Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mini Reviews: Shatter Me and Defiance

Well, I'm back with some more mini-reviews! I only have two this time, so they're slightly longer than usual (at least Defiance is), but I hope you'll bear with me. Someday, I will master the true art of writing actual mini-reviews!
Author: Tahereh Mafi 
Rating: 2 Stars/DNF
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.
I think this book will work out for a lot of people - I really do. I even understand what the author was trying to accomplish with this - a novel that has a character-driven plot with a protagonist who is coming to terms with herself, her power, and her love. I get it, I really do, but I just can't bring myself to care.  

First and foremost, reading books like this is hell. So is reading books written like this. 
If that wasn't enough to throw you off, I wasn't a fan of the writing style/narration in general. It was extravagently flowery, with poetic language and metaphors that didn't seem to make much sense either. I enjoyed the overly descriptive language in novels such as Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Scorpio Races, and even Stormdancer, but it somehow didn't work for me in this one. Plus, just like how Throne of Glass was a romance novel parading around as a kick-ass assassin story, Shatter Me is a romance novel parading around as a kick-ass dystopian story. I wasn't impressed with the insta-love/lust in this, I wasn't impressed with the MC, I wasn't impressed with the lack of world-building, and I wasn't a big fan of the plot either. If anything, this book just reminded me of Article 5, a novel that I would, very much, like to forget.  

I guess this novel just wasn't for me. I read a lot of reviews before picking it up and from what other reviewers have told me since I began, I think I'm better off spending my time on something else. Yet, I do sincerely believe that plenty of other readers will fall in love with this series, so I'd encourage you to check out some other reviews, read a couple of chapters, and give it a try yourself. So much of this novel is based purely on personal preferences and opinions, so if you're a romance fan, this is definitely one for you.  
Author: C.J. Redwine 
Rating: 2.5 Stars 
Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her. At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared. As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.
If I had to describe  Defiance in one word, it would be ‘forgettable.’ Like so many books before it, Defiance has all the right ingredients to be an incredible novel, from its heart-stopping cover to its kick-ass heroine to its intriguing plot, but somehow, it just didn't work for me. I went into this novel with low expectations, simply because so many trusted reviewers had given this a low rating, and I absolutely have to agree with them.  Defiance, far from being a defiant cry about the re-emerging fantasy genre in YA Fiction, has only made me extremely wary of it. 

For those of you who know me well, you’ll know that two things make-or-break my opinion of a novel – its characters and the world-building. Rachel and Logan, while proving to be intriguing characters from the surface, are truly quite flat. First and foremost, it should be known that their dual narration was very poorly written and if it were not for their names appearing before every chapter, I would not be able to tell them apart. Both of them lacked any true ‘voice’ which was quite disappointing. Over and above that though, Rachel came across as petulant and whiny more than kick-ass and Logan, for all his romantic moments, was also controlling and seemed to look down upon Rachel from time-to-time. Yet, what really sealed the deal was the fact that I simply wasn’t able to care for these two. In this novel, both Rachel and Logan go through dire circumstances, experience piercing grief, and come out stronger for it and while I read about all this happening to their character, I didn’t really feel any of it and was strangely withdrawn from this novel the entire time I read it. Even the romance, which I loved because of its slow build-up and interesting twists, was something I didn’t care for because it was the love story of Rachel and Logan. If you had inserted two different characters into this equation, I guarantee you that I would have been completely invested in it, especially as the story arc for it was so well-done.

Yet, even beyond the characters, what defines Defiance is its genre: fantasy. There is one thing, and one thing alone, which defines a novel as fantasy and that is world-building. Strangely enough though, I still know nothing about the world of Defiance! I read in another review that this was a futuristic realm where man had dug down so deep that they had awoken a beast, The Cursed One, who terrorized the people in this story, but this book could just as easily have been set in a fantasy realm or on another planet for all I know! It was simply very confusing and to add to that, the plot didn’t engage me in the least. It was fast-paced, but I found myself skimming through multiple chapters and I couldn’t feel the desperation of these people at all. It’s a horrible situation for sure, but the villain just made me feel like laughing with his clichéd plans and I really couldn’t summon up much feeling for this story even though I truly wanted to.
Overall, this story just lacked a lot. It lacked world-building, it lacked feeling, it lacked character depth and it now also lacks my stamp of approval. Defiance is a novel I know a lot of people will love and it’s honestly not that bad, but if you’re someone like me who has read fantasy novels on the levels of Melina Marchetta, Meghan Whalen Turner, Kristin Cashore, and Juliet Marillier, I’m afraid that this is going to be one giant bowl of disappointment.


  1. Lol, your mini-reviews are longer than my actual reviews, Keertana!

    I didn't like the writing style in Shatter Me too! The dash-through's and the too flowery vocab were annoying but I did like the story and the characters somehow. I haven't read Defiance yet but the reviews I read about it made the book sound so awesome so I was excited for it as well. Too bad you didn't like it though. :(

  2. Chel - I was laughing at the same thing, her minis are definitely the same length or longer than my normal reviews:)

    It took me a while to get used to the crossed out words and things in Shatter Me, they were definitely off-putting at first, but once I did I really enjoyed that one. I loved Defiance as well, I'm sorry neither book really worked for you Keertana! I hope you fall madly in love with the next book you pick up:)

  3. Sorry you didn't like these two books Keertana .. I've read really positive reviews on both of them so I still want to read them but I'll try to lower my expectations a bit. Thanks for the honest reviews :)

  4. *whispers* I enjoyed both of these books... ;) I actually agree with a lot of your points on Defiance though! I had some mixed feelings about that book and do hope the sequel is an improvement. Shatter Me was a much better book for me. While the strike-throughs and OTT metaphors took some time getting used to, it really worked for me in the end. It's always great to hear your thoughts, Keertana! I'm sorry these two books failed to impress, but lovely honest reviews. :)

  5. Aw Keertana I'm sorry to hear that neither of these worked out for you! I enjoyed Shatter Me for the most part, but those crossed-out sentences were super frustrating, I agree. I like my language flowery and distinctive if it serves a purpose, however, and I felt like Mafi definitely had a purpose in mind with Shatter Me and how Juliet's thoughts are all, well, shattered and jumbled apart and she'll really notice certain things in detail and all. Now that you mention it though, it does seem a bit like a romance packaged as a dystopian. That's a bit sad to realize. I haven't read Defiance, but I have heard so many negative reviews that I think I'm going to give it a pass. I appreciate reading your insightful thoughts, as always. :)

    1. Thanks Amanda! I'd recommend skipping Defiance too, but I totally see how you enjoyed Shatter Me. I wish I had liked it as well and I think I tend to be more critical of all these upcoming "dystomances" opposed to dystopian novels, so don't mind me. I can't wait to see what you make of the sequel!(:

  6. I didn’t really feel any of it and was strangely withdrawn from this novel the entire time I read it. YES. That is exactly ME. All this stuff happening to them and I'm just plodding along, wondering when it will end =\ I agree with every single thing you said; the lacking-a-distinct-voice POV, the villain, the romance, the worldbuilding. Which makes me sad, because I really wanted to enjoy it.

    I do feel differently to you on Shatter Me, though. I loved that and was completely pulled in by Tahereh's unique style. But I can ABSOLUTELY understand why it didn't work for you. It's definitely one of those 'love it or hate it' books.

    Fabulous reviews, Keertana! These ARE mini compared to your usual reviews, so be proud of your accomplishment :D

    1. Thanks Brodie!(: I'm glad you enjoyed Shatter Me, so maybe I'll return to it someday and fall in love with it. Defiance, on the other hand, was just so...meh. I hate being that black sheep, especially since like you, I wanted to enjoy it, but I just couldn't. *sigh* Perhaps the sequel will work out better for us? *shrug* We'll see...

  7. Haha, I also agree with Chel! Your mini reviews are longer than my normal ones! Haha, I don't blame you, though. Especially if the reviews are pretty negative. There's just so much to say, you know? Anyway, I'm sorry these two books weren't that great for you, Keertana. I do agree about some of the points in Shatter Me, though. It wasn't very dystopian and I didn't like how the relationship was the main focus.

  8. Keertana, even though I saw so many raving reviews for Shatter Me, as soon as I heard about the writing style, I was like "Uh ..." Lol, I just don't do flowery prose! I'm quite happy not having read it :)

    I do plan on reading Defiance though. But, most people seem to agree that it seems to be missing that little something extra to make it a memorable read.

  9. I'm sorry it wasn't for you, I haven't read them yet but heard great things about them, however, I don't know if it's for me. thanks for the 2 reviews.

  10. I think I rated both of these books 5 stars, Keertana. Lol! Sorry these didn't work out for you. I did like the writing style in Shatter Me. The cross outs, to me, signified her mental instability and isolation in the beginning. You'll notice they become less frequent as the story goes on and she gets around people again. Oh well, not all books are going to work for everyone. Love the mini-reviews. :)

  11. Sorry these were disappointing reads. Shatter Me seems to be a love it or hate it type book. I own Defiance but haven't had the chance to read it yet. I'll keep my expectations in check.

  12. I'm so sorry you found these books to be a disappointment Keertana, but I understand why they didn't work out for you. Here's to hoping your next couple of reads will be a lot more exciting! Wonderful mini-reviews darling! :)

  13. Oh I love you and your mini reviews that are still more detailed than so many people's 'normal' reviews! I knew Shatter Me wasn't for me as soon as I saw the strike out narrative style--just reading reviews of it made me twitch. Like you, I can see how people think it's cool, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't even have read it.

    You've made me quite happy I didn't pick up Defiance. In fact, just the title made me roll my eyes and think 'oh how this is going to fit so nicely into every current trend'. And it really sounds like that's what it did with some weird dystopian/fantasy hybrid and dual narration. I feel like I've been having that same reaction a lot--the 'this might be good to me if I hadn't read all of these others amazing authors' reaction.

    Sorry neither of these worked for you, but I'm happy for the confirmation that they wouldn't work for me either!

    1. Thanks Heidi! I wish I could have realized that quickly that Shatter Me wasn't for me, but I think it's simply a matter of perception and personal opinion really. I would definitely warn you away from Defiance, dear. I doubt you'd enjoy it, as much as I'd love to see another snarky review similar to Monstrous Beauty! ;)

  14. I read a couple reviews about how Defiance was a bunch of reviewers favorite fantasy book lately. I hadn't heard too much about it so I got really pumped. I have to admit that the more hype a book gets, the less I am excited to read it. (usually) For that reason, I haven't read Shatter Me either. I even saw Mafi at a book event and people are still talking about how lovely her writing style is. I just can't do it. I have a feeling it will be nominated for the Cybils this year which means, well, that I will be doing it:) Maybe Defiance will be nominated as well. I guess I'll find out!

  15. Oh dear, I just added Shatter Me to my wishlist and you made a point of flowery descriptions which I hate... I may try this, bu I'm more wary now...

    Defiance looks like it is getting booted off the wishlist. Characters without a voice sounds bad. I can't do with another bad book so I won't even bother to say it might be better for me.

    And world-building, I know how much you adore that and you're the first person I think of when I see the words world-building, so I think for Fantasy novels it has to be right even if I'm not into world-building as much as you.

    Lovely reviews, that have convinced me to stay away!

  16. Awwww, ouch, but I see what you're saying about Defiance. I liked it when I read it, but mostly because I like CJ's writing on the sentence level. Rachel and Logan never really coalesced for me and the world building was super minimal. It's a bit disappointing. I really hope the next one is better. I haven't read Shatter Me yet, but I've been hearing disappointing things.

    1. I'm glad you were able to enjoy Defiance, Christina! It's a wonderful novel for sure although I was disappointed by it. I think I'll check out your review of the sequel before deciding whether or not to pick it up. I'd recommend skipping Shatter Me, but it's a book everyone seems to differ upon, so maybe try out a few chapters and see what you think. I hope you enjoy it though!(:

  17. I HAVE V. MIXED FEELINGS OVER SHATTER ME! I was sooo excited for it, enjoyed it a lot, but then criticisms started rolling in and I could totally see where people are coming from. The writing can be a hit or miss. It's too purple prose-y at times but there are some nice passages there too, I think. I mean, it's obviously not going to win the Pulitzer or anything but IDK, I enjoyed it well enough. It's just one of those books if I actually THINK about it, I will probably hate it more, if that makes sense? I'm excited for the sequel though.

    Also I've been hearing mixed thing about Defiance. You're so right about the negative reviews rolling in after all the positive. I have it right now from the library but IDK, not exactly clamouring to read it.

  18. I'm really worried about Shatter Me, I wasn't ever going to read it, then I was convinced by a review to buy it and now I feel pressure to like it but I have read so many mixed thoughts on it :/

    Defiance is another one that I don't really think is for me, despite some very positive reviews. I really enjoy these mini reviews, K!

  19. You didn't like Shatter Me? Hmm. I don't know. MAYBE we can still be friends, but I'll have to think about it.
    Oh, I'm just kidding. I understand your points. The writing bothered me at first too, but I got used to it and eventually started to appreciate it, and she does tone it down in book 2.
    I guess I still love you. :)

  20. Keertana, you and I have the opposite problem! I'm trying to make my reviews longer and more eloquent, and you're trying to make your reviews shorter. Ha.

    I have to agree with you about Shatter Me, I really don't get the buzz. The writing was annoying, I didn't really like the MC, and the insta love was just a tad bit over the top for me. However, I do think the next book has some potential. We'll see.

    I just won Defiance, so I'll be checking that one out obviously. I've seen such awesome reviews for it that I'm disappointed you didn't like it! I can totally see WHY you wouldn't like it though, the problems you pointed out, like lack of world building and Rachel's whining sound pretty bad. Hopefully I can still end up enjoying it though!!

    Fabulous reviews Keertana! I'm sure you'll get better at writing mini reviews soon enough. ;)

  21. Yay, more mini-reviews! I love reading them, they're short and to the point yet with clearly and cohesively stated opinions.

    Neither Shatter Me and Defiance look like books for me. Sorry you didn't enjoy them either! And lovely mini-reviews, Kee. :)

  22. I was one that LOVED the style of Shatter Me, it worked incredibly well for me. I really felt like I was her and feeling her pain. I don't think I loved the insta love but I was able to overlook it because I loved the rest. However, I do know that it's not a book for everyone. I've read rave reviews and very negative ones as well.

    Defiance was on my list since I first heard of it but I never managed to get a review copy and then I started seeing loads of mixed reviews. Now I think I'll just hold off and probably won't read it unless it falls into my hands somehow. I'm still curious, but I'm definitely feeling wary about it.

  23. First, I agree. I love mini reviews. I tend to write a lot as well, but when I review a book I read a while ago, the review tends to be shorter and sometimes I think I'm better able to capture essential information that way.

    However, I loved Shatter Me. I enjoyed the writing style and even the cross outs. BUT I get what you're saying about it being a dystopian - romance. That is DEFINITELY true. Though I might argue against the insta-love a bit since the characters do have a history, though I will concede that they didn't interact much in that history (but I think they observed enough to have a high regard for each other). I'm hoping that we get more action in the next book (and if I'm honest, I want more romance as well). I also really liked Warner. I thought he was a very intriguing villain.

    I haven't read Defiance, though. But I've heard mixed things. And I LOVE Melina Marchetta and Juliet Marriler, so good to know that I should set my expectations lower if I read it.

  24. Oh nooooo! Keertana, I'm sorry you didn't love Shatter Me. I think it's totally one of those love/hate very polarising novels. I've seen a LOT of people (myself included) who LOVED it. I've seen a fair few who didn't. At all. SO get what you mean :)

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