I couldn’t quite pin down what I didn’t like about the first book because I read it very quickly and enjoyed it at the time, but reading this novella settled my feelings for me. Firstly purple prose. I have no problem with pretty things just for the sake of being pretty, but the writing in these books also makes very little sense. The sentences are short and constantly pulling you through motion which means you take everything in quickly and it’s over before you ever realize that her words don’t mean anything. The character’s feelings are all told to you, not shown. The environment, while dystopian in flavor, is a cardboard cutout, at best, of what a society like this would be. It has no distinction, no specific details that took any work to craft or construct.
One of my problems with Shatter Me was that the villain, Warner, is a villain without any motives. A villain for the sake of being a villain which pretty much made him confusing, and only sometimes threatening. Well this book is told from Warner’s perspective and the purple prose is minimal since we aren’t sitting in Juliette’s head, however it undermines everything Warner did in book one. I suppose that this in between volume is meant to make him a real candidate for an upcoming love triangle. But here’s the problem. He’s a completely two faced coward. The role reversal in this is a done a little too well. It basically takes every dark, uncomfortable thing he did in book 1 and turn it on it’s head. Remember when I shot this guy, oh well, he was a wife beating drunk so I shot him. Remember when I made you torture a small child for fear of him being skewered, well it was a simulation. ETC.
As readers we are meant to be oohing and aahing at how awesome Warner really is, because every terrible thing he does is just a fabricated version of himself. He hates himself so much that he fantasizes about killing himself, going so far as to simulate that experience. Even he calls himself a coward, because his motivation in life is to make everyone fear him so that he can maintain his seat of power over sector 45 and not garner his father’s hate or mistrust. Except that he already has that. His father is a worse version of Warner because by explaining that Warner isn’t really an evil guy, he’s just trying to survive by being a dick on the outside and a scared kid on the inside, we’ve moved all those scary villain feelings over to his father. But his father doesn’t have any discernible motivation either. He’s just the head of a cardboard dystopian government without any real explanations or motivations, other than power for the sake of power. Or at least that’s what it seems like but we don’t really know because everything we learn in the series is being told to us by the characters, it’s never shown through people actions, or their mannerisms, or their dialogue.
This series, is a fleshed out cardboard romance in a cardboard dystopian society, with cardboard characters.
Reading about Juliette from Warner’s perspective made me acutely aware that she doesn’t really do anything in the first book. Yeah she tries to keep people safe from her power, but she also thinks of herself as a worthless human being who would be better off dead, if not to protect others, than to end her horrible existence. What kind of role model is that?
I think what propels you through the first book is that for a very long time you don’t know why she’s in the asylum and you don’t who Adam Kent is and since it’s written in a very quick paced manner, you fly through trying to uncover the secrets. When you discover them, you’re deep in the middle of Warner’s games of killing and torturing people and generally making off the cuff sexual advances to Juliette, which makes no sense, and then they are flying through a window and escaping.
The only thing exceptional about this series is the pacing, if only because it keeps you from ever realizing that the characters have no depth.
I’ve changed my mind since the end of book 1, I won’t be continuing with book 2, even though they are fast reads. With some head space away from the characters, and then this step back into their world through Warner, I’ve come to the conclusion that none of them are very likable and these books are kind of trash.
It’s kind of the same away I felt about Twilight all those years ago, when I read it and liked it, and then came out on the other side, and realized it was just as crafted and fake, as this is. I feel duped. I won’t be doing this again.