Tuesday, 3 January 2012
Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Well, this time it's on the most talked about book of 2011 - Shatter Me.
Now as always I try to remain tactful when reviewing another book, mostly because I know how hard it is to write, edit and publish a manuscript. An author's blood, sweat and tears literally are poured between the pages, so I'll never discount the amount of hard work that has gone into producing any novel from any artist. But with that being said, we're all entitled to a personal opinion, and my opinion of this book is good, if not a little let down by all the hype that has surrounded this apparent literary masterpiece.
Now I did enjoy Shatter Me. Tahereh Mafi has developed a dystopian piece full of action and drama, built upon the dreary existence of the future and the possibilities the characters may bring to route change for the better.
It follows the story of Juliette, a girl tortured by her own gifts, bound by the physical limitations of her own body and the depressing knowledge that she can never touch another living soul without bringing about pain, suffering and death.
This idea intrigues me, leaves me wondering if perhaps the character would not be so demure and inhibited knowing the power their touch can bring. I found Juliette as the main character to be borderline insipid, yes certainly beaten down and scared by the prospect of eternity alone, but would there not be underlying anger from years of rejection and suppression?
Without giving too much of the story's fundamentals away, I did expect Juliette to be more proactive in her own survival. She seems to rely heavily on her love interest in the story, Adam, almost as if she's forgotten that should she choose, she has complete power over her own destiny. I also found her love for Adam hasty and somewhat childlike. Tahereh Mafi does provide you with background history of their younger past, but perhaps too convenient and simply a stop-gap to keep the story moving forward and invent believably.
Alas, I was a big fan of the introduction of 'Warner' - the captain of the suppressant army, the militant force that currently polices human interests and undoubtedly destroys those that oppose current opinion. I found this character honest, gritty and particularly interesting. Though he is clearly labelled 'the villain' in this piece, I couldn't help but be drawn to him - his steely gazes, unsympathetic nature yet clearly softened heart for Juliette. For me, his part in the story was fundamental and categorically the movement in which kept this novel fast paced and an enjoyable read.
To summarise there are plenty of highs and lows for Juliette as we move through the landscape of the story with certain ease thanks to writing style and encouraging descriptive language. The creative adaptation of scene setting and introduction of new characters uncovers the deeper depths of Juliette's powers and the unsavoury nature of the world's downfall and almost certain upcoming turn in events. I turned the last page feeling as if I'd stepped into a Marvel comic, feeling the inevitable twist in the story line, the certain predictability of good versus bad. Yet I was left wanting just a little bit more - a little bit more of Warner.
I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the book, but it was definitely one I could put down and return to without feeling as if I was uncovering some deep dark secret or rifling through a passionate affair. I will almost certainly read the second book in the series, mostly because I feel it can only get better.
Again, well done to the author for this imaginative and enjoyable read.