Friday, November 18, 2011

Hype-Worthy or Not (1)

As book bloggers, we tend to be more aware of upcoming books than your average Joe. We pour over catalogs, follow publishers on twitter and elsewhere, talk about books online, read a myriad of other book review blogs, and generally have our fingers on the pulse of our favorite genres.

Needless to say, we see a lot of hype for various books. Sometimes those books are so amazing, they deserve the million-dollar PR campaign their publishers gave them. Sometimes...not so much. It's a quirk of mine but I tend to be a bit resistant to books that are, in my opinion, over-hyped. A lot of times, they disappear into my TBR pile because I've seen so much hype, I just don't want to read it (I do this with movies and TV shows, too. Yes, I'm a weirdo.). But many times, I can't resist their siren call.

SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi
YA Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic
338 pages
Available now
Review copy provided by publisher via Amazon Vine

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.

This book absolutely blew me away. A fast, thrilling read, it throws you directly into Juliette's head and into her dilemma. And what a dilemma it is -- she can't touch anyone without killing them in a horribly painful way. She's stuck in a cell, no contact with anyone for longer than I can imagine until they stick a boy in there with her. Amazingly, this girl is not insane and, despite all that's been done to her, she's still a caring and rather innocent individual. I think that's what appealed to me the most. She wasn't a hardened, bad-ass. She was a sweet girl who cared about people and wasn't jaded by her experiences. 

The way the author wrote this I LOVED it! She's a goddess of the metaphor, throwing them around like beads off a Mardi Gras float (I know, I know. That's a simile, not a metaphor.). And then there's the strikethrough. An unusual yet creative and effective way to show what Juliette really says versus what she thinks. I believe it also shows how careful the people of this society have to be with their words, editing everything they think and tailoring it to suit the situation.

470 pages
Available now
Review copy provided by publisher via Amazon Vine

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

Why didn't I like this one, despite the hype and so many others loving it (and there are a lot of people who loved it--be sure to read their reviews, too!)? Well, the story's written in too many different points of view, especially from characters I didn't care so much about. If the story were told only from Nora and Bram's changing points of view, I might have been enthralled. But Mr. Dearly, Patricia, the bad guy...too many. It just wasn't focused and so, I lost my focus.

Then there's the worldbuilding. An interesting concept but a bit too mish-mash for me. It was touted as a steampunk novel but really, it wasn't. There was a bit of the Victorian element, a bit of the cool machine element, but then it went astray. Even though this story was incredibly creative and I really did like the two main characters, I think I needed it to be more streamlined. *sigh* I really wanted to like this one!


  1. So glad you enjoyed Shatter Me Mary! I really enjoyed that one too and she definitely had some epic metaphors in there and I just loved the way she told Juliette's story. I haven't tried Dearly, Departed, but multiple POVs are always challenging for me as well.

  2. This is an interesting feature. I like that you gave us something you loved and something that just wasn't for you.

    You're right about Mafi being a "goddess of metaphor". Shatter Me really was amazing.

    I haven't read Dearly Departed but it stinks you weren't crazy about it. I didn't know it was written in so many perspectives. Thanks for the great review!

  3. So I pretty much completely agree with you!! I really adored 'Shatter Me' and 'Dearly, Departed' not so much. It was okay, and I really liked the concept, but the POVs totally did me in. Way too many, and I just didn't care about anyone besides Bram and Nora.

    Hype is a scary thing sometimes... I worry that some books I probably would have liked more if I hadn't heard that they were the Best Book Ever. But who knows, maybe my tastes are the same either way, because with Divergent and Shatter Me there was intense hype, yet I still thought they were brilliant. Interesting to think about...

  4. Book-hype cuts both ways---sometimes it gets me really pumped for a book, but lately I think I'm judging books more harshly just because they dont' line up with the superhuman expectations I have for them. :-)

  5. Eeek! I keep hearing great things about Shatter Me. I really need to grab myself a copy!

  6. I'm like that, too, which is why I was reluctant to read the Hunger Games at first. I really loved Dearly, Departed, though. I'm posting my review on Monday! (:

  7. I am in complete agreement with you on Shatter Me! I loved that book to pieces! It's a bummer about Dearly Departed, though...I've been wanting to read it because of all the good things I've heard!

  8. The different viewpoints in Dearly, Departed were really confusing to me as well. If they would have stuck with Bram and Nora it would have definitely been a lot better. :)

    Shatter Me is AMAZING! That is all. :)

    Great post!

  9. Love this feature! Mainly because I like to hear that I'm not the only one who didn't find a hyped book for me :)

  10. This is very interesting.
    usually dystopian, no matter how praised, aren't that buzz worthy for me since it's not my genre. I like romantic, cute stuff more, but a lot of people don't care for that much. :D

  11. It kind of depends on the reader too, doesn't it? Because, for example, Sarah can read anything and hype doesn't affect her, but Kristan gets really cynical about hype and has a hard time enjoying any book that is supposed to be "the best thing EVAR." (She didn't even like Harry Potter at first!)

  12. Shatter me is probably one of my favorite books of 2011! I love the writing, too! It was just SO amazing. I have Dearly, Departed on my Nook and though I still want to read it the switching POVs will probably bother me. Great feature!

  13. Shatter Me was definitely gorgeously written...and thanks for the heads up about DD, I don't think that will be a story for me (I'm not a fan of multiple POV's at all)