Between the Lines: Shatter Me Review


T. Mafi

Shatter Me, by Taherah Mafi.

Every time I attempted to read the first few chapters of Shatter Me because BookTok made it sound interesting, I would put the book back down and tell myself I’d try to read it again. Well…the future came…and this is where I ended up; writing a very long review. 

Soon after I finished reading The Cruel Prince trilogy, I struggled to find another book to read, which put me into a reading slump. I tried several books, but none were kicking me with the wonder that The Cruel Prince had previously knocked in my face. Then, last week, I went to grab myself a drink from Starbucks at the drive-thru not far from my home, and that’s when my slump turned into a binge read of the Shatter Me series. When I picked up my shaken espresso, the girl working at the Starbucks window saw Shatter Me sitting in the passenger seat of my car. She immediately expressed her love for the series, and her excitement had me laughing so much that I realized the novel might bring me the same amount of joy. So…I opened it up again. 

My reasoning behind not finishing Shatter Me in the past is simple. The beginning of the novel is dull. Not only is the setting dreary and confusing in the first few chapters, but the main character is also essentially alone, leaving us no other newfound characters in which to develop interests. After reading the novel’s beginning and getting past the initial setting, I realized that everything in it was essential to the book’s plot. I had a better understanding of why the author incorporated such a boring beginning into the book. I advise other readers to understand that the first few chapters are essential, but the rest of the books will not follow this same depressing tone and direction. If you overlook the oddities of the original setting in the first few chapters, you may find yourself loving the series!


The Plot

When it comes to the novel’s setting, there is no way I’ll ever fully understand the actual world that the author created. I know that it takes place in an area that fell to a takeover. I picture The Hunger Games in my head when I picture it. I believe that now a new government has taken control, and a rebellious group is hoping to rise and fight against the new government that is currently in place. All of this somehow managed to happen within the years that Juliette was locked up, which is where Shatter Me starts. This means that she doesn’t necessarily understand the world around her when she ends up free. I think this may have been the author’s tactic so that she would not have to explain the setting in depth… because it doesn’t make much sense. Overall, when it comes to the world, this is not a dystopian novel; this is a romance novel… and that is made very clear as you read it. 

I’ve never been a massive fan of the guy-falling-first plot solely because authors who write from a female character’s point of view and have the love interest fall first often do it too quickly, making it feel like Cinderella all over again. What I mean by that is in Cinderella, Prince Charming falls for her even though he barely knows her, and this becomes some undying love. I know this isn’t real life, but it still gets on my nerves when love occurs at first sight without knowing who the love interest is. So when I started reading Shatter Me, I was annoyed that the main character almost immediately had two men all over her, sparking up a love triangle in a matter of chapters. This, although it wasn’t my favorite thing, was actually what kept me so invested in the first book. I know I just ranted about how I hate the idea behind that plot direction, but without it, Shatter Me likely would have never become such a popular book. Readers of this series are reading it for the romance, so who wants to read and read and read and wait for the slow burn to finally spark when you can have an off-brand prince charming come in and fall head over heels right from the get-go? Like most Shatter Me fans, I was absolutely roped into the fast-paced plot. With the constant analogies and metaphors in every chapter and the immediate love triangle, I refused to put down the book. 

Although Tahereh Mafi does try to explain why the initial love interest fell so quickly for Juliette, expressing that he had known her since she was little. This knocked my annoyed self out of the ballpark as I no longer had any reason to complain about the character’s ‘sudden’ love for the main character. Still, with the other love interest, Tahereh keeps the reasons for his quickly growing affections hidden. I didn’t understand his reasons for loving the main character so suddenly until I finished Shatter me and began reading the novella from Warner’s point of view during the first book. The novella helped me understand his character better. I was 100% on his side during every following conflict because I had been dealt with so much of the needed information through the novella. I’ve never enjoyed novellas in the past. However, the novella that came with my edition of Shatter Me was extremely helpful to me as a reader and kept me engaged in the storyline. I strongly encourage readers to try the novellas along with the novel should they choose to continue the series beyond the first book. 


The Characters

The main character, Juliette, can most definitely get on my nerves from time to time, but I think that makes her realistic. Us readers never truly acknowledge that the main characters make mistakes along with side characters because we have some idea that the main characters should only follow the path that we want them to follow. I honestly loved Juliette through the first novel because she seemed to have every reason to be acting the way she was. Her past traumas were factored into her character, giving her every right to be emotionally wrecked. Over time, however, she can get tiring. In the second novel, Unravel Me, she is constantly whining and whimpering, throwing major temper tantrums when things in her life aren’t perfect. This is a problem with the second novel, but at the same time, it carries the plot along and leads to other things that kept me warped in the pages of the book. When I reached the second book’s ending, I was worried that she just had a whiney personality, but that concern went away with her massive character development within the first few chapters of the third book, Ignite Me. 

Everyone has mixed views on the characters in Shatter Me. I don’t know exactly who’s name would come from my mouth if someone asked me to pick a favorite character from this series. However, I love the character placed later in the book – Kenji. He seems to have been brought in as a ‘best friend’ for Juliette, and he’s hilarious. At first, in Shatter Me, he was highly annoying. However, as the story went on, he grew less and less annoying and became one of my favorite characters in the books.

The only character I genuinely dislike is Adam. He’s your basic initial love interest who spouts sappy lines and wants to make everything about himself. When I think of Adam, I think of Tamlin from ACOTAR, Dean from Gilmore Girls, or Chaol from Throne of Glass. If you know any of these characters, you have a good idea of why I strongly dislike Adam, though I haven’t witnessed him do anything terrible in the books I’ve read so far. 

Oppositely from my views on Adam, Warner is fantastic. His lines crack me up, and his character background is revealed more and more over time, making him more admirable. I don’t know how to explain why I love Warner so much without spoiling anything in the books, but he just puts a smile on my face by appearing in a scene. The characters in Shatter Me have fantastic development and depth, making the books worth reading. 


The Language/Writing Style

Haley Ladlee – Pinterest

The writing style shows skills I hope to attain and perfect as my talents grow. For example, Juliette’s point of view shows her conflicting inner thoughts. As words appear on the pages, things she’s thinking or wishes to say show up, but she denies her thoughts and keeps her intended words to herself. This is shown by the horizontal lines crossing out the words on the paper. I love this because the author put so much thought into it; the title of the book is Shatter Me, and the words in the book are shattered. This is a writing style I had never encountered before, and I thought it would annoy me when starting the book, but it made it so much more enjoyable.

Also, another positive factor in the writing is the constant use of analogies and metaphors coming from the narrator, Juliette. Her character shows so much depth from the start, as the author unravels Juliette’s obsession with numbers and her struggles to figure herself out. 



I completely agree with most of the complaints that Shatter Me has received on Goodreads; however, I still believe that the positive factors in the books strongly outweigh the negatives. I strongly encourage everyone to try to continue reading Shatter Me. Many people complain about what I choose to praise in these novels, such as the constant use of similes and metaphors. Every reader is different; we carry different values, goals, preferences, and lives – so I have no way of knowing if you’ll enjoy Shatter Me, but I urge you to try it. I’m currently reading Ignite Me after finishing the two prior books in less than two days each as I read them extremely quickly since they were so exciting to me. Yes, the books have problems, but I promise you the SHATTER ME series is worth giving it a go.