Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
You don’t want to touch Juliette. Her touch is
lethal power. As a baby, her touch caused her mother and father intense pain, so they shunned her. Then one day she saw a mother hurting a young boy and she reached out to hurt him help him. He ended up dead. She has spent the last few years in some type of facility in isolation – and then he shows up.
First Lines: “I’ve been locked up for 264 days.
I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company. 1 window. 4 walls, 144 square feet of space. 26 letters in an alphabet I haven’t spoken in 264 days of isolation. 6,336 hours since I’ve touched another human being.”
Shatter Me is set in a dystopian future where food is scarce, animals are scarcer and people are hanging on just to survive. The government regime is trying to
control the people maintain the peace in that special way that crazy power hungry people try to do. Enter Warner (not the he mentioned above, but an important he none the less). Warner is obsessed with Juliette, with her power gift. He thinks that Juliette is like him and will want to join him to use her power. He thinks that he loves her. He thinks that she can love him.
When Adam is thrust into her
cell room, everything changes for Juliette. Suddenly, she might have a reason to live. Adam sees the good in Juliette – she has this power but doesn’t use it. Adam may be the only person who doesn’t care about her power, but about her.
Shatter Me is a stunning love story set in a bleak future. Juliette has grown up shunned and, at times, in complete isolation so she has a certain amount of naivete. Throughout the course of the novel she grows into her own and makes a believable transformation from a young girl with a power to a powerful young lady. Juliette has a unique voice that is demonstrated by showing both the thoughts that she thinks and the thoughts that she is trying not to think – those thoughts appear as crossed out text. This was such an interesting story telling device; we all have those thoughts that bubble to our surface that we try and hold down and Shatter Me lets you see them, and feel them, in a unique way:
“Not me. Not
something someone like me. But then, they never believed anything I said. That’s exactly why I’m here.” – page 6.
“He doesn’t touch me and I’m
disappointed happy he doesn’t. I wish he would. He shouldn’t. No one should ever touch me.” – page 18.
Part of the beauty of Shatter Me is the way in which Mafi writes; there is intense longing and sizzling tension between Juliette and Adam, a strong yearning that oozes right off of the page. This is not, however, the instalove/lust so common in teen fiction. No, it is the product of two aching souls who felt each other’s pain in the distance. It is the longing of two outsiders, rejected by the very people who are supposed to love them, just wanting to reach out and connect with the only goodness they see left in a dying world. As a romance, Shatter Me succeeds and engrosses in ways that many romances fail to.
In the end Shatter Me takes some unexpected turns that change the story dramatically. It will be interesting to see what happens next. I had mixed emotions about the twist as it took a unique and well told story and put it back in some familiar, though still very entertaining, territory and immediately brought to mind a very popular comic book/movie franchise. In the end, the character is so appealing and the writing is so powerful and unique, I know that I will keep reading. Buzz has been out of control for this book on Twitter and among teens, and for good reason. Teens looking for the next new paranormal romance will definitely be asking for this one and they will not be disappointed. 4 out of 5 stars.
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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