Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Book 3: Shatter Me
For the publishing industry, it can mean the difference between a book that is lost in a sea of novels, and a book that's in your face at every turn.
Shatter Me is one of those books.
I've followed Tahereh Mafi's blog for a long time and have been hearing about Shatter Me for almost as long - though admittedly, I had no burning desire to read it other than to support the blogging community.
That is, until I began reading the reviews of the advanced reader copies (ARC) - and Mafi's publisher kicked up the publicity. Suddenly Mafi was talking about Shatter Me on MTV, and Harper Collins was devoting an entire social media day to the book. Everywhere I looked, someone was talking about Shatter Me.
I couldn't help but get sucked in. Was in fact desperate to get my hands on a copy, and even entered blog contests to try and win an ARC.
The trouble with hype is that in the end, you've got to be able to deliver the goods.
Did Mafi? I'm kind of straddling the fence.
I have a serious case of writer envy. Shatter Me defies genre - part literary, part supernatural, part romance, part commercial, part something I don't even know how to explain. I wouldn't even know where to slot this book except on the bestseller wall, because that's clearly where it's going to end up.
Mafi writes with such compassion and conviction (and blow-you-away talent) you're not just reading the story of Juliette and Adam, you're in Juliette's head. Deep. I know Juliette - I felt her pain, her sorrow, her joy, her love. Even after I finished the last page, I'm still thinking about her, and replaying some of the scenes in my mind.
The problem is, I didn't particularly like Juliette.
She's a 17-year-old girl banished to a prison-like cell because she's been deemed dangerous. Her touch is actually lethal, and for her entire life, she's never felt the warmth of embrace. I can't even imagine that, let alone even begin to understand how anyone could deal with that kind of physical power. But Mafi writes with such brilliance, I "got it" in the first few chapters. Unfortunately the "I'm a monster" mantra carries on for almost the whole book and it gets a little long in the tooth.
Somewhere around page 100, I lost sympathy for her. Thankfully, there's Adam to pick up the slack. Their chemistry is fabulous, and I (mostly) bought their love story. Adam ranks fairly high on the hot teen hero scale. High...but not at the top.
I also enjoyed the dystopian future setting, and the rise of the Reestablishment - despite the heavy Hitler-esque undertones.
I'm still mulling the story over in my head, which means I haven't quite decided whether I loved the book. But I'm very clear on how I feel about Mafi's writing. It's brilliant. She's brillaint. And I'd pick up another novel by her in a heartbeat.
Sidenote: I practically pushed Karen into reading this book, marking it her first of the 100 Books in 2012 Reading Challenge. She wasn't quite as smitten :-) Check out her clever review here.
The Book In My Bag Today: Survivor in Death, JD Robb