Thursday, November 24, 2011

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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 a
nymore, 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.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel. (summary from Goodreads)

Shatter Me is a mind-blowing read. For Mafi's writing alone I'd recommend this book...though there's definitely more to it!

Juliette's touch kills. After a tragic accident, her parents and the new upcoming government, The Reestablishment, lock her away. After complete isolation for 264 days, she gets a new roommate. Adam Kent. A boy she's watched and loved from afar for years before her imprisonment. The one boy she wishes she could touch. But Adam is not what he seems. A soldier for The Reestablishment, he works for Warner, leader of one of the government's armies, who covets Juliette and her power. He wants her by his side. But why? And what is Adam's role in all of it? Almost free in a world she barely recognises, Juliette has no idea what to believe or who to trust.

I have never read anything like Shatter Me. Sure, a broken world, a controlling government, characters with special powers...these elements are familiar, but Mafi's writing style is just so unique that it hands down gives Shatter Me a distinct originality. I can not get over Mafi's writing. It is just so sublime, and completely made the book a quick favourite for me. Sometimes I marvel at how authors are able to say so much with so little, and there are cases of that here. Most obvious is the use of the strikethrough text to highlight what Juliette is thinking but unable to voice. At first it was a little offputting, but in actuality it is something so simple yet completely effective. I loved how it clearly established Juliette's development through the book too, in that there's a lot of it to begin with but so little towards the end as Juliette comes into herself. But what leaves me more in awe is Mafi's descriptions and how sometimes the littlest and simplest thing was made poetic. Shatter Me is filled with these descriptions that are breathtaking and that honestly left me speechless. I just have to give an example of my favourite.

"Heat rushes up my neck and I fall off a ladder holding a paintbrush dipped in red." p. 225

Descriptions like these often had me pausing to reread the same sentence over and over again, both marvelling and savouring Mafi's prose. I will go so far as to say that Mafi's writing is a work of art, with how wonderfully and wholly it stirred my imagination. Seriously, I could gush all day.

With such a standout writing style I'm not shocked that reactions and connections to characters and plot were practically instantaneous. As the story is told from the point of view of Juliette, and as in love as I am with the writing, it's no surprise that I feel pretty strongly for her. While I can't even begin to imagine surviving what Juliette has and does, her vulnerability and strength screamed to me. I also adored Adam, which is no wonder I suppose. Dashing and loyal heroes always win me over, and Adam is definitely a such a hero. At first I will admit to some distrust, but his relationships, not with just Juliette, but James and Kenji, cemented my like of him. Shatter Me offered some intriguing hints about Adam, so I'm interested to see where Mafi will take his story. Another character to be mentiond is, of course, Warner. Here is where my opinion may differ from some. Sure, he's good looking, a little charming, and despite being the villian I've read a lot of comments about how some simply can't help but love him. Me? Can't stand the guy. I find him so creepy he sends chills down my spine! In saying that, kudos to Mafi for creating this fantastic character because he really stands out. While I may not have much love for him, exactly, I'm thrilled he's a villian worth hoping for the demise of...and I so am!

Mafi's portrayal of Juliette's world is definitely a bleak one, expected of it's dystopian genre. Though maybe not entirely unique, I still find this element a compelling one and enjoyed Mafi's take on it. There's plenty of questions left unanswered about this new world and it's history. We learn as Juliette does, and I get the feeling that even the characters that seem to know the truth still have something to learn. Of course, I could simply be reading into it too far...though I don't doubt Mafi has some shocks to deliver in future books, in any case. I can't wait.

Shatter Me is a must read. It's really that simple. A quick and astonishing read, you'll spiral through it and come out in need of the second book.


Publisher: Harper (US) / Allen & Unwin (Aust)
Published date: November 2011
Pages: 338

Challenges: 2011 Debut Author Challenge;


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