Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Book Review

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Book Review

Shatter Me is the first in the Shatter Me trilogy, a series that was incredibly popular a few years back. It’s still fairly popular among the teen fantasy lit readers. There are plenty of similar series out there, but I’ve had this particular one on the radar for a long time due to the number of reviews and I was quite excited to get to it. Harper Collins | November, 2011 | Kindle Edition | 357 pp

It’s a future world that has succumbed to environmental destruction. The weather patterns change in the blink of an eye, the crops no longer grow, animals are dying off, the sky is devoid of birds, and the economy has tanked. In the wake of global disaster, the fascist Reestablishment has taken over and promised to right the wrongs, clean up the planet, and return the good life to its people. Instead, they kill, turn people into slaves, and keep all of the wealth for the few with guns.

The book opens with young Juliette in prison where she’s been for almost a year. In this dystopian world, some people have been altered. Juliette can kill with a touch and she hates herself for it. Her parents have given her to the Reestablishment after she accidentally killed a toddler she was trying to help. In the asylum, she hasn’t spoken to anyone in months and she waits to die while hearing the screams coming from torture rooms.

But one day a young man is pushed into her cell, a new cellmate. His name is Adam and he’s covered in tattoos. At first, he seems cruel – taking her bed and sheets. But after she shows him the ropes he warms up to her. She ignores him, but not really. As she writes in her diary over and over, we learn that she knows this boy. He had been with her at school, and he used to be a friend.

It was a sham and Adam is one of the guards assigned to spy on her, make sure she can work with others. Brought out of solitary, Juliette is brought to Warner, the young leader of his sector. Warner is fascinated with Juliette and wants her to be by his side, using her powers to interrogate, torture and kill. And it’s the last thing she wants to do. She fights him at every opportunity.

Things change when she has a moment alone with Adam and he lets her in on the truth. He surreptitiously joined the service to look for her. And he had plans to help her escape.

I have to admit, I was severely disappointed. There are three main issues for me: 1) The plot holes. Juliette talks about her mother and father suddenly realizing her ability to kill with a touch. What about when she was born? Didn’t her parents ever pick her up? Did her mother ever nurse her or kiss her goodnight? No mention was made if her lethal touch was a spontaneous development or if she had always been deadly. Perhaps it will be covered in the next books. 2) The insta-love. I don’t care how you spin it, sudden mad love never works for me. In this case, they were old friends and the passion exploded upon seeing each other for the first time again. Just no. 3) The writing style. For much of this book, especially in the beginning, Juliette repeats words over and over and there are run-on sentences without commas or proper punctuation. I understand that this was an attempt to illustrate Juliette’s fractured state of mind, but it bothered me.

Rogue X-menThere were some cool moments that I didn’t expect such as the sudden display of Juliette’s other gifts without warning.

However, her ‘superpowers’ and the combination of the end reveal turned this series into a watered-down version of the X-men where Juliette plays Rogue. Juliette’s persona mimics that of Rogue so much (kills with a touch, wanting to be touched but can’t, wanting to be rid of her powers, wanting to be normal, hating herself, etc.) that I have to wonder about the lack of originality.

Shatter Me is the first in an X-Men style dystopia with a jarring writing style to reflect inner turmoil, a style that won’t work for many. I didn’t hate the book. I was just underwhelmed. I still plan on reading the next two in the series and I’ll be hoping for the best.

Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

Rebecca Skane

Rebecca Skane is the editor-in-chief for the Portsmouth Review. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and resides in Portsmouth, NH with her husband and two children. She is the founder of The Portsmouth Book Club which boasts over 1,000 members. She also doubles as a professional escapist.Her genres are scifi and fantasy, both adult and young adult - but she often reads outside of her preferred genres. You can follow her on GoodReads.Aside from her love of good books, she is a professional website developer, content editor, and SEO expert. You can visit her web design and development site at

  • I am one of the worst about using run on sentences. I tend to type just as I would talk to a person, and I can have the tendency to ramble. Plot holes and run on sentences are a problem in novels, but that is nothing to me compared to using words over and over again, or insta love. I loathe both of those. YA so often includes insta love. I have argued with authors who think that because a lot of young people fantasize about falling in love suddenly and ferociously, that it is appealing to them in books. That may be so, but I would prefer the author to deliver reality when it comes to love and save the fantasy for where it belongs.
    Wonderfully informative review.

    • Thanks! My hopes were dashed this time around but I’m still a fan overall of the YA fantasy/scifi genre.

      • That’s good to hear. I wouldn’t let one disappointment change my reading preferences either.

  • I read this book a long time ago, but I do remember the series getting better. That’s all I really remember though. I believe the the third was my favorite because that was where everything came together for me. Hope that you enjoy the rest of the series! 🙂

  • I’ve read this book a few weeks ago and I agree with all your points. I’m still curious to read the sequels though.

    • I am curious as well and once I start a series, I usually do see them through. I’ll find out soon enough. 🙂

  • I haven’t picked this book up yet for all the same reasons you mentioned that stick out. However, I’ve been told that the writing style improves significantly as the books continue on. That said, I don’t know if I could get past some of the believably issues…

    • It was strange, it was almost as if it written for younger YA but obviously not with the strong physicality in the relationship. I have the next two ready to go so I’ll find out soon. Thanks!

  • This one is on my TBR but I was also getting some Rogue-ish vibes from the MC and I haven’t really pushed to read this one. I also really dislike Insta-love and have issues with plot holes. 🙁

    I’m sorry this one was so disappointing but I do hope the series gets better for you!

    • Thanks, Di. I plan on finishing the series next week if all goes well. Hopefully, I’ll have better news to report.

  • Annette Mills

    I have read too many reviews of this book just like yours. Didn’t hate it, but had problems. It used to be on my list, but with so many other “must reads” on that list, I’m not sure I’ll ever get to this one. It has never been very popular in my high school library either…

    • I know how you feel. This was fairly high on my list – I love series. I’m a sucker for them. But it really was a random selection since I have about 20 must-read series on my TBR list.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    That future world sure sounds like something that could come true.

  • I was a bit meh about the first book too, but the next two books are much better if you decide to read them. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    • Thanks, Zoe! I think I will be finishing up the second book tonight. I have my fingers crossed.

  • This one has been on my TBR for a long time as well. A friend of mine loves this series to death but I have never found the time. I’m sorry you were dissapointed!

    -Jordan @

    • Thanks, Jordan. It happens. I do love YA SFF – it is normally my favorite genre. It’ll happen from time to time.

  • Wren

    I’ve heard a lot of similar opinions about this book, particularly about the writing style. I was going to read it, but honestly now I’m not so sure, especially since I have so many other books on my to-read list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Wren @

    • You might want to try the first few chapters, just to see. Because I have seen a lot of reviews from people who really liked the writing style. It’s definitely a taste thing. Thanks, Wren!

  • I tried to like this book, most people I knew that read this book loved it. But like you I was very underwhelmed by it. I found the writing style interesting, but the story as a whole was too slow for me. And like you I definitely drew comparisons from X-Men and Rouge! It was very similar I feel.

    Gahh, the insta-love was so annoying. It was the main reason I didn’t want to pick up the next book. I think I tried to read book 2 but I DNf’ed it? I actually can’t remember. All I know is I definitely haven’t read the third book. This series was not for me.

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

    • I got to this series so late that I don’t remember reading the reviews, but was wondering how many people compared Juliette to Rogue. I was sure I couldn’t have been the only one! I’m into the third book now, and even more dismayed in the romance department. 🙁

  • noveltea

    I’ve heard mixed reviews about this series, but I am curious to see what it’s like for myself (if a little undecided).

    Stef @ the Noveltea Corner

    • So many people have truly loved this series so you never know. I hope you do check it out at some point!

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