Title: Destroy Me (Shatter Me, 1.5)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperTeen, 2012
Genre: YA Dystopian, YA Science Fiction, YA Novella
The book is so short I couldn’t even put it in a “Currently Reading for Review” post. It’s a novella set between the events of Shatter Me and Ignite Me, but from Warner’s POV (he’s the “bad guy”). I’m not too keen on novellas and rarely read them, but it was available at the library and gave me a glimpse into the workings of the supposedly evil Warner, who kidnaps Juliette to make her the ultimate weapon because her touch can kill.
Btw, there’s really no “spoilers” here because this 111 page novella just gives a glimpse into what Warner does while trying to find the missing Juliette. This is safe to read after reading Shatter Me. If you haven’t read that, then yes, there might be some spoilers.
I actually liked it, because it made me understand and actually sympathize with the villain. Lots of times we think of them as soulless or just purely evil. But as we learned from Fairest, the book in The Lunar Chronicles that takes us back to Queen Levana before the main story takes place, the villain usually has a small nugget of good inside of them…but it has been warped over time. There rarely is such a thing as a truly evil villain, and books that have them show such a one-dimensional character. A dynamic character has some sort of internal struggle or turmoil, and Destroy Me allows us to see that part of Warner:
I only wanted to watch her interact with someone. I wondered if she’d seem different; if she’d shatter the expectations I’d already formed in my mind by simply having a normal conversation. But watching her talk to someone else made me crazy. I was jealous. Ridiculous. I wanted her to know me; I wanted her to talk to me. And I felt it then: this strange, inexplicable sense that she might be the only person in the world I could really care about.
Warner starts to realize that he is jealous of Juliette and Adam. He knows he feels something for Juliette, but he’s not sure what, and he’s angry that she has gone off with Adam instead of staying with him. Warner seems to think Juliette might be able to connect with him and that they would understand each other, and we see start to see the similarities between their childhoods:
There was a time when things were better, when my father wasn’t always so angry. I was about four years old then. He used to let me sit on his lap and search his pockets. I’d get to keep anything I wanted as long as my argument was convincing enough. It was his idea of a game.
But this was all before.
His father is an evil man, and really is the type of one-dimensional bad guy that enjoys torturing his son. He smiles while choking him during one part of the novella, and we see why Warner is so broken:
On the battlefield, I’m able to disconnect myself from the motions I’ve been taught to memorize. I’ve developed a reputation as a cold, unfeeling monster who fears nothing and cares for less.
But this is all very deceiving.
Because the truth is, I am nothing but a coward.
He puts up a strong façade to make himself feared, but he wishes mainly that he would just die and not have to live to see the suffering that he has put people through. I started to really feel bad for him and understood that all he really needs is someone to just love him.
When he finds Juliette’s journal from the time she was in the asylum, he can’t help but read every page, every single passage:
It’s strange being in her head without being able to see her. I feel like she’s here, right in front of me. I feel like I now know her so intimately, so privately. I’m safe in the company of her thoughts; I feel welcome, somehow. Understood. So much so that some days I manage to forget that she’s the one who put this bullet hole in my arm.
I almost forget that she still hates me, despite how hard I’ve fallen for her.
And I’ve fallen.
He’s smitten: and because of this, he is losing control. He sums it up in a perfectly beautiful way (I can’t help quoting because it just shows so much about his character:
I’ve felt shame and cowardice, weakness and strength. I’ve known terror and indifference, self-hate and general disgust. I’ve seen things that cannot be unseen. And yet I’ve known nothing like this terrible, horrible, paralyzing feeling. I feel crippled. Desperate and out of control. And it keeps getting worse. Every day I feel sick. Empty and somehow aching.
Love is a heartless bastard.
I’m driving myself insane.
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Yes, but it would only work in context with the other book. Otherwise, reading it would make no sense. So I would skip this novella for anything but a case study in “bad guy” behavior. For narrative writing, this can be an effective tool. This prevent young writers (and older ones, too) from falling into the trap of making your antagonist static instead of dynamic. It’s good to have a complex character as the villain. It makes them more interesting.
I would say the same for Shatter Me, which is 14 and up. Lexile.com has it at that age, with a score of HL650L. So obviously for mature readers even though the reading content is easy enough for younger readers. (This is common as I have mentioned the meaning of the HL in the scores before…but just in case, I always try to include an explanation for it). But this novella is too short to include anything offensive or inappropriate: however, it is attached to a series meant for a YA age range of 14 and up.
Reading this has sparked my interest in finishing the Shatter Me series. I have the next book, but I’ve been trying to go in order of due date, and this one just happens to be due back in 2 days. So I got it read, and now I can return it because others are waiting for it. (I’m a compassionate reader, you know…I know how it feels to be waiting for a title for FOREVER, so once a book is done I return it ASAP)
Are any of you planning to read Shatter Me? If you do, read this novella. I don’t know if I’ll make a habit of it, but the premise on this one was just too tempting…so read this afterward to help you gain some insight into Warner’s mind!
★★★★★. Even though it’s a novella. It was just so worth my time, so I have to give it a fair rating!!
*This covers my #ReadThemAllThon badge for Cerulean City*
It did not make me cry, but I thought it would. Two badges down…