Literary Friday: Shatter Me

Synopsis according to Goodreads:
"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."



By its blurb, Shatter Me sounds very cool. Insanity, dystopian, superpowers, and a unique writing style filled with strikethroughs ought to make for some compelling, tension-filled, surprise-at-every-turn storytelling.


It ought to. But it does not. And here's why:

+ Tahereh Mafi writes some interesting, poetic metaphors. And some redundant, just plain silly metaphors that sound like she's a first year Creative Writing student who is trying too hard to sound special. 
And the problem is, the entire book is like this: metaphor, dialogue, metaphor metaphor metaphor, repeated words for an entire page, dialogue, metaphor.

+ There is conflicting information about the world, presented via data-dump by the main character (who has been imprisoned for conflicting amounts of time, and whose knowledge of this amount of information about the world is supect). 
At first, I thought "Aha! Very clever...this is going to be a case where, because she is insane, the main character is creating her own reality! Joke's on us!"
But nope- the misinformation and data-dumping is apparently just how it is.

+ OK, then, what about the characters? Insanity, superpowers, romantic tension...that's got to be juicy!
Except that Juliette continues to be a chihuahua who thrives on panic in her every waking thought (so you get all this dramatic emotion, constantly, where every little thing is OMGLIFEORDEATHWAAAAH!).
The other characters? A mustache-twirling type of villain, a shallow "gorgeous" boy...and honestly, I'll just stop there. You can't care about these characters, because they lack depth, empathy, or subtlety.

+ What about the writing style?
The strikethrough concept, done stream-of-consciousness style, is pretty nifty. We all censor ourselves, so seeing that on paper makes Juliette slightly more relatable.
But the prose...*sigh* 
It's so purple it makes my eyes cross. I like metaphor, and even florid writing, but only when it serves a purpose (i.e. much like cussing, if you do it all the time it becomes meaningless and simply annoying).
Plus, the amount of grammatical errors she makes is distracting. 


As you can tell (*ahem*) I had a lot of issues with this book...a book that is a best-seller, and part of a series, and has people lovingly devoted to it. So I wanted to explain exactly why I dislike it so vehemently. 


If you want compelling, disturbing stories about insanity, read I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, or When Rabbit Howls. If you want compelling, disturbing stories about dystopian futures, read Not A Drop to Drink, 1984 (which, by the by, most modern dystopians use as their cornerstone), Divergent, etc.

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