Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5) by Tahereh Mafi
3 out of 5 stars
This novella-length story, written from the obsessive antagonist Warner’s point of view, share his perspective on Juliette’s imprisonment, escape, and the events that follow, leading up to the sequel.
She is a soft, deadly creature. Kind and timid and terrifying. She’s completely out of control and has no idea what she’s capable of. And even though she hates me, I can’t help but be fascinated by her.
I read Shatter Me back in March and the things that really stuck out in my mind were Juliette’s unique voice as she suffered through incarceration, and the complete and utter psychosis of the villain, Warner. This book brought together the best of both those worlds, letting the reader see into the twisted workings of Warner’s mind. It revealed him to be a more complex character than I had initially seen, and helped fill in some of the world-building gaps from the first book.
I do, however, wish I had re-read Shatter Me before this one; I had a hard time remembering much beyond the basic plot and the three main characters. Some of the language was a little “purple prose”-y for what I imagined Warner to be like… sure, he’s broken inside on so many levels, but I guess I thought his inner dialogue would be more straightforward and orderly, and less… flowery. Also, heads up, he has some rather graphic fantasies about Juliette, though they were short and therefore pretty easy to skip over.
Overall: Builds more on the world of the series and Warner’s characterization, but doesn’t really add a lot that we didn’t already know.
I want to give the first half of this book four stars, but only two stars to the second half.
What I liked about the first half…
It starts out with Juliette incarcerated, half-crazy from isolation and fear, all because of her ability to injure or even kill people with her touch. The first-person point of view is VERY effective here, and the author uses some interesting devices to show her state of mind — repetition of words and phrases, strike-throughs marking out things that she doesn’t want to think about or remember, some really interesting metaphors, and certain motifs hidden within the narration (things being cracked or shattered, the birds, etc). As the story progresses, she’s taken into possession by the psychotic, power-hungry dictator of the district, who is infatuated with her and her ability, and wants her to become his personal plaything/weapon. The way that the voice of the narration changes as she progresses from fear to anger to reluctant acceptance and love for her new-found ally really made the story interesting to read, and kept me wanting to read just one more chapter.
I really wish the story would have stopped at about the halfway point. There’s a moment of resolution and hope, and it would have been a good stopping point… but, the book continues on.
Even though there was more action in the second half than the first, I found it less interesting. I’ll also admit, I got kind of sick of the narrator’s descriptions of her love interest and their PG-13 displays of affection; it became a bit awkward to read. Not only that, he went from being kind of mysterious and somewhat haunted, yet compassionate, to basically being Mr. “Gorgeous” Perfect-Boyfriend Teenage Heartthrob; he seemed to lose a lot of depth of character and now only served as the object of the protagonist’s affection and her protector. I feel like his character had a lot of potential, but then as soon as he rescued her, he became entirely one-dimensional. By this point, the narration was that of a typical YA novel and a lot of the poetic language from the first half of the book was lost. The end of the novel set it up for a sequel, and frankly was a bit cliche and predictable, which was kind of disappointing coming from a book that started out so promisingly different.