I recently had finished reading Shatter Me, Unravel Me and Ignite Me, a trilogy written by Tahereh Mafi. Here are some thoughts and comments about these books, while they are still fresh in my mind.
I decided to read Shatter Me series after I stumbled upon it on the GoodReads website. This book had incredibly good reviews,nd pretty high ratings, so I decided to go ahead and order a whole set for myself. I regretted doing so after I got through the first half of the first book.
Shatter Me (2011)
I have to say that the first few chapters lured me in and I was fascinated with the story and the writing. I thought that it was very different and out there. But that got old very quickly.
You see, this book feels like it was written by a child. More precisely, a child that had just learned how to use a thesaurus. Some chapters were merely a collection of metaphors that did not add to the story, but just simply sat there making no sense and taking page space.
"My jaw is dangling from my shoelace" and "My stomach drops onto my knees".
What does this even mean?!
Now, from the synopsis we can understand that Juliette is most likely insane, due to her imprisonment and her traumatizing past. So from one point of view, all the weird writing techniques contribute to her state. But while reading this novel, somehow, it is hard to fully reflect and understand that.
Catherine from Wuthering Heights was completely insane (heck all of the people from that book were) and it was portrayed and delivered to the reader clearly. What I am saying is that, I can appreciate and understand the want and the need to make something different, to create a unique style of writing. But I think the writer had definitely overdone it with this book. Something that might have started as unique and different ended up being a complete gibberish mess.
If you were to cut down on repetition of words, words, words and take out synonyms, synonyms, synonyms and get rid of all the metaphorical nonsense - this book would be barely half it's size.
There are not that many characters in the first book.
We start out with the main character, Juliette, and for a couple of chapters you like her and sympathize with her.
Then towards the middle of the book she turns into a puddle of a whiny, idiotic and delusional mess and you want to shoot her. Even when it seems that she might pull out of her "I am so pathetic I cry myself to sleep" phase, she then turns around and becomes even worse.
It is very hard to tell if she is completely lacking any personality, or if her personality is so bad that you would rather she had none.
There is Adam, who is very unrealistic, for no self-respecting guy would act as he does. He is also very blah. The combination of him and Juliette becomes quite unbearable to read.
here is also Warner, who is portrayed as a villain, but he is not doing a very good job at being one, though chapters with him were the most rewarding.
From the firs pages the plot is very good. It is interesting, it is different, there is a good back story about Juliette's childhood.
Then she meets Adam, and somewhere near the middle of the book the plot gets completely lost amidst two ridiculously horny teenagers.
Is there a rule somewhere that says that a young adult novel has to have a steamy almost sex scenes in it? One scene would be fine. But how about, I don't know, seventeen??! It gets old people, and quickly.
Not fully to the author's fault, it's just all of the modern dystopian YA novels have it. For once I would love to read a novel that does not have teenagers rubbing their genitalia against one another in it.
And why, once again, dystopian novels only focus on a 16-19 year old teenagers? But that is another topic entirely. However I absolutely loved the message behind this book. Their world was destroyed by our horrible living habits: environment gave up, government only wanted money and work force from people, rich people getting richer and poor getting poorer.
Unravel me (2013)
Not much has changed in writing style from book 1 to book 2. It just feels very stretched out, as if trying to meet the word count requirements, but not finding what to fill it with.
Juliette got nowhere. She is still that same annoying, whiny and ridiculous girl. It is quite hard to read, actually.
It is like watching a 5 year old roll around on the floor crying for candy. That is if that 5 year old would stop just for long enough to make out with it's boyfriend.
Her every thought, and every move, and every word is so overly exaggerated it is laughable.
Adam, well I lost interest in Adam somewhere around the beginning of this book. He is just not a good character. Also it felt like the writer knows nothing about boys, or male gender in general.
In this book they do not act like boys, but more like girls on their first period. Hormonal and extremely dramatic.
Now Warner on the other hand was getting more and more interesting. I honestly kept reading mostly for his story line.
Kenji, who was introduced at the end of the first book became my complete favorite, as he was a nice breather amidst all of the "romance" drama that was going around.
Instead of talking about a very slowly unfolding story line I would like to talk about things that irked me the most in this book.
Selfishness of a main heroine. Juliette is far from a heroine you want to admire, she is quite the opposite. Besides her lacking an actual human personality, she is incredibly selfish. There is a war going on, people are dying and while other members of the Omega Point are doing their hardest to help with the big picture, Juliette's thoughts are only focused on when is she gets to make out next.
Which brings me to another point, her sexuality. I think that the book brings a horrible image of a teenage girl, who has no respect for her own body and is willing to sleep with somebody she literally just met.
And the most damaging thing in this book is the physical description of the main characters. They all are: perfect, beautiful, handsome, perfect bodies, muscular, sexy, smoldering etc. I am sorry, but was there no room in this dystopian world for normal and average looking people? I understand that this is what 90 percent of society wants to see and be, but I thought that writers write books to change the world views for the better, not push them deeper into the dirt. I think that TV has enough of this nonsense already, no need to bring it into the books.
Ignite Me (2014)
This is the book where everything changes. The writing has been cleaned up, and it is very pleasant to read.
After the first two catastrophes of a book, I was a little ashamed to admit that I could not put this one down.
I also understand that the writing style has changed due to the main character evolving, and basically not being insane anymore. It goes with the story and it makes sense, but I think that if the whole series have been written like this, it would have been much, much better.
Juliette, oh Juliette. I gave up on you in book two. You remained selfish, whiny and, total and complete idiot till the very end of the book two. But from the first pages of Ignite Me she was changed. Reborn. Quite literally.
Now Adam on the other hand, you will want to shoot him. I know I did. But, surprisingly, his "new" demeanor fits incredibly into the story.
Kenji's character remained great till the very end.
And Warner, well let us just say that this book should have been about Warner. Great background story and great redemption, with minor annoying set backs, but hey, we all got those.
Despite the cliffhanger and a bit of a rushed ending (all trilogies seem to have this problem) this book was quite good. If I did not read through and got to the 3rd book, I would not have recommended these series. But as I did, I have to say that the last book made it worth for me. Sure it was cheesy, quite predictable and very "x-men" like, but it was still good. I also thought that it was ironic that most trilogies seem to start fantastic and completely degress by the third book, while this one was quite the opposite.
This is my extensive review of Shutter Me trilogy. I know this book has very mixed reviews, some people really hate it, some people really adore it, and some people are stuck somewhere in between of those two. I think that I am somewhere in between.
Freelance BETA reader.