Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi (author website)
Release Date: 15th Nov. 2011 from Harper/HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopia/Paranormal Twist
I’m not sure how to put voice to my thoughts on Shatter Me. Undoubtedly the most hyped debut of this year, I had very high expectations from Tahereh Mafi’s offering. And it exceeded all of them—over and over and over again. Guys? I think I’m in luuurrve.
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.
So much has been said about Shatter Me, and while I was expecting it to be good, I was shocked at just how good. I think I must have read the whole book either holding my breath or gasping. I was sucked in by Juliette’s voice, and I still can’t get it out of my head—I keep hearing her thoughts whirring around my brain. Shatter Me is so many things: exciting, breathtaking, and a beautiful journey of self discovery, but, ultimately, it’s about learning to love yourself.
The stand out of Shatter Me, what makes it so exceptional and SO amazing, is Mafi’s writing. Flowing, gripping stream-of-consciousness, Tahereh Mafi puts you in Juliette’s head, and it’s remarkable. I couldn’t escape. The book is peppered with
struck out thoughts, words and lines of text. All the things racing through Juliette’s head that she can’t admit to herself, that she wants to say and can’t bring herself to, or can’t allow herself to indulge in.
I ♥ Juliette
I loved the quiet parts of Shatter Me, when little was happening. Whether it was Juliette and Adam just being together, or Juliette and Juliette, her thoughts whirring and circling and misfiring. When you’ve lived a life in isolation, the only company you have is yourself, and Juliette’s mind is fascinating. She counts everything: days, minutes, seconds, fingers on hands, cracks in walls, words spoken or left unsaid. She’s compelling, real, fragile, but with a molten core of fiery courage and strength that she’s only just beginning to discover herself. The images she paints with her words are evocative, vibrant and beautiful, and I’ve never ever enjoyed being in a character’s head so much as I did hers. Where she should be bitter, and, in part, I suppose she is, she still hopes. She hasn’t allowed the abuse she’s suffered to crystallise into hatred. I feel cheesy saying this, but Juliette is genuinely inspirational.
“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
Given it’s YA, I was surprised by the level of sexual tension and heat in this book. Though they’re never gratuitous or graphic, the pages Juliette share with her love interest, Adam, crackle with electricity.
“I’m oxygen and he’s dying to breathe.”
Imagine, your whole life, never knowing the touch of another human being. One of the most basic facts of life we take for granted. And then you can. Juliette discovering touch for the first time in her life is magical. It’s like hearing music for the first time, or tasting chocolate, but a thousand times more potent and powerful.
“You can’t touch me,” I whisper. I’m lying, is what I don’t tell him. He can touch me, is what I’ll never tell him. Please touch me, is what I want to tell him.”
Scarily Close To Home:
Of the dystopians I’ve read, Shatter Me is the most real. I believed it, and I was frightened to see a very possible future for our own world. Global warming is reality, famine has taken hold, and so have all the superbugs and diseases we fear. The world of Shatter Me is already a reality in parts of ours today. Places exist in our world where people can’t afford to eat, there is no clean water, where crops are too expensive to grow, medical care is unattainable, and government is corrupt. How many times have we seen corrupt regimes overthrown, to be replaced with one just as bad? It scared me, because I was reading it going, ‘oh my goodness, this could really happen. It has happened.’ This is happening in our world today, and is what has happened in Shatter Me. For me, it brought the reality of Juliette’s world home.
My only negative with Shatter Me is that, for me, the ending felt a little flat and anti-climactic. The book is really largely insular: Juliette’s internal struggles, her dealing with inner changes and turmoil, and thiscomes to a very satisfying conclusion. Julietter grows a lot over the course of Shatter Me. But there is obviously a storyline involving external conflict and peril, and it felt like there was a lot of build towards something that comes and goes very quickly. This is followed by what I’d normally think was a quick denouement, but kept on going for another few chapters. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVED it, but I want more!
I can’t get Juliette’s voice out of my head. I can’t stop wondering what’s next, and I keep finding myself daydreaming, staring out windows in wonder at how lucky I am for the world around me. Unlike The Hunger Games, to which this has been compared again and again, and to which Shatter Me easily stands up to, Shatter Me doesn’t leave me with a stomach full of lead. It never felt bleak. It left me with hope. It deserves the hype.
Shatter Me is, in a word, magnificent.