“Shatter Me” isn’t as shattering as #BookTok presents it

Leslie Farwell, Contributing Writer

The early 2010s led to the killing of the dystopian genre with the same tropes, basic worldbuilding, and redundant “teen saves the world” vibe.  Tahereh Mafi’s first book in the Shatter Me series, Shatter Me, brings the reader back to that disastrous peak because it was published on the back end of the trend. 

The book tells of a girl who is locked inside an asylum because of a “gift” she can’t control as The Reestablishment (a totalitarian government) that takes over the world in an effort to restore the world to what it once was. One individual’s decision to bring her into the folds of the organization starts a chain reaction of events set to reimagine the world. 

In general, the book was a shorter read that was enjoyable. The reader is able to connect to Juilette through a first person omniscient point of view that allows the reader to see all of her thoughts. Over time, the shift from a scared girl who hasn’t spoken in almost a year due to being plagued with regret to working through her fears and trying to reconnect with herself. While the plot dealt with some heavier themes like war and the world might be ending, the way they were presented allowed for the ability of a quicker read that stayed relevant without weighing down the story. Heavier scenes like the battles were followed by lighter scenes that moved the character development along effectively. 

The book’s dystopian roots seem very reminiscent of many household names of the genre without feeling overly repetitive. As the joke always seems to go, YA dystopian books always have a main character who is orphaned or cut off from their parents and that reigns true in this series. It doesn’t feel as token as others, but do expect many common tropes and themes throughout.  

This book was a little rough to read, not because of the content or the plot – both were engaging. Instead, it was the creative ways Mafi conveyed Juliette’s struggles that made it difficult. In moments when Juliette is thinking, thoughts she doesn’t want to are slashed through on the page. Another aspect of differing fonts was when writing happened it appeared italicized contrasting the standard font. Both of these creative approaches made it somewhat hard to read.

Overall it’s a 3.5/5 stars since it wasn’t super challenging and stayed engaging enough to read the next two novellas and full-length novels. It’s worth checking out for fans of dystopian novels, superheroes, and YA books.