So it’s Monday, the day that I would normally post a book review, but I’m sad to say that I don’t have one to post this week. There are a couple of reasons for this: 1. I’m in university and it’s currently final exam season, which means I am spending most of my days studying; 2. I could not for the life of me get into Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.
Why? That’s a really good question, and one that I’ve been pondering for the past few days. I’ve only ever heard people rave about her books, so how come I couldn’t even get through half of the first one? What’s wrong with me that I’m just not getting all the hype?
I’ve narrowed it down to a few factors. One of those is the writing style. If you’re a reader who looks for unique writing styles, then this book is quite possibly for you. While I’m not someone averse to unique writing styles, Mafi’s style in Shatter Me put me right off. I think there’s a difference between something being unique and something being creative. To me, Shatter Me’s prose was not creative. Without any spoilers, I’ll break it down for you: the MC, Juliette, is on the edge of insanity, so the prose is supposed to reflect her stream of consciousness to a degree. Mafi does this by occasionally ditching the rules of grammar and also having words or complete phrases crossed out on the page, so they’re readable but reflect that the character is fighting with herself on how to perceive or think about her situation. If this blog was written in the Shatter Me style, it might read something like this:
If this blog was written in the Shatter Me style it might read something like this
Like this like this like this
Why don’t I think this is creative? Because it seems too easy. I’m not saying it was easy for Mafi to write this book, but it almost seemed as if Mafi started revising her draft and then decided not to finish it, instead letting the readers see all of the pre-revision work. For me, as a reader, it was incredibly annoying, and it just felt like something that anyone could have done. I’ve read the stream-of-consciousness, absence-of-grammar book before, I’ve read the cross-out-lines-to-reflect-the-MC-is-struggling-to-think-straight book. I want something refreshing. Maybe show me a diary where the font looks like scribbled words and there are words written in the margins. Scatter the words across the pages with blank spaces in between to show the MC struggling to sort out their thoughts or come up with the right thing to say. To me, those things would feel more creative.
As well, I don’t know about you fellow readers, but I’ve trained my eye to skip over anything that is crossed out, so it was super tedious to have to constantly remind myself to read those parts. However, what I found was that you actually could skip over almost all of it and the story/narration wasn’t drastically altered. In fact, I found it to be better.
The other problem I had with this style was that it was occasional. The crossing-out was fairly consistent throughout the portion that I read, but there were random paragraphs where grammar and punctuation would be forgotten while the next two pages were written as you’d normally see them in any other book. It felt very sporadic to me, which may emphasize Juliette’s mental state to some readers, but it just appeared sloppy to me. I think I would have appreciated the style much more had it been consistent throughout every paragraph, sentence, etc. I once read a book where there was basically no correct grammar or punctuation because it was written by a post-traumatic stress victim who was sporadically remembering the events of her life that lead to her present state, and I loved it. The continuous stream-of-consciousness narration was so powerful alongside the overarching story that it had a pretty big impact on me afterwards. Unfortunately, while I feel as if that was something Mafi was trying to accomplish, I think she missed the mark.
Finally, I felt like Mafi was occasionally going over-board with her descriptions. This feeling that I have is a bit harder to describe, but it was kind of like this: where Mafi could have used two or three adjectives to describe what she was talking about while simultaneously demonstrating Juliette’s struggle with her sanity and love of words, Mafi used ten. That’s the best way I can describe it, though it’s not a very good expression of the feeling nagging at me. I can only encourage you to give the book a try and see for yourself.
Now, like I said, I seem to be the only person in the world who does not like these books, so I’d like to know if there’s anyone else out there who just could not get through them. Please comment and let me know. I’d love to have your input!
In other news, I am currently reading Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige and am finding it pretty interesting so far. The Wizard of Oz always creeped me out so I’m pumped to be reading someone else’s dark take on the tale. Waiting for me on the book shelf are: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, with The Cemetery Boys and a few other new releases waiting for me at the library. I am also hoping to grab Shutter by Courtney Alameda as soon as I get a little extra cash. My TBR list is nearly endless, you guys.
-Ember Book Reviews xxoo
Dorothy Must Die on Amazon.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone on Amazon.
The Iron King on Amazon.
The Cemetery Boys on Amazon.
Shutter on Amazon.
(P.S. If you have ever clicked a link on my blog that lead to your purchase of a book, please let me know. Thank you.)