The DNF Files: Shatter Me and the Purple Prose

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi cover

It has been a while since I D(id) N(ot) F(inish) a book, but in light of all the Top Ten Tuesday advice I read about cutting yourself a break and not reading things that don’t make you happy, I decided it was time to cut a few books loose.  Shatter Me is one book that I decided I really didn’t want to finish.

A lot of people loved this book and if you are looking for a real review of the whole book, I suggest you check out Lucy’s review.

I was unable to get past page 32 of this book because of the language.  To me this is a perfect example of purple prose.  I know that some people would find this writing style beautiful, but it made me roll my eyes.  Let me provide a brief example.  If this is something you dig, read this book.  If it is something that makes you gag, skip this book.

“The moon is a loyal companion.

It never leaves.  It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do.  Every day it’s a different version of itself.  Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light.  The moon understands what it means to be human.

Uncertain.  Alone.  Cratered by imperfections.” (page 26)

I stopped at this metaphor and thought, wow, that’s provocative, but somehow it is just too flowery and too angsty for my tastes.  I don’t think I could read this paragraph out loud without affecting a soap opera voice.  Ultimately, as much as I was interested in this story, I couldn’t get past the purple prose.

Does language ever make you put a book down?  Bonus points if you share your favorite example of purple prose.

15 thoughts on “The DNF Files: Shatter Me and the Purple Prose

  1. I actually love this kind of prose because I think it’s very powerful, but only when given in small doses. A number of reviews of Shatter Me really like it but then go on to say how it goes on like this all throughout the book and gets tiring after a while. Apparently the heroine is a Mary-Sue type character who, obvs, has all the boys lusting after her. Seems like a good think that you stopped where you did and I think I’ll just skip it for good measure.

    • Yeah, I think this is the sort of book that would really appeal to those people that like the fancy language and paranormal romance (from what I’ve read/heard), but apparently I am not one of those people. No use spending time on books that don’t make us happy!

  2. Oh yeah, language can bother me. Flowery, overly expressive language will usually turn me off of a book. I just want the author to get to the point!

    Guess I’ll be skipping this one.

  3. I used to feel bad about not finishing a book but now I just stop. There are so many books I have on my list that forcing myself to finish something just isn’t worth it. I also stopped feeling guilty about it. Some book just aren’t for me.

    • That’s a great attitude! I usually feel that way, but with blogging I see everyone getting so excited about a book and then I want in on the hype. I just have to let it go and know we will all get together and squee about something else soon enough!

  4. I hate the lackadaisical ennui of a sun too preoccupied with itself to notice the infinite hours we spend in its presence.

    That’s my fave quote from Shatter Me. Seriously she had me (rolling on the floor) at ‘lackadaisical ennui’.

    Agree about stopping if you aren’t enjoying something. When I first started blogging I put a lot of pressure on myself to finish everything but there are too many good books to waste time on stuff you don’t like.

  5. Oh that example cracks me up! My co-blogger and I frequently have to reassure each other that its okay to quit books. We both have the problem of once you start, you feel like you have to finish it, like you keep telling yourself it just has to get better, it’s just a slow start, the character is annoying, but you’ll get over it…blah blah blah. I did that with the second in the “Forest of Hands and Teeth” book. The Dead Tossed Waves, it was. I made it through Hands and Teeth and felt compelled to read Dead Tossed Waves. DNF! I don’t have it with me, so I can’t give examples, but I think ample blame could be placed on Purple Prose. I remember thinking..”oh just get to the point already!”. I also liked “Across the Universe,” felt compelled to read the second one in that series, too. A Million Suns. DNF. I don’t know if it was the writing or what. I just wanted the characters to stop pissing and moaning and DO something. I could have also been in the wrong mood, but I won’t get the books again to try to prove myself wrong.

    • It is pretty liberating to give yourself permission to not read something that you don’t like… as in, I am so glad I decided to not spend more time wading through Shatter Me only to end up hating it. This way I can just say I reserve judgment!

  6. I have no problem DNF-ing books. In fact, this was one of them. And for people who keep on telling me this is beautiful language, I smile politely while judging them on the inside. Haha. The book was such a mess. I couldn’t stand it. It felt like someone was continuing dragging a screeching chalk down a blackboard. *shudder*

  7. You’re spot-on of course, Elizabeth – it took me a while to get into the language (and I didn’t like it at first) but I did admire the author for trying something a bit different, and making an effort. It’s very “purple” but sometimes I found a really nice line.

    I have a post in the making of six books I’ve given up on in the last year. It takes me months to admit defeat on a book because I hate not finishing them (with books I’m not liking, I still like to have an opinion on them and feel like I should finish it in order to have one!).

    • I also feel like I have to finish to have an official opinion about a book and there are some flaws that I can overlook and push through, but this language was just not one of those things. I always have to remind myself that I spent years in school reading things because I had to and that now if I don’t want to read something, I don’t have to. It doesn’t always work, but the fact that I have to return books to the library helps me make a decision, too!

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