August 21, 2012 § 5 Comments
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Monument 14 takes place in small town Colorado where 14 kids, ranging in ages from 5 to 16-17 find themselves trapped in a Greenway store while the world falls apart around them. On a seemingly normal day, Dean and his tech-savvy little brother Alex race to catch their school bus. On the way to school, crushing oversize hail begins denting the roof of the bus, breaking the windows, and in an effort to get the kids to safety, the two school buses quickly go to the Greenway store, which seems to be like a super Walmart. Once inside, the bus driver goes to find help and the 14 kids find themselves alone in the store as the riot gates come down essentially trapping them inside, which may be a good thing since they soon find out that a series of natural, and not-so-natural disasters are tearing the US to pieces around them. The Greenway store might be the safest place to be, unless they fall apart themselves.
The plot was pretty fast paced. It definitely kept me reading up into the wee hours of the night. The story had a sort of Lord of the Flies feel with the older kids having a power struggle about who would be in charge and how best to survive. I very much enjoyed the whole concept of the story while the execution sometimes left a little to be desired. Nonetheless, Monument 14 certainly kept me on the edge of my seat.
The story is told from the perspective of Dean, a bookish teen who is chronicling the events as they unfold. The interaction between all of the characters was fascinating. There is one particular character, a 5 or 6 year old named Max who told some of the most outlandish stories about his life. While there were a few crushes and hookups among the older teens, there wasn’t any real romance in this story, although it seemed to be heading in that direction.
The writing sometimes fell a bit short for me. I felt like using the teenage Dean to narrate the story was a way to compensate for less than stellar writing. The story felt choppy in places and jumped around a bit and I would have liked to seen some more character development in the older teens. However, as you see by my 4 star rating, I truly enjoyed Monument 14 and I won’t hesitate to pick up the next in the series. There was quite a cliffhanger ending and not much was resolved in this book, which is a pet peeve of mine and I considered only rating this 3 stars because of that. But I didn’t simply because I really liked this book, despite its flaws.
November 9, 2011 § 20 Comments
Author – Tahereh Mafi
Publisher – Harper Collins
Date – November 15, 2011
Shatter Me introduces us to Juliette as she sits in solitary confinement in what seems to be a mental asylum, counting the days (264) since she’s seen, heard, or been touched by another human. The world outside those four walls (with 14 cracks) has gone insane, people starving to death, whole species of animals no longer exist, and the people in power call themselves the Reestablishment. The Reestablishment…these are the people who drug her away to this place for a murder she didn’t mean to commit, to a fate she’s sure she deserves, to be trapped by her guilt as much as by the prison walls. The power she holds within her very skin is one she doesn’t want and she will do anything to disprove the notion that she is a monster, even though she herself believes it. She maintains her tenuous hold on sanity by writing in her notebook and refusing to allow herself to acknowledge the thoughts that sometimes overwhelm her. When she awakes one day to find herself with a cellmate, her entire world begins to change.
The writing style of Shatter Me was like none I’ve read before, both haunting and at times a bit overwhelming. Written in an almost lyrical or poetic prose, Juliette’s inner thoughts and feelings were often uncomfortably intense, which would be understandable considering the situation she was in. Many of her words/thoughts were written and then struck out, as if she were refusing to allow herself to acknowledge those thoughts. I thought this was a powerful way to show how she was struggling to hold onto her sanity. As she began to have more human interaction, the strikethroughs became less common. It was such a fascinating progression. While, for the most part, I thought the writing was beautiful, there were also times when it felt like overkill and it became a bit tedious. Overall though, I enjoyed the unique imagery and the flow of the words.
“I always wonder about raindrops.
I wonder how they are always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. Its like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn’t seem to care where the contents fall, doesn’t seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the raindrops dare to tap on their doors.
I am a raindrop.
My parents emptied their pockets of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab.”
The story itself was intense and reminded me very much of Xmen. Juliette’s power is reminiscent of Rogue and many of her characteristics also reminded me of Rogue from Xmen. The plot was action packed and thrilling. The villain, Warner, was out of his mind and made an even more effective bad guy because of the hint of a hidden past that may explain why he is the wicked boy he’s become. Happily, this did not become a love triangle since Warner is simply too psychotic to engender much sympathy from Juliette. The interplay between Juliette and Adam was extremely well done. This is a romance that I can believe. Things between them tend to get pretty steamy a couple times, but Mafi reins it in and manages to keep it PG. The ending also reminded me a lot of Xmen and has me incredibly excited about the sequel.
Overall, I think that Shatter Me has lived up to all the hype. Most readers will enjoy the intense and original writing style as well as the exciting premise, a steamy romance, and a villain you love to hate. In the sequel, I hope to see more details about the dystopian world and how it became that way and more about the two factions, the Reestablishment and the people who are not ready to succumb to that tyrannical rule and of course more Adam and Juliette! I would recommend Shatter Me to readers who enjoy dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction, fans of Xmen, and anyone who enjoys a thrilling YA adventure.
I somehow ended up with two ARCs of Shatter Me so I decided to give one away to one of my lucky readers. I will be shipping this myself so this will be US only. You do not have to be a follower to enter but following is appreciated! Extra entries for sharing the giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc. (leave me the link) and for commenting on yesterday’s discussion question located here.
You have from today (November 9) until Monday (November 14) at 11:59 PM to enter. Winner will be announced on Shatter Me’s release date, Tuesday November 15. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form, if you have any problems please email me. Good Luck!!