By Jen P
A few years ago, I reviewed a book called Rogue Touch. I liked the book just fine, but it strayed so heavily from the source material, it rubbed a lot of Rogue fans the wrong way. Recently, I found the time to try Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi. It’s been in my TBR for so long, I forgot it was there. But I’m glad I found it again. The main character isn’t actually Rogue, and the world isn’t that of the X-Men, but it may as well be both. Read on to find out how.
Shatter Me is the tale of Juliette Farrars, a girl who society (and even her own parents) cast away and forgot about. But society isn’t what it used to be. Surprise, b*tch! This superhero novel is also a YA Dystopian, set in a world where a new government took over, promising a better future, but instead enslaved the people and keeps tabs on their every move. The average person lives in a shipping container, with no art, no freedom, and no access to hot water; while those in power live in marble-lined palaces, dripping with chandeliers and caviar. A Hitler-esque military patrols the streets day and night, authorized to shoot anyone caught in the forbidden zones or out after curfew. But Juliette doesn’t even have it that good. At an early age, her parents learned that her very touch was deadly. Her condition kept them on the move, putting her in school after school, until one day, she accidentally killed someone. Now, Juliette is locked away in a prison for the criminally insane. Her only companion: a notebook. But one day, she gets an unexpected roommate: a boy with eyes she thought she’d never see again. A boy who she loves so much, she can never EVER touch.
She’s the Rogue We Deserved in Rogue Touch: Like I said before, I like Rogue Touch, but the novel never connected with the X-Men. It went to the future to give her a random love interest, and pretty much avoided canon as a whole. It read like a weird fan-fiction, with an MC we knew, but a ton of original characters. Not only that, it changed her backstory. And it was a weird plot as a whole. I’m not saying that Shatter Me fixes all those problems (because, without the Marvel backing, it can’t go full Rogue), but the storytelling is much cleaner and less complicated. Juliette’s powers make her struggle, but they make her stronger. **SPOILER** And by the end, she joins up with a very X-Men-like group of people who have varying powers that have been outcast by society just as she has.
Even Heroes Need Saving Sometimes: Juliette may become a badass later on, but she’s reliant on her human guy-pals for most of the ass kicking in Shatter Me. She’s been sitting in a cell for a whole year, so she can’t run fast, and she doesn’t know how to shoot a gun or drive a car. Her powers may be deadly, but she’s weak in other ways. And of course, she has a vulnerable heart.
A Sinister Villain: Warner is obsessive, psychotic, and deadly. He’ll shoot a man in the head for sharing supplies with needy families. He’ll torture a toddler just to see what our heroine will do to save the child. So, whenever he touched Juliette, my skin would crawl. I’m looking forward to watching him develop throughout the series, whether he goes darker or finds the light. Villain arcs are my fave. (Oh, Kylo Ren, how you’ve burned me!)
Unique Voice: The story is told almost as if Juliette is writing it in her notebook. Scratched out and repeated words help the reader feel Juliette warring with her sanity. She’s angry, yet docile. Yearning, yet restrained. I enjoyed reading from her POV, and found her relatable (except for the whole killing-people-with-her-touch thing).
Kryptonite (Yeah, I know Rogue isn’t DC. Calm down.):
YA Dystopian: I don’t hate YA Dystopian, but the concept rubs me the wrong way: When society crumbles, the fate of the world lies in the hands of rebellious teenagers! They can hardly think about all the dead bodies and lack of clean water for wanting to have sex all the time; but somehow, they’ll manage to save us all and have mind blowing virgin sex with the hottest guy in the history of hot guys! Ha. I can suspend my disbelief for superpowers, witchcraft, unicorns, and animal transformations, but I draw the line at horny teenagers having the gumption to save the world. But alas, I’ve read it once and I’ll read it again. I’m a glutton for punishment, and apparently, a pervert.
Love Triangle: Ugh, the dreaded triangle of YA. Why must there always be one? On a good note, the triangle isn’t that obnoxious. Adam is the main guy, and Warner is the psychotic villain that wants to possess her. Obvious choice, right? **MILD SPOILER** I didn’t think it was possible to redeem such a psychopath. But… based on the novella from Warner’s perspective that was attached to the end of Shatter Me, I have to assume he’ll be a romantic contender later on. I have yet to decide how I feel about this. I’m trying to keep an open mind.
Almost a Mary Sue: Of course, she’s stunningly beautiful, but she’s the only one who doesn’t know it. Every guy she meets falls in love with her. She never wants to hurt ANYONE, even the bad guys– Little Miss Perfect always looks out for everyone but herself. And sure, she has a shitty past and gets beat up a little, but she has an almost unstoppable power. **SPOILER** The energy she siphons from those she disables with her touch is converted into strength. So this quiet, clumsy girl can punch through cement walls. **END OF SPOILER** I hope that in the next book, she actually gets her butt kicked a couple of times, and has to face the psychological damage that being unable to touch anyone for seventeen years would do to a person.
Where my girls at? I hope in the next books there are more strong female characters because in Shatter Me, Juliette is literally the only one. None of the MC’s mothers appear in this book, nor sisters or girlfriends. We’re introduced to a couple of girls by the end that may play a larger role later in the series, but so far, Juliette is surrounded by dudes. Oh, what a problem to have…
Overall, I give it 3.5 shields:
It’s a basic YA Dystopian with a superhero twist, but the writing is solid, the MC is interesting, and I rarely find superhero novels with a fresh story to tell. That being said, Catwoman: Soulstealer, by Sarah J. Maas is a pretty great read. In fact, T. Mack read all the books in the DC Icons series, and you can check out her reviews of those here.
FYI: I’ve already ordered the next two books in the Shatter Me series, so I am HERE FOR IT.
Have y’all tried these? Convo in the comments. Later, Geeks!