I’ve decided to write about the “Shatter Me” series by Tahereh Mafi.
If you are even slightly familiar with the new YA releases of the past years , you might have noticed these books as they were really hyped and very well sold and gained some sort of popularity among the young dystopia readers, even only for their extremely beautiful covers and rather intriguing titles. Containing a total of three novels – “Shatter Me”,”Unravel Me” and “Ignite Me”- and two novellas – “Destroy Me” and “Fracture Me”, sold separatedly but also together under a new title – “Unite Me” – the series follows a basic narrative line of the genre – young girl with super powers discovers her inner strength and understands that her really messed up world is not that messed up so she saves it and so we have a nice ending for everybody.
What actually makes the difference here and constantly overpowers the plot itself when it comes to meaning and importance are the characters and the writing style that actually manages to save this whole story from two potential threats that the plot typology itself implies – 1. a non-human-lacking-a-heart-or-a-conscience type of heroine and 2.a fast-paced but very dull narration.
I can confess that, while the plot was mostly intriguing, kind of familiar at times, but not truly fascinating, and the world building was not underdone, but, once again, bore the main characteristics of the basic dystopian universe, what I really really enjoyed about this book, leaving alone the unique reading experience that the beautiful writing style was generating, was the wonderful character growth. Seeing the protagonist, Juliette, overcoming her huge fear of herself and crossing the path to confidence and dauntless self exploration was very enjoyable as, at first, we are placed in the head of a very scared girl who is unable to hold herself up or to understand her true identity.
The romance included in this book was enjoyable because of the amazing way in which it is approached. I mean , the author has to deal with the perspective of an unable to decide 17-year-old hormonal girl and does it in a way that should be praised – instead of weird cliche type of things, the relationships develop in an intense way, but we get our insight of it deliver in metaphors and wonderful quotes to write on a sticky note and place right in front of your desk. Yes, it might be cheesy for some, but it is undoubtedly beautiful and the feelings that this book deliver are various and palpable and the visuals the author creates are amazing.
On the other hand, as we evolve through the series, it is easily noticeable that the writing style slightly changes and, by book 3, new characters are introduced and a new type of humor and over all optimism replaces the initial despair that was radiating through the pages , so I found myself laughing out loud while reading these books and earned a couple of odious gazes from normal people.
This was it for the absolutely spoiler-free review, not even the synopsis is included above because I really recommend you read this book without knowing what to expect because it will make the whole thing a lot better. So if you don’t want to be spoiled, even slightly, I suggest you stopped reading right now, because I plan on further analyzing the books individually and I don’t want to be the one to destroy some innocent’s reading experience.
“SHATTER ME” – Book No.1
“I am nothing but novocaine. I am numb, a world of nothing, all feeling and emotion gone forever.
I am a whisper that never was.”
Remember when I said that the visuals are amazing? Well, here you have some sort of proof and a very very nice but utterly depressing quote. So.
This novel basically follows the story of Juliette, a young girl with a super power, that being that her touch is lethal. Obviously, not being ever touched by anybody else has led to a horrible childhood, ostracization and a whole deal of social and psychological problems that scarred her deeply and really attacked her fragile balance. The fact is , in the book present tense, Juliette is held in this creepy asylum for people with mental health issues and hasn’t talked to anybody for 264 days when a cellmate is brought in – a boy she knew from her school years, maybe the only friendly human being she had ever encountered.
What happens next, the ways people want to use her as a weapon in their sick war and how she earns the ability and the strength to fight back, is included in the fast paced full of full news and occasional humor of the last two thirds of the book.
The writing reflects the characters issues very well – it is incoherent at times,
there are passages cut like this showing her lack of stability and confidence that makes her reluctant to accepting her own feelings or thoughts.
“I always wonder about raindrops.
I wonder about how they’re always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. It’s like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn’t seem to care where the contents fall, doesn’t seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the drops dare to tap on their doors.
I am a raindrop.
My parents emptied their pockets of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me
When in comes to book no. 2, “Unravel Me”, the main feeling I can recall when thinking of reading the first part of the book is a mild form of frustration because we are somehow introduced to some sort of an “America Singer” situation (if you read “The Selection”, you know and understand the struggle of a young woman who can’t bring herself to decide between the two corners of the love triangle) and also we have to face Juliette’s inability to embrace her power and shape it so that she can help her new people , but these two elements are inserted in a way that generated empathy and understanding and a whole new level of attention to the shape shifting process Juliette’s mind goes through.
Without going much into the plot itself, I really want to point out the highlights of the book for me, at least, starting with the new level of world building that proved itself satisfying when talking about credibility in this book – the fact that we learn some basic things about the way the Energy works and have a great insight on Omega Point’s way of existing is great. Also, Juliette’s translation to new, powerful individual is delightful in the same way discovering what lies under all the layers Warner has surrounded himself with struck me as a revelation. But, for me at least, the most enjoyable proof of Tahereh Mafi ‘s great talent was Kenji. He is, for sure, my favorite character in this series the way humor and strength and intuition and super powers are linked to shape such a personality is beyond my comprehension. He is the main reason for which the depressing element o this book is way more ameliorated than the first one’s, and that is great for character building, the way I see it. All in all, it was a really enjoyable read and defined the arc on which the story goes -it gave me the feeling that the final point of the books was to bring out and highlight Juliette’s strength and any human being’s potentiality , in fact, to put himself or herself up and build a broken self into a new powerful one.
“Loneliness is a strange sort of thing.
It creeps on you, quiet and still, sits by your side in the dark, strokes by your hair as you sleep. It wraps itself around your bones, squeezing so tight you almost can’t breathe. It leaves lies in your heart, lies next to you at night, leaches the light out of every corner. It’s a constant companion, clasping your hand only to yank you down when you’re struggling to stand up.
You wake up in the morning and wonder who you are. You fail to fall asleep at night and tremble in your skin. You doubt you doubt you doubt.
why won’t I
And even when you’re ready to let go. When you’re ready to break free. When you’re ready to be brand-new. Loneliness is an old friend stand beside you in the mirror, looking you in the eye, challenging you to live your life without it. You can’t find the words to fight yourself, to fight the words screaming that you’re not enough never enough never ever enough.
Loneliness is a bitter, wretched companion.
Sometimes it just won’t let go.”
— Tahereh Mafi (Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2))
there went another emotional yet really beautiful quote 🙂
The time has come to talk about the last book. Which I really enjoyed but which didn’t quite fulfill my expectations – I feel like I need more of an explanation or a “Mockingjay” sort of epilogue or anything,for that matter, that can make me understand.
Don’t take me wrong, it was a good book. It made me feel something and I think that for such book there is the point, in feeling something. But. But. It also left me waiting for more and maybe the story required an open finale so I’m going to go with it. Moving further to the actual content of the book, I can say it was even , balanced and fulfilled my predictions when it came to the great magnificent development of Juliette’s power and her relationship with Warner turned out really beautiful. All in all, it was a good final book – not a spectacle of feelings and emotions and rage and the huge war I was expecting, but a novel that did leave many doors opened and many questions to be further asked, but in the refreshing way of inciting your imagination to a great extent.
I still had some issues with the relationships around here, tho, because they turned more and more twisted and I couldn’t actually forget their initial abusive tendencies and it was kind of creepy in the end if you analyze it retrospectively – some people seem to love how the romance in these books turned out and I am not the person to argue but I didn’t come here for the romance in the first place anyway.
So, all in all, I’d sum all this huge block of text up by saying that I really enjoyed reading this series, it had one of the most unique premises I’ve met in a while, the writing style so so beautiful and some of the characters very well formed and rather nice people to spend my last couple of days with , but I didn’t blow me away. I recommend this to anybody who finds joy in YA dystopias – like “Divergent” , for an obvious example- and can stand a girl very poetically talking about her feelings.