Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Publisher: HarperCollins
Release date: October 2, 2012 (originally November 2011)
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 338
Goodreads || Book Depository

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.

MY THOUGHTS

3 stars

I’m not really sure what to say about Shatter Me. I’ve been looking forward to reading it because I’m probably the only person at this point who hasn’t picked up this trilogy… and the male love interests sounded really interesting. But after reading this first installment, I’m feeling a little bit let down.

My main issue with Shatter Me is that I felt like there was no plot. The story for me didn’t begin until 30 pages from the end of the book and I felt like the first 300 pages were just 300 pages of nothing. I couldn’t even tell you what happened because I feel like nothing did. This book follows Juliette, a girl who has a fatal touch. She’s been imprisoned for over 250 days in a dark cell but one day she’s brought out of her cell in order to aid The Reestablishment in their mission… something which Juliette doesn’t want to do. But even though the novel had a really great concept, I don’t think it was executed to its full potential. Juliette spends most of the book either locked up in different locations like a prisoner or on the run from different people who are after her. The plot doesn’t really progress and by the end of the book I felt like I was still kind of at the beginning.

What this book does focus on are the relationships between the characters and the romance. But I wasn’t a fan of the romance in this book, nor the developing love triangle. Even though Adam seems like a great guy, I never really warmed to him and was always suspicious of him. I felt like the romance developed slightly too quickly and it was just a bit uncomfortable for me to read. Warner was an intriguing character to me but I also felt like he was a bit of a creep. Overall, none of the characters really did it for me.

I did like the world in the book. The novel has an apocalyptic setting that I found really interesting. It was interesting to read about how the weather and ecosystems are failing due to human activities, and how the people live with barely any food and are concentrated in small communities that are governed by soldiers and The Reestablishment. What I was a little bit underwhelmed by was The Reestablishment itself. I thought the book lacked description and I didn’t think The Reestablishment was very well conceptualised. I had a rough idea of who they were and what they did but I thought the world building in this respect was weak.

Having said that, I enjoyed the writing style. It was easy to read and I sped through the book in two sittings. It made me want to keep reading and I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the trilogy. Hopefully the next two books address some of the plot and world building issues that I had.

Book Haul: July 2016

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At the beginning of this year, I told myself that I wasn’t going to go on book buying bans or force myself not to buy books. But I wanted to limit my book buying so that I’d read more books each month than I bought. That has completely gone out the window in the last few months and July was no exception. My terrible book buying habits are still in full force. So let’s just get into it.

BOOK DEPOSITORY

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Aila @ One Way or an Author has been telling me to read Starflight since she read it and I finally got myself a copy! It’s beautiful and I’ll be reading it really soon. I read Red Rising a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it so when I saw Golden Son majorly discounted, I picked it up so that I could continue the trilogy. I’ve been wanting to read The Great American Whatever since it was released and I’m happy that I finally bought it. The other two books, Soppy and Furiously Happy, were books that I bought using the BookTubeAThon discount. I have two other books that I ordered along with them but were shipped out late so they’ll be in my August haul at the end of this month.

KINOKUNIYA

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I was a little naughty this month and went to Kinokuniya multiple times to browse… which obviously led to some book buying. I’m going to a few David Levithan events in late August and early September so I’m making my way through his books that I haven’t yet read. Obviously I had to pick up his newest release, You Know Me Well, and I also couldn’t keep my hands away from How They Met, which is a short story collection. I’d been wanting to check out a Jennifer L. Armentrout novel for a really long time but I was never really that interested in her Lux series or any of her other books. But The Problem with Forever sounds right up my alley! And it also has a beautiful cover

Kinokuniya had a 14th birthday 20% off storewide sale at the beginning of the July, so I bought a few books then. I purchased The Outsiders, which I’ve always wanted to read. Every Word is the second book in a trilogy and I picked it up because I own the first and third books. I also picked up Between the World and Me and The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You because I’d heard some good things about them. Finally, I got the Alex + Ada volumes because it’s been a series that I’ve been eyeing for a while and I liked that it was a completed series.

DYMOCKS

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is finally here! I preordered it and picked it up on July 31st because I was so excited about it! The book itself is so beautiful. The naked hardcover is stunning, as are the end papers. I try to go to #YABookmeet each month, hosted by Emily from Dymocks Sydney, and the theme for last month was disability. She recommended Maggot Moon and I snatched up the last copy. I also did a bit of a browse and bought a copy of Where Things Come Back, because I loved John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behaviour. Emily also convinced me that I needed a copy of Seven Ways We Lie, which she special ordered for me. In July, I also went to the Sydney launch of Nevernight and got myself an early release copy. It was absolutely amazing!

RECEIVED

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I was really fortunate this month to receive lots of books from publishers and from my coblogger, Jeann @ Happy Indulgence. Jeann moved house in July, so she sent me a package of books to review on Happy Indulgence before she packed them all away. She sent me her extra copy of When Michael Met Mina, and review copies of The Other Side of Summer (thanks to Penguin Random House Australia), Whisper to Me (thanks to Bloomsbury Australia) and Nothing Tastes As Good (thanks to Allen & Unwin). I received Arena 13 as a trivia prize at the #YABookmeet.

From Allen & Unwin, I received for review The Boundless Sublime, Maggie’s Kitchen, With Malice and London Belongs to Us. Fremantle Press sent me Saving Jazz and I received Trial by Fire from Pan Macmillan Australia. Thank you to all these wonderful publishers.

EBOOKS

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The author of Unicorn Tracks, Julia Ember, asked if I wanted to review her book and of course I said yes because UNICORNS. BABY UNICORNS.


Check out the books I read in July and what I thought of them in my July Wrap Up!

Blog Tour & Mini Review: The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson

the-boundless-sublime

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: July 27, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 352
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia || Publisher

Ruby Jane Galbraith is empty. Her family has been torn apart and it’s all her fault.

The only thing that makes sense to her is Fox – a gentle new friend who is wise, soulful and clever, yet oddly naive about the ways of the world. He understands what she’s going through and he offers her a chance to feel peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Boundless Sublime – and Ruby can’t stay away from him. So she is also drawn in to what she too late discovers is a terrifying secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected.

Can Ruby find the courage to escape? Is there any way she can save Fox too? And is there ever really an escape from the far-reaching influence of the Institute of the Sublime?

A gripping YA novel about an ordinary girl who is unsuspectingly inducted into a secretive modern-day cult.

Welcome to my stop on The Boundless Sublime blog tour! I’ll be giving some brief thoughts on the book before letting the author of The Boundless Sublime, Lili Wilkinson, talk about her struggles with coming up with title names and how The Boundless Sublime got its title.

REVIEW

Thank you to Allen and Unwin for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Boundless Sublime is a thrilling and dark exploration of modern day cults and what it means to be part of one.

Ruby has had a rough 6 months. Her younger brother was killed in a car accident and she feels like it’s all her fault. Her family has been torn apart and Ruby and her mother are tiptoeing around each other and pretending that everything is okay, even though her mother is too depressed to get out of bed and Ruby has been partying every night in order to forget. But when she meets the mysterious and alluring Fox one day, she becomes enamoured and falls quickly in love with him and his ideologies. When he takes her home to meet his ‘family’, she’s intrigued by their lifestyle and decides to join them. And that’s when things get a bit dark and dangerous.

I’ve always been intrigued by cults but have always been kind of too terrified of them to find out more. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t do well with thrillers and mystery novels so you can imagine what I’d be like if I ever did research on cults. But I felt like The Boundless Sublime gave some really good insight on how all-consuming it can be and how wonderful it would feel to be around people who believe in the same things that you do. Also, what this novel does really well is convey the feelings of belonging that might not be possible in the ‘real world’, outside of a cult. I could understand Ruby’s wanting to be part of The Institute of the Boundless Sublime because she feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere else in the world. But it was quite scary how quickly things escalated and how quickly a person can become drawn into all the dark and scary things that are going on without knowing it.

I did have a little bit of a rough time with the characters though. I didn’t find them to be realistic and I had to really suspend my disbelief a lot of the time. It got better in the second half of the book but I definitely found it hard to connect with Ruby and with most of the characters in the book. I did like Fox a lot but he was a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Boy and that was a little bit off-putting to me. Ruby falls in love with him at first sight and this insta-love made it hard for me to enjoy Fox as a character. Having said that, there was much less focus on the romance and on Fox in the second half of the book and I enjoyed it a lot more at that point.

LILI WILKINSON ON WRITING CHALLENGES AND BOOK TITLES

The Boundless Sublime is much, much darker than the books I’ve written before. I expected that would be a challenge, but actually I loved writing dark. I’d just had a baby when I was writing the first draft, and days with babies are so full of forced cheer – you’re trying to be upbeat and positive when you are often exhausted and overwhelmed. It was such a relief for me, when Banjo went down for a nap, to pull out my laptop and pour all my withheld darkness out into the story.

The biggest challenge for me in writing The Boundless Sublime, was getting the title right. Titles are THE ACTUAL WORST and I don’t think I’ve ever written a book where the title came easily – usually the title changes three or four times, and I often have to change the content of the book itself to fit the final title.

I knew the title of the book would be the name of the cult, and I nearly went crazy trying to find the right one. Here are a few that I tried on for size and then rejected:

Panacea
The Divine Quintessence
The Flowers of Antimony
The True Family
Sanctify
The Ministry of Truth
The Atomic Family
The Children of Zosimon
The Congregation
The Conjunction
Eternal Prime
ALUM

After much discussion with my wonderfully patient editors, we settled on The Institute of the Boundless Sublime for the cult name. The characters in the book refer to it as “The Institute”, which I really like because it reflects the kind of pseudoscience often found in cults and new religious movements.

The title really needs the cover to work – on its own it could sound like a romance, or a dreamy coming-of-age story. But the contrast between the positivity of “The Boundless Sublime” and the darkness of the cover really works magic – warns the reader that something that seems perfect and beautiful on the outside can often be rotten to the core on the inside. Big props to Astred Hicks at Design Cherry for her fabulous cover design.

Let’s Talk About Sects webseries about Lili’s cult research: http://www.liliwilkinson.com.au/lets-talk-about-sects/

More information about The Boundless Sublime: https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/childrens/young-adult-fiction/The-Boundless-Sublime-Lili-Wilkinson-9781760113360

The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $19.99, available now at all Australian retailers.

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Wrap Up: July 2016

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It’s the end of another month, which means that it’s time to revisit all the books that I read during the month. I had a little bit of a reading slump in mid-July but recovered pretty nicely towards the end of the month. Still, I feel like I’ve lost a little bit of enthusiasm for reading and was kinda forcing myself to read. Hopefully August will be a better month for me. I’ll be participating in the #ReadThemAllThon, created and hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight. With this readathon, I’m hoping to read a lot of books that I was excited to pick up but haven’t read yet.

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