Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Otherwise Known As: A Big, Fat, Teen Porn X-Men Ripoff of Who Cares?

So, this was the subject of Bookdorks Challenge #1. And I really, really hate to give it a bad review. Why? Well, because so many people apparently like it, including my sister, and because I generally like to agree with everyone or I start feeling like there is something wrong with me. And, I really hate giving bad reviews, because if I learned nothing else during NaNoWriMo it is that writing books is damn hard, ya’ll. And also, because it wasn’t bad exactly…it was just…eh.

So why didn’t I love it? Maybe I’m too old for it. I’m certainly NOT the target audience, but usually I like YA, though not always the fantasy kind. Maybe I was just too critical of it from the start. After all, every time I complained about it, Kelley said I had to get past whatever it was and keep reading. Maybe it’s because my expectations were high since everyone else seems to love it. Or maybe I just didn’t want to like it ENOUGH because it’s like the paranormally, teen drivel I’m so tired of seeing everywhere. So maybe it was just me…

Or maybe. Just maybe. It was these things:

The characters weren’t likable at all. Juliette was BORING. And also very probably crazy. She wasn’t the slightest bit likable or even relatable. And since it was clear she was really inclined to use her powers for evil, AND HER OWN PARENTS DIDN’T LIKE HER, it was hard to feel bad for her even a little bit.  All we know is she has powers and her parents abandon her…that’s it. Not very compelling as a lead character. As far as Adam goes, he was also very poorly drawn. He had no personality (oh, except that he was gentle, see below). I find it hard to believe that he ditched his little brother to join the army to save a freak girl he barely knew. He’s just one-dimensional and it’s not even an exciting one dimension. And then there is Warner, who was a sadistic bastard but the only character I felt I could actually like! He was the only one who had any motive or character and he was supposed to be the bad guy! Not sure what that was about.

The author tries too hard to make the language eloquent. And when, she does, oh how she does! I will not lie, some of the more metaphorical, poetic lines in this book made me drool. I can’t help but feel blissful when I read lines like “I’ve been a slice of silence, struck, shocked, cut deep by this reminder.” And: “Realization is a pendulum the size of the moon.” And: “I’m an old creaky staircase when I wake up.” And: “His lips are spelling secrets and my ears are spilling ink, staining my skin with his stories.”  Of course, that last is blatantly sexual and from yet another of one of Juliette and Adam’s many make-out sessions. Alas, sometimes YA just reads like mediocre porn for teen girls. Sigh, I AM old.

And for every good line like those, there are the bad…oh, the woefully, predictably bad. “The paper is a crumpled wad of possibility.” Yeah, really? And what does that mean exactly? …And back to teen porn again: “I want to taste the landscape of his body.” And the meaningless: “I’m an encyclopedia full of too many blank pages.” ZZZZZZZZZZ.

It has too many cutesy, nontraditional things. I LOVE when authors, and people in general, find new ways of using old words. However, I absolutely hated how many times Juliette uses gentle as a verb. “Adam gentles me onto the soft mattress…” and “gentles my hands down by my torso” and “his eyes gentle…” Barf. Once I could have accepted, beyond that…just no. She also uses the word gentle in no less than eleven traditional adjectival ways, always to describe Adam. Blargh. This 11 brings me to the random numbering Juliette does. Apparently, to kill time, she counts things. It’s phony-feeling and ridiculous.

I DID really like the creative use of strikethroughs to show what Juliette was thinking versus what she LET herself think. I thought that was effective, if only to show us that she was an unreliable narrator that wasn’t even honest with herself in her interior monologues. Again with the crazy.

The X-Men ripoff. Okay, I hesitate to bring this up because it feels a little unfair, but it also bothered me for the whole novel, so I kinda have to. So the author said she didn’t even know about X-Men in its various book, comic, or movie forms until after she’d written it and her brother or someone said…”Oh, so your Juliette is like Rogue.” Hmm, funny, that’s what I was thinking through the whole damn thing. And, since X-Men is very prevalent in pop culture and I suppose the author hasn’t been living under a rock for 20 years…ahem, let’s just say that seems convenient. And I couldn’t get past it. I just couldn’t get past the lethal touch being EXACTLY like X-Men’s Rogue, especially when Juliette and Adam go through a nuclear wasteland (oh, and become mutants?) and then end up in Omega Point with a leader who can do crazy telekinetic things. Heck, Castle even admits it! “I have an impossibly advanced level of psychokinesis,” he says. And your first name must be Xavier, or maybe Professor, right?

Bleh. Add that to the fact that the book moves at a snail’s pace at times and then skips over what seem to be whole sections of important info (hello, Juliette-the-unreliable again) and well, what you have left is Shatter Me. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a bad book. It just wasn’t an incredibly GOOD book, either. Sorry, Kelley :/

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