I follow lots of book blogs on Tumblr, although I don’t post very many book-related things on there, and that’s actually how I find a lot of books which I end up reading; the things which pop up again and again in my feed end up being the books that I think ‘hmmm, maybe I should read that!’
Shatter Me was one of those books. Actually, it was one of those series, to be completely honest. It popped up in my feed so many times that the visually stunning covers with elaborate eyes on them became ingrained in my head, so I had to pick at least the first book up.
Once I marked it up as ‘reading’ on GoodReads, I realised that there are actually two very different covers for Shatter Me – the eyes which I kept seeing on Tumblr, and a cover with a girl in a white dress. The second cover was, to be honest, totally underwhelming, and if that had been what kept popping up in my feed, I doubt it would have ever really registered on my radar. But then, I read the entire Fallen Series, and all of The Selection, so I might be being a little unfair to my attraction to books with dresses on the front cover.
In any case, the left cover art is, I think, awesome. So intriguing, so mysterious, and I like eyes. Plus the use of strikeout on the cover was indicative of the main character’s struggle with herself. I was definitely on board with this book.
I have a curse
I have a gift
I am a monster
I’m more than human
My touch is lethal
My touch is power
I am their weapon
I will fight back
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
So when I saw Shatter Me first, I was expecting something along the lines of all the other dystopian trilogies I’ve read – Divergent, The Hunger Games, Delirium, etc, etc etc, with a touch of Cursed by Jennifer L Armentrout thrown in. I was expecting action, a love story, and the inevitable beginnings of the overthrowing of a corrupt and unsustainable governing system. Because I’ve read a lot of dystopia, okay? I know how this works!
What I got, instead, was a fistful of purple prose.
I had actually forgotten the term purple prose, but when I saw someone else using it I realised that it was the perfect phrase to use to describe Shatter Me.
Wikipedia says that purple prose is:
prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is characterized by the extensive use of adjectives, adverbs, zombie nouns, and metaphors.
(I have a small confession to make: I don’t know what zombie nouns are. I clicked on the link, and I still don’t understand what they are. This is slightly sending me into a small shame spiral. I will return shortly)
(I did some more googling. I feel a little more enlightened now.)
So! Purple prose! Shatter Me is RIFE with it. There’s not a single page of Shatter Me that doesn’t have some affected prose which detracts from the story and getting to know the characters.
I thought in the beginning that the book was supposed to be a transcription of Juliette’s notebook – so the overuse of strikeouts and the incessant use of numbers could have been representations of what physical journals are like – numbers instead of letters to save space, and strikeouts because backspace isn’t available – but events in the book didn’t transpire that way, so I’m still a little confused.
The purple prose in this book grated immensely on me – I really struggled to get through certain parts of the book due to the incessant repetition, the strange obsession wtih numbers, the strikeouts (which I should have seen coming, given the blurb and the cover art, but apparently I’m dumb) and the incessant, constant use of metaphors.
When I read We Were Liars in 2014, there was a passage near the beginning in which the narrator said that her dad took out a gun and shot her (or something to that effect). It was metaphorical, although I didn’t realise it at the time. Because I missed the metaphor, I spent a good two pages wondering why the narrator wasn’t getting urgent medical attention, then felt extremely dumb for a good twenty minutes.
Shatter Me was sort of similar. There were so many metaphors, it was difficult at times to tell what was actually happening. I find this kind of writing really frustrating. I like beautiful writing, and I like writing which helps me get inside the head of the protagonist, but I really, really don’t like writing which is so flowery and overt that you spend more time thinking about the words themselves than the effect that they’ve had on you, the reader.
The story of Shatter Me was pretty standard dystopia – girl in corrupt society, meets boy, will help overthrow the world, love triangle, blah blah blah – and I would’ve been totally okay with that, because I like a standard dystopia. However, the method of delivery of the story was really jarring and, to be honest, downright distracting, which really reduced my enjoyment of the book.
I did, however, follow it up almost immediately with a short story in the same world, which was called Destroy Me, and was much better. Destroy Me is told from the perspective of Warner, one of the other main characters in Shatter Me, and doesn’t suffer from any of the purple prose issues that Shatter Me does. So if the whole series were told from his perspective, I would be much more willing to give it a go!
Even still, although I didn’t *love* Shatter Me, I really hate to leave a story unfinished. So it’s quite likely that I’ll read the next two books in the series – Unravel Me and Ignite Me.
If you like flowery language, overt metaphors, and linguistic conceits to beat the band – plus a bit of dystopian romance – then Shatter Me is the book for you!
PS – I was going to do a dump at the bottom here of book covers with dresses, but there are *so many* I’m going to farm them out into their own post. Coming soon!