Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi: Steph’s review

As Sara mentioned in her review, there is a firestorm of hype surrounding the release of Tahereh Mafi’s debut, Shatter Me. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but this reader feels most of the hype is deserved.

The most “striking” thing readers will notice is the use of strike-through by our main character, Juliette, to edit her own thoughts. While this could have been gimmicky, Mafi does a great job of using it judiciously to show readers Juliette’s ravaged and self-doubting state of mind. She uses it less and less as she becomes more confident and rebellious over the course of the book.

The second thing readers will notice is Mafi’s use of stream-of-consciousness style of writing and accompanying hyperbole. (If this all sounds like an English lesson, don’t worry, we’ll explain in upcoming posts!) The result is that we get Juliette’s unfiltered thoughts–even when she self-edits with strike-through. She tells us what she’s thinking–or trying not to think–and how she feels.

For example:

I claw at the panic, I swallow the agony, I beg myself not to look in his direction but I fail I fail I fail.

Of course, there is a drawback to all this telling: it’s not showing, and rule number one in writing is “Show, don’t tell.” While reading, I hardly noticed all the telling. I was too drawn in by the fast-paced plot and three-dimensional characters. Going back, I can definitely see where the telling would bother some readers.

For me, the most interesting part of the book was the smarmy villain–Warner. Sure, he’s an egotistical you-know-what with a thirst for blood and power, but he’s also broken. So broken that when his needy side shows through, readers will want to fix him (if that’s even possible).

Meanwhile, Juliette is acclimating to the outside world, the Reestablishment and what it wants with her and the “disease” it sees as a gift. Juliette faces a number of monumental decisions, the least of which is whether to trust the soldier ordered to guard her–the soldier she remembers as a young boy with secrets of his own.

Shatter Me is in stores Nov. 15.

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