So, Shatter Me has a pretty good premise, but oh, oh the execution. First of all, why are all the YA haters out there so busy (still) whining about Twilight and failing to warn unsuspecting readers about the writing in this book? I'm just going to lay it all out on the table here, and say that some of the writing in the early stages of Shatter Me is just beyond cringeworthy. Sure, there's the device that the book takes the form of Juliette's journal, and she tends to cross out a lot of things and revise her thoughts. That actually didn't bother me at all like it seemed to bother a random smattering of readers. Rather, I wished that Mafi would have elected to strike through more sentences and spare me this continuous overabundance of overwrought hyperbole that often actually jolted me out of the narrative to either laugh, read it aloud to some poor innocent wandering through my field of vision, or pick up one of my eyeballs after it unceremoniously rolled out of my head. But wait, how about I'll just show you?
Here's a quick sample of the sort of writing that makes readers like me go, "Wha??"
My heart is a water balloon exploding in my chest. My lungs are swinging from my rib cage. I feel as though every fist in the world has decided to punch me in the stomach.Her heart is a water balloon. Her lungs are, ouch, swinging from her rib cage. Gross. And fists! Fists are personified and have better decision-making skills than I do. Wait, I have another! This one's my favorite, and I now occasionally bleat this at unsuspecting bystanders for my own amusement.
I'd like to cry into his eyes.
You what? You want to cry into his eyes? What does that even mean?
Okay, so maybe you're the sort of reader who can overlook the rampant hyperbole, but then you run into the problem of Juliette. She's a sympathetic character, without a doubt. I mean, she's a nice girl with a surprisingly fantastic moral compass whose parents essentially decided she was a monster and gave her to the government to do what they will with her. When she wants to help people, she kills them. Human companionship is not really available to a girl whose touch is dangerous. She cares about strangers and loathes herself and the curse that she lives with every day. However, throughout the course of the book, she reveals herself to be irritatingly reckless, her mouth just goes and goes when it should stay shut. Her ramblings definitely fail to reveal even the slightest hint of the brave or thoughtful heroine you hope to materialize in a bleak dystopian world. Indeed, she can't shut up long enough to make sensible decisions about who to trust. Sure, she's sympathetic, but for someone whose touch can kill she's also a serious wimp.
Now for the surprise ending. Finally at about the two-thirds mark, Shatter Me takes a turn for the better. The action picks up and gets Juliette out of her own twisted head for a while to this reader's great relief. Bravery and strength start to work their way into her character at the last possible moment, and it becomes apparent that she's only just scratched the surface of her power. Then the book wraps up with a tantalizing plot twist and...well. Then I, with just the barest hint of shame and self-loathing, pick up the second book in the series hoping against hope that this series will turn out the opposite of Divergent and wow me with the end instead of the beginning.
(No disclaimer, I bought this!)