Don’t Be Fooled by the Cover: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

I put off reading this book because the cover underwhelmed me. The cool light painting wasn’t what turned me off—it was the girl in a white dress. Is she trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic dystopia or walking down the aisle on her wedding day?

But several of my patrons who love paranormal romance and dystopian YA absolutely raved about this book, and Olivia insisted I give it a try. And I found out that it wasn’t about a girl in a wedding dress.

Okay, I knew that it wasn’t about that from the synopsis…but the cover wasn’t inspiring confidence.

“You can’t touch me,” I whisper.

I’m lying, is what I don’t tell him.

He can touch me, is what I’ll never tell him.

But things happen when people touch me.

Strange things.

Bad things.

No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own.

After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.

source: Goodreads

What most impressed me about this novel was the voice. Common writing advice is to write in third person if you don’t have a startling narrator (I think it was Jonathan Franzen who said that, and I think a lot of authors would do well to take his advice but Tahereh Mafi is not one of them).  I felt like I lived inside Juliette’s head. There’s no way to get her mixed up with another character or to mistake this book for another. It was unique in style. Mafi’s prose was elegant at times, and the repetitive phrasing without commas in an almost stream of consciousness style really worked, especially at the beginning of the novel when we first meet her and she has been imprisoned for almost a year. I can see how some could be put off by the strikethrough text, but I thought it added a lot stylistically and made this book stand out from others in this genre.

And the romance was amazing. The slow reveal of Juliette and Adam’s history made the rising attraction believable, and Juliette’s particular condition made the kissing scenes steamy. To have not been able to experience touch for so long does make the slightest brush scintillating. Mafi’s beautiful use of language had me feeling the sparks right along with them.

As for the plot, not a lot actually happened in the novel. It was a very basic, predictable story. It was still an enjoyable, quick read, but it’s not making it onto my favorite list. I’ll happily recommend it to teens who enjoy their post-apocalyptic/dystopian/parnormal reads with a strong dose of romance, but for those who like action and great world-building and surprising twist and turns, I’ll suggest other titles.

4 thoughts on “Don’t Be Fooled by the Cover: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

  1. another paranormal romance that I feel is pretty good considering the title and cover are horrible is “Die For Me.” Check it out. Better than Twilight, not that I read them, but I like the characters, the voice, and found France a great character and setting in a way. I was really off put by the synopsis and the title, but damn, it does bring something a little fresh to the genre of supernatural romance, even if the romance isn’t wholly absorbing — still worth a read. I think it’s mostly for girls, but the pace and action and characters drew me in (I’m embarassed to admit as a punk rocker with a beard.) LOL. Still not as good as Daughter and Smoke and Bone, though. Or Shadow and Bone. Totally different books, similar titles. Whats up with that?!

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