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Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

This book is about a girl named Juliette who cannot touch people. She spent the last three years locked in a mental asylum, alone. Her world changes when they assign her a cell mate. But things are never so simple.

I’m going to try very hard to not give anything away. It’s pretty difficult, but I’ll try.

I really liked this book. I liked it enough that my stomach dropped while I was reading it. But it wasn’t because of the story itself. The plot of the novel is simple, predictable, and cheesy at best. However, the characters, while still cheesy and more than a little typical, made me really happy. Nobody is wholly evil or wholly good in this book. Except Adam. Adam pretty much walks on water. But I’ll get to that later.

What really grabbed me was the way Mafi chose to write the novel. It’s not just prose. It’s a lot more like one long poem, with extensive metaphors and beautiful imagery. It took me a little bit of time to adjust to the way it was supposed to be read, but once I did, I got really into it. It sort of just sweeps you along, until you’ve read about fifty pages and haven’t even realized it. It was absolutely beautiful writing. And if there weren’t moments when the plot bothered me, or the characters bothered me, I would have absolutely loved it.

The plot bothered me mostly because it reminded me way too much of the X-Men. Juliette could easily have been Juliette. The only other things I can say is that it has so many parallels to X-Men that it made my head spin, and made me a little annoyed, to say the least. Had Mafi just had Juliette, I would have been fine. Had that been the only parallel, I would have just gone with it. But there were so many that all it did was bother me.

There was also the matter of the cheesiness of Adam and their relationship. I can’t deny that it made me happy. I won’t deny that it made my toes curl a little. I definitely won’t say that I did not let out a very unlady-like squeal and a soft awww while I was reading. I will however say that it annoyed me that there was no variety in their relationship. Everything was sunshine and roses. She never once thought that it was odd, or that he was a little too perfect. And it really bothered me that he was so perfect. I could not find a single flaw with Adam, nothing to make him seem human. I liked him, because he was so adorable, but I was wondering when the perfect persona would end. I kept expecting there to be some kind of flaw with him, or something that made him human, and I couldn’t find it. I wanted him to be human, and it annoyed me, to no end, that he was absolutely flawless.

I did, however, really like Warner. Weird thing to say, considering how creepy and cruel he was. But there were times I felt bad for him. And I think that that may have been the purpose of his character: an absolutely evil person, who is ridiculously selfish, and only has power on his mind, is someone you can feel bad for. (Obviously I couldn’t tell you if Mafi intended for the reader to feel this way; I’m not a mind reader). It didn’t justify his actions; I still hated him most of the time, and I found him repulsive. But I liked that I felt that way. Had he been a genuinely like-able character, I wouldn’t have continued reading. I wouldn’t have wanted him to die so badly (not a spoiler! Just a feeling). But I liked that I still felt bad, and even sympathized with him at times. That’s what a villain should be like; almost entirely evil, misguided, and screwed up, but who you can still sympathize with or recognize that they’re still human. All Warner wanted was for someone to love him, to feel like he belonged.

I also liked Juliette. She was not weak or strong, but somewhere in between. She was not confident in herself, which made me sympathize with her more. Mostly, she was realistic. She seemed human. Even when her abilities made her seem more than human, she was still human-like. The only critique I had of her was that I wish she had been more independent from Adam. She was too dependent on him, too absorbed in him to focus on anything else. And yeah, I understand why (spoiler if I told, so I won’t.). But that didn’t make it any better.

This is definitely a young adult romance. I would not recommend it for adults who are used to reading biographies. Divergent fans might enjoy this, as would Hunger Games fans (although it’s not as good as the Hunger Games). I would also not recommend this for anyone who does not like romances, or is below the age of 10. There is mention of sex, although it is more implied than anything else, but the writing is a bit difficult to read at first. I will say that you should read it; despite it’s shortcomings, it is still a fantastic book. I enjoyed it a lot while I was reading it; it was just when I was starting the second book that I realized how basic and annoying some of it was. But I’ve already said that. Definitely read it. It’s very good. If you like romances, especially young adult ones, chances are you’ll like this one. 

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