Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Shatter Me

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
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Juliette Ferrars has been away from her parents for 3 years and incarcerated for over 260 days. Then one day, Adam Kent, a boy she knew as a child, appears. Thus begins an avalanche of activities that lead to Juliette escaping and learning to embrace her powers.

NOTE: I received this through the Amazon Vine program.

I want to clarify one thing, right off the bat. This is not a dystopian. This book is clearly a romance, set in a vaguely dystopian (i.e. highly stereotypically oppressive) society. More time is spent on Adam and Juliette canoodling than actually doing anything about the supposedly bad society around them.

I didn't walk into this book expecting it to be a masterpiece, but neither did I open it thinking I would dislike it. But as soon as Adam Kent, Love Interest, appears on PAGE 3, I knew I was in for a stinker. This book is shameless; it doesn't even try to act like it is anything other than a dressed up romance story for teens (meaning lots of steamy scenes, minus actual sex). The characters end up being boring as hell or wimps, the story is nonexistent and feels like a ripoff, and the dystopian society feels like diluted version of 1984.

Juliette is our protagonist, and God, does she have a complex. Yes, she's been captured, but she is constantly acting like a wimp, clinging to her boy toy to have him do EVERYTHING to her. Towards the end she improves, but even that feels odd. A few hours with guns means she is that much more relaxed about using them? I don't know where that came from. Also, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at how her parents were explained away, so that Juliette could be all alone. There are lots of parents who have children with disabilities that don't do what Juliette's parents did here. Again, the only reason the parents were painted as so callous, was to allow Juliette to run around and not have to explain where her parents were.

Adam Kent is the most boring love interest ever. He is a set of muscles and abs, that's all. Of course he falls in love with Juliette because she is "so selfless" (i.e. doormat), and he wants to rush in and save her (which he is able to do with stunning simplicity at times). Some attempts, such as the inclusion of a widdle brother (who acts nothing like a 10 year old, but instead like a 5 year old--I don't make that complaint very often!), are made to make him more interesting, but all fall flat.

Kenji Yamamoto made me groan. His role could be summarized as "Comedic Horny Teenager" (plus some handy Deus Ex Machina). He hits on Juliette, to prove to our audience that, although she doesn't feel pretty, she actually is. But somehow, what is even MORE annoying is the racially insensitive joke about his last name. Another very minor character, Winston, apparently thinks that Kenji's last name is "too hard to pronounce, so Winston calls Kenji "Moto". My jaw literally dropped when I read that; I can't believe something so racially insensitive got passed the editor (even if Juliette thinks what Winston does is wrong). This doesn't belong in a book aimed at teenagers.

Maybe I'm a twisted being (actually, there is no "maybe" in that), but I thought the only good character was Warner. Despite all his cliched 100% EVUL villain traits, I thought he was interesting and the only character to make any sense. I wanted to know why he wanted Juliette, what he planned on using her for, and what his history was (what was the bit about his mom??). Too bad the book never bothered to answer any of those questions--that is for the sequel (and you know it's coming!) to do.

The story is bland. It's trying to be Hunger Games/1984 with some X-Men, but none of that really comes into play until the last 50 pages. This is why I didn't bother to mention Juliette's lethal touch ability above--sure, she angsts about it, but ultimately, her superpower doesn't help her in anyway until the very end (view spoiler). Also, it felt like it was ripping off Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children--similar "mystery", similar "finding an orphanage of highly talented children", similar weird talents. In this case--and I totally didn't expect to say this--I would PREFER to read "Miss Peregrine" than this book. Yes, folks, I would rather read about a whiny, over-privileged brat finding a magical land and leaving his parents than read about a wimpy doormat girl falling in lust with a beefcake boy in a dystopian society.

The dystopian society is laughable. I don't understand how the Reestablishment could take over and cause all these bad things in so short a time. I love how flinging around things like "one language", "writing is illegal", and "people don't have food" make up a dystopian society. It used to be time was spent creating the atmosphere--take a look at 1984 or The Handmaid's Tale! Both books take time and patience to build up their worlds. And neither of them had some stupid kiddie romance thrown in for giggles.

The writing isn't horrible, though the metaphors most of the time don't make a lick of sense (or are buried within metaphors like a Russian nesting doll), but I was confused by some of the strikeouts. If this is a journal that Juliette is writing in (which is odd, as it is first person present--PLEASE authors, stop writing in first person present!!), then why does she mark out dialogue? If it isn't a journal--what's with the strikeouts?

Oh, and what is WITH the weird cover?! It looks like a supermodel walking down a runway--NOTHING in this book bears any resemblance to this cover art!

So I think it's clear I didn't like this book. You may wonder why I bothered to finish it, and I have two reasons: This was an Amazon Vine ARC, so I felt obligated to finish it, and I am a completest.

If you want to read a fairly clean (no sex) romance book with a hint of dystopia, then this is your book. If you want a young adult book with a real dystopia, good characters, and an interesting story, I would skip this. Even with their individual faults, I would recommend both Divergent or Blood Red Road over this.
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Reading Progress

11/07/2011 page 1
0.0% "I am on a reading high after reading a deliciously wonderful book...on to the ARCs, which may or may not be disappointing..."
11/07/2011 page 5
1.0% "Hot boy? Check. A girl who believes he won't hurt her after he stole her pillow, blanket, and bed? Check. Inconsistencies (why take away an earring, but leave a pen?)? Check. This is going to be a long book." 3 comments
11/08/2011 page 43
13.0% "Shameless...they don't even TRY to hide the fact that Adam is the Love Interest, and I'm only 40 pages in. I'm just going to pretend that Adam is Juliette's (Juliette?!) lust object...she's just horny and attention deprived, not in lurve."
11/08/2011 page 47
14.0% "I am utterly confused--what year is this? If she was 14 when she was taken away from her parents, spent less than a year locked up in, how can she be 17? And what kind of pseudo-dystopian society is this anyway?"
11/08/2011 page 60
18.0% "Okay, hold on a minute. Juliette is a whopping 17. The way she talks about this pseudo-dystopian society it's as if she's in her 40's. How did this change happen so quickly? What is with the stereotypical baddies? How is this simpering wimp "feisty"?"
11/09/2011 page 93
27.0% "Actually contemplating abandoning this. I probably would if it weren't an ARC. This is just ludicrous."
11/09/2011 page 109
32.0% "Someone please write a rebellion story where the rebels are the actual bad guys. kthnxbai"
11/09/2011 page 122
36.0% "Okay, wait a minute. Did I miss 100 pages? Juliette and Adam are ALREADY at the "I can't keep my hands off you" stage? (Not that they haven't been since page 3!!!)" 5 comments
11/09/2011 page 126
37.0% ""Lucky for you, I'm willing to be patient. Though it certainly doesn't hurt that you're so alarmingly beautiful." Why am I not effing surprised? Of course, Juliette is absolutely gorgeous AND refuses to wear beautiful clothes. Those are Cliches #478 & #191!!" 9 comments
11/09/2011 page 150
44.0% ""The sun and the moon have merged and the earth is upside down. I feel like I can be exactly who I want to be in his arms" Oh PUH-LEAZE!!!" 5 comments
11/09/2011 page 160
47.0% "Geesh, what a doormat protagonist!!"
11/10/2011 page 223
65.0% "Ah, all our children live parentless on a street and the Reestablishment does nothing because they are BAD. Isn't that Cliche 372?" 1 comment
11/10/2011 page 255
75.0% "Ugh, someone please kill Kenji. Why must books and movies put in stupid characters like him? It isn't funny." 3 comments
11/10/2011 page 271
79.0% "Why do protagonists waste so much time talking when they should be running their @sses off?"
11/10/2011 page 293
86.0% ""I'm going to memorize every inch of your body with my lips." Wait a minute, who switched my sappy, dystopian-romance with a bodice ripper???"
11/10/2011 page 302
88.0% "OMG, SERIOUSLY?!?! Add "Racially insensitive" to the list of bad things about this book. "So what's 'moto' mean?" "It's just a nickname--his last name is Yamamoto." "Why do you chop it in half?" "Because it's hard as hell to pronounce." SERIOUSLY?!!? "Yamamoto" is probably one of the easiest to pronounce Japanese names. (And no, it's not better that Juliette calls Winston out on his hypocrisy!)" 2 comments
11/10/2011 page 314
92.0% ""he begins, his broken words thick with a British accent" Please, don't be so specific. It's hurting my brain."

Comments (showing 1-33 of 33) (33 new)

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message 1: by K. (new)

K. I just read Carrier of the Mark, and well...yeah, I don't have anything left to say.


Crystal Starr Light K. wrote: "I just read Carrier of the Mark, and well...yeah, I don't have anything left to say."

From the reviews I've seen, looks like another Twilight clone. Loved your review of it... :)


message 3: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Great review, Crystal.


Crystal Starr Light Stephen wrote: "Great review, Crystal."

Thank you!


message 5: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Nice review! (Well, you know what I mean. Heh.) Thanks for taking a hit for the team. *sigh* I really wish more publishers would push for YA that's not predictable & shallow & the same damn story re-warmed fifty times over.

I recently went through my wishlist on Goodreads & culled half the YA on my list. It's gotten so I refuse to buy anything that has a whiff of Twilight or woobie dystopia.


Crystal Starr Light Sarah wrote: "I really wish more publishers would push for YA that's not predictable & shallow & the same damn story re-warmed fifty times over."

I agree! I guess they figure, if X story made a ton of money, carbon copies will make just as much. Even when I was a kid, I eventually got tired of the Boxcar Children/Babysitters' Club "wash rinse repeat" formula. Why would kids today be any different?

I need to go through my to-read list again; I think I've got loads of this kind of "been there, done that" story.


message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I've got other YA/urban fantasy crapola on my bookshelves that hasn't even made it to my Goodreads index. But I'm going to set up a swapping account & get rid of it that way -- at least then I can earn points for stuff that won't make my eyes cross. Heh.


Crystal Starr Light Sarah wrote: "I've got other YA/urban fantasy crapola on my bookshelves that hasn't even made it to my Goodreads index. But I'm going to set up a swapping account & get rid of it that way -- at least then I can..."

I was thinking about doing that with some of mine too! In the past, I was selling them to a used bookstore, but I don't get nearly enough for them (maybe a few dollars store credit--although, given the books I've read, better than nothing).


message 9: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Hee! I work at a used bookstore (well, we have about 50/50 used & new stock) but I don't usually take my own books there because we can only spend credit on other used stuff. But some GR friends use Paperback Swap & they all love it.


Crystal Starr Light Sarah wrote: "Hee! I work at a used bookstore (well, we have about 50/50 used & new stock) but I don't usually take my own books there because we can only spend credit on other used stuff. But some GR friends ..."

The used bookstore I've sold stuff to does both, but gives you more money if you use store credit. I'll have to look into Paperback Swap, that might be a good option to go!


message 11: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Someone else rec'd the new inter-Goodreads swapping program, but I haven't looked into it much. They both sound like a good idea; I just might set up an account here & PBS too.


message 12: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen Oh, so this book is another disappointment. First Hunting Lila and now Shatter Me... What is it with YA novels and wimpy heroines obsessed with boys?

Thanks for writing such a thorough review; I will be moving this book down on my to-read list, if not removing it.


message 13: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Sarah wrote: "Someone else rec'd the new inter-Goodreads swapping program, but I haven't looked into it much. They both sound like a good idea; I just might set up an account here & PBS too."

As I understand it, Goodreads has dumped the swap program. I don't recommend Bookmooch, there's little follow up for deadbeats who don't respond timely to requests, let alone mail the damn things. I like paperbackswap.

Good review :)


Crystal Starr Light Jen wrote: "Oh, so this book is another disappointment. First Hunting Lila and now Shatter Me... What is it with YA novels and wimpy heroines obsessed with boys?

Thanks for writing such a thorough review;..."


I know, is it so hard to make a female protagonist that doesn't go weak in the knees over a boy and has to have him save her all the time? Ugh!

Misfit wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Someone else rec'd the new inter-Goodreads swapping program, but I haven't looked into it much. They both sound like a good idea; I just might set up an account here & PBS too."

A..."


Oh, that's a shame--what was Goodreads reason for not continuing the program?

And thanks!! :)


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Misfit wrote: "As I understand it, Goodreads has dumped the swap program. I don't recommend Bookmooch, there's little follow up for deadbeats who don't respond timely to requests, let alone mail the damn things. I like paperbackswap. "

Humbug! Their loss, then.

And I've heard the same thing about Bookmooch from other GR friends. Sounds like PBS is the way to go.


message 16: by Sarah (new) - rated it 1 star

Sarah "I want to clarify one thing, right off the bat. This is not a dystopian."

Usually, dystopians are opportunities to examine important moral issues, and they can be opportunities to create strong female protagonists, but this novel failed spectacularly on both counts. Factor in an insultingly derivative plot and the bizarrely florid language and you have the recipe for either a blockbuster or a very expensive and embarrassing failure. Which one Shatter Me will turn out to be remains to be seen, but I can't help but feel readers, particularly teen readers, deserve better than to have this poor excuse for a "dystopian" shoved down their throats with a bloated marketing campaign.


message 17: by Crystal Starr Light (last edited Nov 15, 2011 02:15PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Crystal Starr Light Sarah wrote: "Usually, dystopians are opportunities to examine important moral issues, and they can be opportunities to create strong female protagonists, but this novel failed spectacularly on both counts."

That is exactly what I love about dystopians. I love the creepy atmosphere, the portent of evil, the constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure Big Brother isn't there.

This slew of YA "dystopians" misses the mark so bad. It's like the publishers saw the success of The Hunger Games, went, "Oh, it has a dystopia and a romance, that's what's popular" and greenlit every author who wrote anything vaguely dystopian with a romance. The authors throw around some words about restrictions without taking care to think about the society they are creating (or worse: They carbon copy a real dystopia like Brazil, 1984 or Brave New World), but definitely make sure to detail every aspect of the Hero's abs.

I know a lot of people go, "It's for teens, it doesn't matter", but I would hate to be the teen that was raised reading this crop of fluffy books. I read my share of fluffy teen reads, but I also read a slew of really good books, books that I still enjoy today.

And I can't believe that this book already has a movie in progress. How can these publishing houses get away with that? Selling movie rights before the book is even in the bookstores?


message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Crystal wrote: "And I can't believe that this book already has a movie in progress. How can these publishing houses get away with that? Selling movie rights before the book is even in the bookstores? "

Seriously?? That's just...beyond the pale. *headdesk*

I've not read much dystopia, YA or otherwise, but just scanning the blurbs for all these eyeball-rolling-romances is enough to curdle my stomach. And if a reluctant sci-fi reader like me can see the repetitive, nonsensical, house-of-cards 'wallpaper dystopian' nature of these things, surely that's a sign of wasted paper?


Crystal Starr Light Sarah wrote: "just scanning the blurbs for all these eyeball-rolling-romances is enough to curdle my stomach"

Same here. And I thought, when I picked out this book from Vine, that I might avoid it. But you know how those cover blurbs can be :P


message 20: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Crystal wrote: "And I thought, when I picked out this book from Vine, that I might avoid it. But you know how those cover blurbs can be :P "

*thinks of WITHER*

Curse those professional blurbers who make things sound interesting when they're not! *shakes fist*


message 21: by Ali (new)

Ali Great review but....how could you not address the cheesy lines!?


Crystal Starr Light Alioh wrote: "Great review but....how could you not address the cheesy lines!?"

LOL, I realized, after I wrote this, that I totally missed out on what many others call "great, rich writing". While that may have worked for others, for me, I found many of the lines to be completely out of the ballpark insane. There were so many descriptive phrases, and half of them didn't make sense. The way that Adam and Juliette talked about each other just got old--"I love you so much", "I love you more!", "Well, I love you more than that!". (Not the exact phrases, of course, but that's the way I felt after reading it.) I think I just burned all but the vague memory of disliking them (and feeling they were overdone) out of my mind.

Thanks for reminding me!!


message 23: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana Fantastic review. I just finished this and had the same feelings but you were waaaay more generous with your star rating. I had a serious problem with Juliette-where is her agency? Girl does absolutely nothing by herself throughout the entire book. And Adam read like a cartoon character with his eyebrows and his two pieces of lips forged together and whatnot.

I haven't read Miss Peregrine but I think your comparison is interesting. The blatant X-Men ripoff is what stood out most to me (Rogue = Juliette, Omega Point = Xavier's Home for Gifted Youngsters). Mafi didn't even bother to add her own twist to Juliette's power or a unique dynamic to the school. Dear Ms. Mafi: Marvel wants their plot back. kthxbye


Crystal Starr Light Tatiana wrote: "I had a serious problem with Juliette-where is her agency? Girl does absolutely nothing by herself throughout the entire book."

Thank you for your kind words!

I was shocked at how little Juliette did anything (besides wax metaphoric). And then, at the end, it was like, "Guns are awesome" and she's wielding it like Rambo. Huh?

As for her love interest...yeah, definitely not feeling him. I really hate love interests whose only purpose (if they are male) is to save our wimpy "spunky, free-spirited" protagonist. What kind of a message does that show our young women? "Wait around looking pathetic, a guy will save you?" Screw that, I'm saving myself! :)

I've not read/watched a lot of X-Men (other than the first movie), but I can definitely see what you mean. It's a little blatant; couldn't Mafi do anything to make it her own? Maybe she will in the next book, but I am so not going to bother with the sequel. This was enough.


message 25: by Haya (new) - rated it 1 star

Haya Crystal wrote: What is it with YA novels and wimpy heroines obsessed with boys?


Hear hear! This trend really needs to die.

Great review, Crystal. I think you really summed it up in one word: bland.


message 26: by Marg (new) - rated it 1 star

Marg K. Great review! It made me think of other things I also hated about this book. Like vilifying the parents just to explain them away and to give the reader more reason to feel sorry for Juliette.

And I can't believe for one second that both her parents & the authorities wouldn't be able to think of any other solution to deal with her deadly touch besides locking her up in an asylum/prison. Also, I totally didn't buy Warner's explanation that he wanted to use Juliette to torture people since it would be more efficient than other methods. Oh please, there are several quick, effective ways to cause excruciating physical pain (no whiny, wimpy girl with superhuman powers required).


Crystal Starr Light Marg wrote: "I totally didn't buy Warner's explanation that he wanted to use Juliette to torture people since it would be more efficient than other methods. Oh please, there are several quick, effective ways to cause excruciating physical pain (no whiny, wimpy girl with superhuman powers required)."

I hadn't thought of that before, but you are so right! Why bother with a superpowered girl when all she does is whine and complain? People have been torturing each other for years; they don't need a speshul girl to revolutionize the process.


message 28: by Rebecca (last edited Feb 16, 2012 11:28AM) (new)

Rebecca Huston This does sound pretty dreadful. Dystopian societies are rather difficult to write, if you don't know what one actually is. Or seen it with your own eyes. On a lighter note, wouldn't being locked up with Juliette a form of torture to listen to?


Crystal Starr Light Rebecca wrote: "This does sound pretty dreadful. Dystopian societies are rather difficult to write, if you don't know what one actually is. Or seen it with your own eyes. On a lighter note, wouldn't being locked u..."

Really good dystopian societies take careful thought and effort to construct. I keep going back to it, but Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, and Atwood's The Handmaid are how you write a dystopian. In this book, it's pretty obvious the author spent more time building up this clingy, lustful "romance" than on the worldbuilding. I guess it wouldn't be a problem for me, if the book was marketed as a romance with slight dystopian elements, but instead, it is marketed as the next Hunger Games.

Ugh, being locked up with Juliette would be a living nightmare. Reading this book and all her wild, disparate, overdramatic thoughts was absolutely nuts. (I realize belatedly that my review makes no mention of the numerous bonkers metaphors that populate ever other sentence.) I do not see why other reviewers have called her a "strong" character.


message 30: by Kimiya (last edited Jul 09, 2013 03:32AM) (new)

Kimiya Kamalabadi Heck, I'm just baffled—was there a way to give birth to Juliette without her having touched her mother as a baby...?


Crystal Starr Light Such a good point, Kimiya!! At least the book "Jenny Pox" (whose main character has the same touch problem as Juliette) freaking EXPLAINS how Jenny was born and has her mom die in childbirth!


message 32: by Ploy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ploy I'm reading this right now and I feel exactly the same way towards our protagonist. I want to leave this book, but I always complete what I read. Looks like it's going to be torture.
Divergent over this. Definitely.


Crystal Starr Light Ploy wrote: "I'm reading this right now and I feel exactly the same way towards our protagonist. I want to leave this book, but I always complete what I read. Looks like it's going to be torture.
Divergent over this. Definitely."


These "faux-topias" or "romance-topias" are a riot, honestly. They bear so little resemblance to the greats who established the dystopia genre - Aldous Husley, George Orwell, etc. Even though I have problems with the Divergent series (enough that I won't be reading the final book), it's definitely better than this faux-topia.


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