue, from X-men. One touch, and your life force is hers.

It's set on a dying Earth but why and how it's dying are incredibly vague. We've apparently allowed a fascist-tolerant (if not outright fascist) regime to gain power, which I would say is not really giving the world a whole lot of credit, but on the other hand I'm a liberal living in the United States right now, so on the OTHER hand, maybe future Earth is totally stupid enough to do that. It seems to happen a lot in YA dystopians, to the point where the reader begins to wonder if all it takes to start a fascist regime is a kickstarter and a special license. What matters is that resources are thin and there is not a lot of food and there are parts of the world that are radioactive(?) and for some reason, some people (especially Juliette) have mutant-like powers for Reasons and this is the world we live in.

Both love interests are, conveniently, immune to Juliette's power. Because I guess it wouldn't be much of a romance if the book took the MC Hammer "Can't Touch This" approach to courtship. There is instalove up the wazoo in here, and even when Juliette finds out that Adam was put in her cell to spy on her under the guise of being a fellow prisoner, she forgives him stunningly quickly, and is constantly telling us how much she wants to touch him. She wants to touch the villain, Warner (I'm sorry but I can't take you seriously when I'm picturing the dancing frog mascot of the WB), too, although it's a traitorous body sort of desire to touch, the I-love-to-hate-how-I-hate-to-love-you type. Warner was the biggest potential sell of this series to me because I love villainous love interests but he's too creepy, even for me. Between the constant unwanted pet names and the really disturbing "I could just take a bite out of you"-type comments, this dude was about one villain notch away from singing a Tim Curry song.

Then there's the writing itself, which can be broken down into three categories: OMG, WTF, and LOL.


Every organ in my body falls to the floor (68).

I want to rip up the carpet and sew it to my skin (163).

My jaw is dangling from my shoelace (310).


I'm wearing dead cotton on my limbs and a blush of roses on my face (6).

There are 15,000 feelings of disbelief hole-punched in my heart (40).

My throat is a reptile, covered in scales (172).

I'm blushing through my bones (326).


I wondered if your eye color meant you saw the world differently (151).

My heart is parasailing in the springtime (286).

The author also makes two other attempts at being creative, which are overuse of the strikethrough tool and overuse of numbers, written as numerals instead of being spelled out. Which, if you ask me, is 1 bad idea because not only does it look unprofessional as 0 other writers do this, but 2, comes across as overly gimmicky and makes you feel like you're reading cast-offs from a teenager's poetry journal as she tries - and fails - to channel Ellen Hopkins and/or Rupi Kaur.

If you like this book, good for you, I guess. I personally couldn't stand it. It felt incredibly derivative, and from the woe-is-me beginning to the yay-I've-got-a-hypersexualized-supersuit ending, there was just way too much I ended up side-eying in this book for me to enjoy it. I don't think I'll be reading the sequels, not even for the lols.

1 out of 5 stars

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