Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mafi, Tahereh: Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

November 15, 2011
YA Dystopian, 338 pages
Acquired and read: Through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for a fair and unbiased review; read in a day

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Though Shatter Me is touted as a combination between The Hunger Games and X-Men, I think it's fair to warn you that the superhero factor of the story doesn't really get going until the last hundred or so pages. I do have to agree that the dystopian factors of the story will appeal to Hunger Games fans, minus the love triangle (no opposing Gale, guys - sorry). The main bad guy, Warner, in particular reminds me of President Snow, minus that creepy detail of the blood-tainted breath.

Oh, and Warner's like nineteen. That was another detail that really threw me off. From the way Juliette describes him at first, I was picturing him as a sleazy old man. (Just goes to show you that I need to read a little deeper into my context clues...)

On the whole, I can see why Shatter Me appeals to trendy teen readers. The writing style and plot speed reminded me more than once of Twilight, and the heroine has an appropriate troubled past and unsure future. The world is appropriately dark and hopeless - food is scarce, people are dying and the new government that has promised a solution to it all is more interested in cruel dictatorship than a hopeful future.

However, for some reason, I really couldn't attach myself to this one. It might be the hype; recently, I find that if there's too much media storm around a title, I end up pinning too high hopes on it, and get disappointed when I find that it's not really what I expected. More importantly, there's a lot of strong language (one of my major pet peeves, as you probably know by now) and a few moments of what Hollywood would probably deem "brief sensuality".

Definitely not a PG read in my opinion.

Besides the language, my other main bone of contention was with the copious use of idioms and similes and metaphors that were rather distracting and in some places, quite disturbing. (My personal favorite: "my heart was a water balloon shattering in my chest" - my own heart gave a little uncomfortable lurch at that one. It sounds less like a moment of extreme tension and more like a medical emergency.)

The general conclusion? Not really my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean it won't be someone else's. Maybe I've had too much dystopians for this year...but then again, we're about to go head-on with 2012 and the Apocalypse in a couple of weeks, so we could also take it as a year well spent in preparation.

Warnings: As mentioned before, brief sensuality and strong language.

Final verdict: Not my type of dystopian, but I'm not going to knock it for anyone else.


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