Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi (author website)
Release Date: 15th Nov. 2011 from Harper/HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopia/Paranormal Twist
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star5 star

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.

From Goodreads:
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.”

Phwoar!

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.

The Verdict:

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.

23 thoughts on “Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi

  1. @Rachel: I was actually kind of dubious about Shatter Me, because of the hype. I had really high expectations, to the point I didn’t think it was possible anything could live up to them, and it seriously exceeded them. I hope you love it as much as I did :D

    @Molly: Hehe, I’m glad! I aim to please XD And I seriously LOVE your blog! You have fab taste in books.

  2. Thanks for sharing your amazing review! I always worry when books are so hyped up…it’s hard for them to live up to my expectations if I constantly hear how amazing they are. I’m so glad to hear that this one DID live up the hype and I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for stopping by my blog, following you now too!

  3. @Cecilia: I so hope you do. I really, really felt it was worth all the hype!

    @Jamie: Thanks for reading it! I was really worried about the hype… Although I was skeptical, I think I was also willing to love it, if you know what I mean? But oh my goodness, it sucked me in from page one, and drove me crazy. I stayed up till 3 in the morning reading it. I couldn’t put it down!

  4. You are sooo lucky to have read Shatter Me already! All the reviews I’ve read about it are all praises, so now my expectations are really high! :) Amazing review, now I really wanna read it! PHWOAR! XD lol, Juliette sounds like an awesome heroine!

    *sees Name my Blog contest* Oooh! I love a good challenge! :D *gets to work thinking of a name*

  5. @Sabrina & Chrissie: I SO hope you both like it. Now I’m worried I’ve built it up too much, but I really, REALLY loved it! I had high expectations, but I was willing to kind of ignore the hype and enjoy it for myself. It’s Mafi’s writing that’s the standout in Shatter Me, more than any other aspect :)

    @Jenelle: I dropped everything (including Beautiful Chaos, and I LOVE Garcia/Stohl) to read it! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    @Jennifer: Thanks you! I loved it. Mafi’s writing is just beautiful. So fresh and unique and raw. <3 <3 <3

  6. Awesome review! I really cannot wait to read this myself. I’m desperately hoping my copy will arrive later this week! So far, the only thing negative I think I’ve heard is the part you mentioned as well about the ending. Aww, now I’m even more excited!

  7. I was completely in luuurve with Shatter Me, too! <3 I completely agree with you on Juliette. She was so awesome! And ADAM. *Swoon* Loved that kid. Thanks for the review! :)

  8. Dear! I love your review!! Hell! I couldn’t agree with you more! The evocative writing is something that I really love too! Though this changes through the book as well as Juliette. So it makes a lot of sense. There is an evolution in the characters as well as the writing. So smart! And about being “the closest to home: Good Lord!! I agree! a lots from this book touched me! And about the closing, well….I think the same…the comic boob stuff was way too alien from what was the rest of the book. I felt it as an awkward twist XD. (Now that you mention it) Yet, because all the book had such impact on me, I cant never ever be able to give it less than 5 stars!! I think the huge twist is not enough to make me feel this book deserve less than all my love/obsession XDDD

    Excellent and wonderful review my Dear!! =D well said!

    Btw dear, So COOL yOu are a vegetarian too!! hohohohooho!!!

    Happy reading ^_^
    Dazzling Reads

  9. @Rebecca: I hope you get it SOON! It’s really, REALLY good!!

    @Lauren: OMG! Yes! Adam is. just. SQUEE! And I like that he’s just awesome for being who he is–it’s not about super powers, or anything else :D

    @Natalia: You’re going to make me blush :D
    I mean, I did *enjoy* the ending, it just felt a little odd :)

  10. Pingback: Unravel Me (The Juliette Chronicles #2), Tahereh Mafi |` saz101

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