So this series concludes my attempt at the 100 books in 2019 challenge, these books comprised of numbers 27- 33, bringing me to my grand total of 33 books in a year, so much worse than I thought I’d do!
The Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi was intitially a trilogy but it was followed up by a further two books in the series, as well as four novellas set from different perspectives, throughout the timeline of the first five books. The last is due to come out in April.
In one line: I am litterally obessed with these books now, I absolutely love them!
I chose these from a list on Pinterest, one of those ‘if you like these books you will also like:’, part of a bunch of books I bought in October in my last treat before I had ban myself from using my credit card! The story is set in a world where a totilatarium goverment rules the entire planet, which is slowly heading towards destruction because of pollution and War, something which the ‘Re statblishment’ was intitially voted in to fix but this was actually a smokescreen for their true agenda. People with strange powers are part of underground rebellion, which the main characters eventually join in attempt to overthrow the rulers of their particular part of America. The events across five books are way too complex to describe (you can find the plot summary link in the final paragraph below) so I thought I’d focus on the aspects of it I enjoyed the most
At first, I was a little sceptical, the book is written from the first person point of view of Juliette (it later goes on to use other view points quite frequently but the first book is almost exclusively hers). The language comes across as a little faltering, interspersed with incredibly cheesy and angsty observations and interactions with the other characters. With a tendency to sign post an emotion a little too much, especially when recating to something in an extreme, eratic way. However, I soon came to realise just how bloody clever this was! We begin the journey with Juilette in the asylum, after being isolated for almost an entire year in there by the Re establishment her mental state had deteriorated and, because of the strange power in her skin, she’d spent her whole life isolated and unable to be touched. The first person view point doesn’t seek to gloss over this in order to give you smooth reading at first, you start in the mind of someone who very very ill. When she is taken from the asylum to the sector 45 compound, she’s discovers that by some miracle, she is able to touch Adam (we later discover that this is because he has powers of his own), which leads to an extreme and immediate infactuation. Imagine not speaking to anyone else for a year, imagine never being able to touch anyone else before, of course your reaction to the first person you can safely touch would be extreme.
However, I will admit that at first, I did not read it this way because it did lend itself to some extremely cheesy and tween angsty dialouge. It’s only once she starts to recover, starts to interact with more people that the narration starts to change, starts to become more fluid and her reactions less extreme (again if you’ve ever read bad YA fantasy fic, you’ll know the exact kind of writing this could be interpreted as… i.e. please see my feelings on the Vampire Diaries books). I only appreciated what the author had been trying to achieve once the narration began to change with her mental state. The trauma and the subsequent severe detoriation in her mental state she experienced is a fact that, unlike other dystopian/ fantasy books, the author doesn’t seek to gloss over. Juilette doesn’t get magically better, it’s a development you watch happen across the events of all the books. Although it is quite jarring at first and may have made the first book and first half of the second book a little less readable, it’s really well done and sets up a lot of other factors in the novels really well.
Another major part of the novels, which I thought was very well done, is her relationship with the ‘bad boy’ she falls for over Adam; Warner, is posed as the big baddy from the very begining but his character has very clever depths to it. She doesn’t fall for the charming bad boy in spite of the terrible things he’s done, rather, they are reframed in the content of the abusive life he suffered under his father who is now the Supreme Commander for North America. Some of his actions were distorted by Juilette’s mind, some were a product of the awful things he had to do to survive and thrive under his father’s watch and the regime of the Re-establishment. They fall in love under these difficult circumstances, with neither of them apologising for the person they’ve become, nor attempting to ‘change’ just for the sake of the other; they both change naturally, with time and healing.
So there are two love stories in this novel for Juilette but thankfully, it is only briefly a love triangle. As she recovers from her trauma, Juilette begins to see her relationship with Adam through open eyes. Was it really love? Or just pure relief and joy over having someone who is kind to her, for the first time in her life? Some one who can touch her finally. Their relationship comes to it’s conclusion in the subterannium compound of the rebel group they retreat to, as they both recover, Adam can’t cope with Juilette growing stronger and more independent; especially while he himself is recovering from his own traumas and difficulties. Once she discoveres that her touch does hurt Adam, as his power simply acts by ‘switching off’ other people’s powers, mostly those which threaten him, which is why when he starts to let his guard down around Juliette, it nearly kills him. During their time in the compound, Warner is captured and held hostage and Juilette is forced to talk to him in the hopes he might give her information. It is in this situation, where he is not in a position of power over Juilette, that they finally talk properly and she starts to learn more about him and see him for what he really is. This plus, the clear chemistry between them, begins the start of their relationship, which is full of fire but unlike her relationship with Adam (and most of other YA fantasy relationships!) it takes a long time to actually develop into a real relationship, strong feeling don’t overide their heads. The author recognises that these are two deeply flawed and traumatised people, they are not going to become the perfect couple overnight.
Plus there’s her platonic friendships with other people, which are given almost as much significance as her romantic ones in the narrative. Her relationships with characters like Kenji are complex and given their own appropriate amount of time to develop. Every character is given equal depth and consideration, with attention to detail that could have been irksome if it hadn’t been handled so smoothly by the author through the narration and plot.
I could waffle on about these books a lot longer because I really did truly enjoy reading them, I can’t remember the last time I got this lost in reading a series, nor cleared seven books in the space of about three weeks, despite working full time for most of those weeks. They aren’t too expensive to purchase on Amazon either, which is why after initially buying the box set of the first four, I went onto buy the rest pretty much as soon as I’d finished them!
I 100% reccommend this series’ and I can’t wait for the final installment! Here is the Good Read’s plot summary for the intial triology.
Thus, my poor attempt at the 100 books in 2019 challenge has ended. I will be making another attempt next year, as I’ve really enjoyed keeping track of what I’ve read and reviewing them on here and on my bookstagram account. Hopefully with an attempt to take better care of myself this year, will come more time for reading!