Outside of the characters’ relationships, I’m kind of lukewarm when it comes to the plot in this first novel. I love the various people’s interactions, but this dystopian storyline didn’t blow me out of the water. Particularly when I got to the end and I kind of felt like I’d stepped into X-Men: First Class. But if you aren’t a fan of X-Men, this probably isn’t a problem! If you are a fan, it helps that it’s not an exact replica of that world, and no story is going to be 100% original. To me, it’s a balance: if a story falls short in one way for you, sometimes you’re lucky enough to have another part make up for it.
Earlier in this post I spoke of Juliette’s love of words. Understandably, Tahereh Mafi shares this love, as is evident by the writing she introduced us to in her first novel. Metaphors and similes pour from her fingertips and they help to create a rich and sensational world…until it starts to be a bit too much. There are only so many times there can be a million breaths in a moment and the need to swallow down the butterflies threatening to burst out of you, y’know?
I’m oxygen and he’s dying to breathe.
She also purposefully shies away from grammar, which in certain scenes can be effective, as you feel swept up in Juliette’s emotions and the passion or turmoil she’s experiencing. But to me, after awhile it became more distracting than moving. The strikethroughs were also a new literary tool; they often helped reveal Juliette’s true thoughts and fears. I feel similarly about them as I do the grammar and metaphors; to a point, they’re different and interesting. Then they started to make the story feel weaker, because it was an easy(bordering on lazy, sometimes?) tool to spell out everything to the reader. I personally feel that if Tahereh had used these mechanisms a little more sparsely, the story would have been even more powerful and engaging.
Having re-read Shatter Me after devouring the novella and sequel made me like the story more, I think. But my feelings on the writing didn’t change, and perhaps even grew a little stronger. I think that Tahereh is already better at balancing some of the things I found frustrating, so I’m excited to see where she goes from here.
Now that I’ve gone all over the map with THAT, I’ll wrap it up for today. Tomorrow or Wednesday we’ll talk Destroy Me and then we’ll end the week with Unravel Me. I know I’m probably in the minority with my Shatter Me feels, so I’d love to hear yours! If you’ve read the sequel already, did it make you feel differently about this story? Tell me everything, bibliophiles, and have a wonderful rest of your Monday!