After strong urging from the little sister to read the Shatter Me trilogy, I finally gave in. (Well, to be honest, she sent me her extra copies of the books, so it was like I was almost doubly obligated to read them.) With little hesitation, I finally dove into this bizarre, kind-of-a-mess-but-you-keep-reading-anyway series, and… I have a lot to say now.
On one hand, I am really glad I checked these books off of my “absolute must read YA books” list, but on the other hand I kept thinking to myself: “these are not the type of books I like WHAT AM I DOING!?”
The Shatter Me trilogy is definitely a guilty pleasure read – at least for me. Basically, it is a series that focuses almost entirely on character development, (and romantic drama of the dreaded love triangle) and the actual plot is just a driving background force to keep the story KINDA moving along. I mean, seriously, the plot was almost non-existent, especially in the second two books.
So, a brief plot summary:
The world is dying / dead, as is the state of our earth in most dystopian stories, and naturally what humanity needs is new world order. So, the Reestablishment rises up, seizes power, and is everything humanity DOESN’T need (and more). But of course, the general public doesn’t know that! They accept the Reestablishment’s reign of terror because everyone has a collective guilty conscience that basically reassures them that this life, this world, is what they deserve because of how they have destroyed the planet.
Just writing all this down is making me laugh, like how did I get through these books?!
Alright, lets keep going:
So, our main character Juliette has this power, this curse if you will. She cannot touch another living person because her skin is basically a torture device; she causes extreme pain, and in one case, death, which results in her to be locked up in a mental institution.
We are going to go extreme reader’s digest version now, but basically a childhood friend / crush (Adam) rescues her out from under the nose of the evil Reestablishment warlord leader’s son (Warner) and they find sanctuary with a bunch of rebels. With these rebels Juliette learns that she is not alone in having powers, but there are actually a ton of other people who have superhero type qualities, and just like that, the story becomes some twisted version of … X-Men?
I can’t help myself, but SPOILERS FROM HERE ON:
So, in an epic plot twist, it turns out that Juliette’s savior, Adam, is actually a controlling psycho, and the supposed evil warlord, Warner, is just misunderstood, sensitive, and is desperately in love with Juliette. The series ends with all the ‘good guy’ characters teaming up and taking over the Reestablishment, with Juliette killing the leader and claiming his title.
The deeper I got into typing up this broad summary, the more I realized these books are ridiculous.
Admittingly, I did enjoy them. I think Tahereh Mafi’s writing style was insanely unique, and the consistent reason why I continued on with the series. It took me a little why to get into the characters though, and honestly this “background war” was so plain and undeveloped that I still cannot wrap my head around the insane amount of people who have read these books and loved them.
The key to enjoyment here is just to go in accepting that this is a love triangle story with lots of drama and tons of tension, that the characters just happen to live in a dystopian society with superhero powers. Accept this, know this, and the series is going to be a fun read.
Lastly, I have to address how god-damn confused I was for the first book and a half. Not at the plot (or lack thereof), we’ve already addressed this, but because of the ‘ships! All I had ever heard going into this series was WARNER THIS and WARNER IS BAE and TEAM WARNER and #adamsux and I just could not wrap my head around this concept as I was reading!
So, with this in mind, I LOVED how Mafi brought Warner and Adam’s characters to the end, completely changing the reader’s opinion on each man, simply with a matter of perspective change. I thought it was brilliantly done, and … possibly the only realistic aspect of the entire story…? I think this was especially difficult given the nature of the first person narrative, but somehow Mafi pulled it off and I am 100% in Warner’s corner.
Damn you Mafi, I didn’t need another book boyfriend.
So, for those of you that have read this, am I right, OR AM I RIGHT?