Tuesday, April 15, 2014

REVIEW: Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi

According to Twitter, the bookish population minus me has already read this book. Ergo, I’m not going to bother with the synopsis, because I can’t wait to pour my frustration/fury into words. I don’t usually criticize a book like this, but I was looking for salvation during my exams, not torture, so this isn’t criticism, it’s much worse. I’m sorry, in advance.

I obtained this book a long time back, but for some reason, I didn’t want to read it at that time. Miss J, on the other hand, was looking for something to read, so I gave it to her. The next morning, she gives it back to me.

Me: Wow that was fast. A page-turner then, huh?
Miss J: (wrinkling her nose) No, I didn’t finish it.
Me: (confused) Why? How’s it so far, then?
Miss J: Remember Rogue? From X-Men? Yeah, she’s the heroine. And a guy comes in suddenly and then it’s the usual stuff. I got bored and stopped reading.
Me: Hm.

I *so* should have followed her footsteps and stopped reading after the first quarter of the book. Then I wouldn’t have had to deal with this annoyed feeling that THAT was time well wasted. What was I thinking? I wasn’t blind, I’d seen the cover, hadn’t I? (Clue #1 I was not going to like the book)

It’s not that I am that hypocritical person who frowns on romances saying that it’s not literary enough or anything. Or the kind of person who says maybe it’s best if the dystopian genre sticks to an action-intensive plot rather than romance. I’ve read The Host by Stephanie Meyer, and totally ship Ian and Wanda, but this was torture.

Juliette (the name should have been my Clue #2) is infuriating with her oh-so-selfless nature and I’m-not-a-monster whining. Adam is infuriating with his Juliette-is-goodness-personified and I’ve-been-in-love-with-you-for-years speech. The writing is infuriating with the … oh wait, I shall start a new paragraph now.

Imagine someone giving you a package and tells you, go ahead, open it. You look at the wrapping, which is exquisite with its curled ribbons and glitter. You take care to not rip the paper and slowly unwrap it, it’s work, but you’ve unwrapped the whole thing and you finally get to open the box and you see …


This is how the “plot” was wrapped in lyrical prose, with its poetic detailing and using numbers as a motif. But after a point, even the writing becomes insufferable. Too much poetic detail where it’s COMPLETELY TOTALLY ABSOLUTELY unnecessary.

Take this as an example. Juliette is waiting for two people to come out of a room. It’s not a pivotal scene or anything. And then she says it has started to rain, that the “sky is weeping”. This does not happen only once.

And songs have been written to body parts – “I memorize the sculpted hills and valleys of his arms”, and I’m slapping my hand over my face.
“My heart” has been repeated 59 times.
“My eyes” has been repeated 80 plus times. I forgot numbers after that. Don’t get me started on “his eyes”, “his torso”, “my bones” and “my soul”. I’ll run screaming like a madwoman.

Mockingjay was EVERYTHING in the Hunger Games. There’s a bird here too, that makes you want to slap your face again.

And usually when a book in a series ends, it leaves the reader with a “I shall want the next book soon” feeling. Here it was a so-overused-that-it’s-not-a-cliché anymore sort of ending.

I feel this angry because MAN CAN SHE WRITE. When she wants to, the writing is beautiful. Here I am, with almost zero literary skills and a laptop to disparage book nevertheless, and there she is wrapping nothing in beautiful lines of poetry. 

VERDICT: 2 stars

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