February 28, 2013

A Love/Hate Relationship

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Release Date: November 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 340 pages
Series: Shatter Me #1
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
I have a curse.
I have a gift.

I'm a monster. 
I'm more than human.

My touch is lethal.
My touch is power.

I am their weapon.
I will fight back.

No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever.

Thoughts on Shatter Me
I've probably left this information in a million comments, so I apologize if you know this already. But here goes: when Shatter Me was first released, I was intrigued. The concept sounded interesting, and I kept seeing so many great reviews. However, I was completely turned off by the cover. It just wasn't doing anything for me. I decided to give it a chance, and grabbed it off the shelf at the bookstore to read a few pages. A few strikethroughs later, and I put the book right back where I got it. I just couldn't do it. I didn't like it.

Months went by, and then I started seeing the AMAZING cover redesign for these books. I found them so eye-catching (haha!) - and then they were even prettier in person. So, when I noticed Shatter Me at the library one day, I figured it couldn't hurt to give it one more chance.

For the first few chapters, I was iffy. I liked where Mafi was going with the story, but I just couldn't get past the strikethroughs. I found them almost distracting - they interrupted my normal reading flow and were slowing me down. It was like my eyes wanted to skip over them, but they were actually important and revealing so I was having to force myself to slow down and see past the strikethrough to the words underneath.

And then.

Suddenly, I wasn't struggling anymore. I was falling in love, racing through the pages, unable to keep myself from devouring the story inside.

Mafi's writing is striking and unique and unsettling. It's off-balance and so is Juliette. The descriptions and language are a little over-the-top, but it's fitting. I never felt like it was forced or trying too hard - I just felt like I was seeing inside the mind of a girl who was so many things: broken, confused, lost, scared, angry, hopeful. Most of all, unbalanced. Juliette doesn't have stability in her life, and that's really obvious throughout the book in the way she chooses to express herself.

I know I've barely said anything about the story, but I feel like there are a million reviews that have already covered all of that stuff. I'm just here to say that I was skeptical, and I came into this book with an attitude. I was predisposed to dislike this book, yet I gave it a chance. And I'm so glad I did! This is one of my favorite recent reads because it's just so memorable. I can't think of anything I've read quite like this or written this way, and I love Mafi for taking such a risk. Despite my best efforts, I was completely won over by her words.

I didn't tell you anything about pacing, setting, plot or characters. I know. What a bad review, huh? Here's what I am telling you: I found the strikethroughs off-putting until I didn't. When I started to understand Juliette, they made sense to me. They are as though-out and as important to the book as the plot itself. In this simple way, you learn so much about Juliette and her state of mind. So, if you've been wary of the differentness of this book, I encourage you to give it a chance. You might be surprised if you do!

This beauty of a book is just as amazing inside as it is on the outside. Mafi is a masterful storyteller - placing threads here and there that don't make sense until you take a step back and see the masterpiece as a whole. She has woven together a book with an exciting plot and compelling characters, and I'm so glad I didn't miss it. I feel sad just thinking about the fact that I almost did!

(PS - Team Adam. And yes, I've also read Unravel Me. Stay tuned for that review!)

So Quotable
"I spent my life folded between the pages of books. In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction."

19 comments:

  1. Holy wow, that quote!

    I, too, found the original cover off-putting. The last thing we need are more covers featuring anonymous girls wearing impractical dresses. Still, I recently bought a Kindle copy for something like $1.99, and I've seen so many bloggers whose opinions I respect say that they wound up loving the book that I think I'm going to have to make it a priority next month.

    I admit I'm also totally intrigued by the vehemence with which people are either Team Adam or Team...Warner? Whoever. I know love triangles are at this point beyond passé, but I still love them, and they're even better when they elicit such strong reactions.

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    1. Isn't that quote AMAZINGGGG?! Just you wait, Anna.

      And yes, the original cover was yuck. Just not right for the book at all! I'm excited for you to read this - we will definitely need to discuss. It takes a little bit to get into it at first, but I fell in love once I did.

      Haha! Oh, the love triangle. It's not a triangle in book one because one guy is quite villainous. But then you learn more about him in book two and that's when the tides change. I love how strongly people are reacting to the triangle, too. All the more reason you need to read it and see where you fall!

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  2. That quote is one of my favorites, too. :)

    Like you, I was extremely put off by the original cover. My sister kept raving about Shatter Me, but I just couldn't bring myself to read... Until I went to a book signing with Tahereh Mafi (and Veronica Rossi), and heard her speak. I tested out a couple pages of the book and was intrigued. After the event, I took my sister's copy of Shatter Me home with me. ;)

    (Also? Those new covers are A-MAZING. My sister, for some reason, insists that she likes the original cover better. INSANITY, I say!)

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    1. Isn't that quote the best?! :)

      I recently heard Tahereh speak at a signing (after I'd read Shatter Me), and it really deepened my love for the books. She was so interesting and funny - it actually made me excited just thinking about the books she'll write in the future. Love that you took the book home with you! What a nice sister :) Except, yes, she is insane if she likes the original cover better. NO WAY! The new covers are definitely A-MAZING! Seriously. I love them SO much!

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  3. I'm so glad that you're on Team Adam, even after reading Unravel Me, because I AM TOO. I can't help but love him despite and in spite of everything.

    Also, I am in total and complete agreement about the unique writing style Mafi employed. I think that's the reason why I enjoy her books so much - they're like a breath of fresh air because of the way they're written.

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    1. Go Team Adam! Even though really I think I'm Team Kenji for the win. He's the best character!

      Yes, the writing is definitely like a breath of fresh air! It takes a little getting used to because it's so different but that's also what I love about it. It's unlike any other book I've ever read!

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  4. I agree, that original cover is the WORST. It totally doesn't do justice to the story, or even give a hint as to what it's about. Definitely needed to be changed. Shatter Me is a hard book to get into for sure, especially for those who don't like the experimental writing style. What drew me to it was that it was so different, at least in that perspective. I'm glad you were finally able to enjoy it. I have not read Destroy Me or Unravel Me yet, but I have a feeling I'm going to remain Team Adam as well! :)

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    1. Glad you agree on the cover! This was one series where I was glad they made a cover change, even if it was mid-series. I just wish I could buy a hardcover copy with the new copy! Ugh. Haha!

      It's definitely different! And even though I thought it was hard to get in to at first, I ended up falling in love. I love that Tahereh Mafi wasn't afraid to take risks!

      AHHH! I can't wait for you to read Destroy Me and Unravel Me. SO MUCH GOODNESS! Yay Team Adam :) But don't be surprised if Warner pulls at your heart...

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  5. I keep thinking of buying this book, as I keep hearing SUCH great things about them. And your process of getting into it? Sounds EXACTLY like how I would feel reading all those strike throughs. Hmmm, this review might change my mind!

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    1. Yeah, I had a feeling there would be other readers who would identify with my experience reading the strikethroughs. I'm not sure if you were on the fence and this made you decide to give it a try, but I definitely hope so! If it went the other way and now you're not as interested in it, that's okay too! But I did end up loving it once I got past my initial feelings :)

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  6. This book is seriously like crack. CRACK COCAINE I SAY.
    It's okay that you're Team Adam. He needs some support. :)

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    1. Um, yes. This is totally like crack. At first you're like, "No, I don't want to do crack. Crack is whack." And then you give in and CAN'T STOP. ADDICTION.

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  7. I think I am the only one who was never bothered with the strikethroughs. "Mafi's writing is striking and unique and unsettling. It's off-balance and so Juliette." <-- YES! That's exactly how I felt about it too. The story of a broken girl is so raw and real and utterly gorgeous, and Mafi's prose portrayed it perfectly. And I <3 you for staying on the good side, even after Unravel Me :D Though I am also a big fan of Kenji, and though it would be illogical and probably very confusing, I wouldn't mind Juliette ending up with him either. But that would be weird.

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    1. Mafi's prose DID portray it perfectly! And that's what really made me fall in love with this book and her writing. There was a purpose to the strikethroughs (and to the wacky metaphors/similes) in the way that it developed Juliette's character. AND YES TEAM ADAM. We stay strong and stay together.

      Also, I LOVE Kenji and (like you) actually wouldn't mind if Juliette ended up with him. Haha!

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  8. Now we've got to get you that audiobook! If for nothing else so you can hear the beginning of Chapters 4 and 6.

    Sometimes there isn't anything else left to say about a book that other people haven't already said. I'm interested in the next book, strikethrough-free, WHAT? I like my Juliette a little on the crazy side.

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    1. You're right - I do need to get this audiobook! My library doesn't currently have it (sad) so I'm trying to decide if I'm either going to request it and hope they end up buying it OR just buy it myself. We shall see!

      I agree on the strikethroughs! Now that I'm used to them, I can't imagine reading Juliette's words without them. I do wish that she'd get her act together a little more - I like crazy Juliette but am not loving mopey Juliette.

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    2. Request it!! If you want to hear it, someone else probably does too. I remember being so nervous to request that my library buy The Night Circus in audiobook when it was first released and I just checked a few weeks ago for a re-listen, and there is STILL a hold on it.

      Just do it before you spend the money on it. Then when you re-open your audible, you can get it if you want. Don't be afraid to request! DO IT.

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    3. (what I mean is there has consistently been holds on The Night Circus audiobook since they bought it, which is awesome) Wasn't clear there!

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    4. Okay, you're definitely making me think I'll request it! Thanks for convincing me :) My wallet (and likely my husband) thanks you too haha!

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