Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi ★★★★

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: Shatter Me #1
Publication Date: November 2011
ISBN: 9780062085504
Page Count: 368
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: Own Purchase
Reviewed by: Janice
I have a curse.
I have a gift.

I'm a monster.
I'm more than human.

My touch is lethal.
My touch is power.

I am their weapon.
I will fight back.
No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever.



True story: The first time I picked up Shatter Me, I only made it through one and a half chapters. My inner editor simply couldn't handle the stream-of-consciousness writing style, with its long sentences, missing punctuation marks, and heavy use of the strikethrough feature. If I'd had a red pen and a copy of the manuscript, I would have gone crazy fixing what my brain identified as mistakes. There was no way I could read something like this, I told myself. No way, no how. So I tossed Shatter Me back into my TBR pile and moved on to other books written "the right way". You know, books with neatly organized sentences and paragraphs, and main characters whose jumbled thoughts didn't make me feel slightly dizzy.

The thing is, though, I couldn't forget what I had read. Something about it got under my skin and stayed there, and over the next week or two, my mind kept circling back to it. Try as I might, I couldn't let the book go. I simply had to know what happened and where this seemingly crazy story was headed. So I retrieved it from my TBR stack, took a deep breath, and plunged in.

Best decision I ever made.

Juliette's world is a grim place. Mother Nature is on the fritz, and the earth is a devastated ruin. Those who remain are ruled with an iron fist by the Reestablishment. Resources, money, people, the government - the Reestablishment controls it all. They don't just rule the world; they own it.

At the story's start, Juliette is locked up, alone, and clinging desperately to the fragile threads of her sanity. She's been the Reestablishment's prisoner for three years, declared a danger to society because of a fatal ability that endangers everyone she comes in contact with. Literally. Her entire life, she has been shunned and ostracized. No friends, no loving touches, no anything. The result is one very messed up young woman. Like a dog that has been kicked too many times, Juliette is paranoid and skittish, trusting no one. She thinks of herself as a monster, because that's what everyone calls her and how they've always treated her.

And then one day, he shows up. Adam. A blast from her past. Confused and more than a little wary, Juliette tries to keep her distance, but Adam won't allow it. He is determined to befriend her. Instead of cruelty, he shows her kindness. He talks to her without any trace of fear or judgment. The more she's around him, the more she wants things she thought she could never have.

Let's call that Big Surprise #1 in Juliette's life. Big Surprise #2 comes not long later in the form of Reestablishment soldiers. Apparently, someone in power has taken a very keen interest in Juliette's "case". Suddenly, she's valuable, and before she knows it, she is out of prison and whisked away to Sector 45, where the commander in charge, Warner, eagerly awaits her arrival. Warner has big plans for Juliette, and he's prepared to do whatever it takes to get her on his side.

Juliette isn't an easy character to relate to. She's so damaged, so incredibly starved for the most basic of human attentions, it's almost painful to read. Yet buried beneath all of her tangled thoughts and feelings is an intelligent, compassionate and remarkably resilient girl. Given the chance, I believe she has the potential to become a seriously badass heroine. That is, if she doesn't crack first. She's holding on by her fingernails, but she is holding on. For now.

Pulling Juliette in two very different directions are Adam and Warner. One is light, the other dark, and both have crucial roles to play in the story as well as in Juliette's life. Adam is everything a hero should be: tough when he needs to be, passionate, loyal, and gentle at all the right moments. I guarantee you will fall in love with him. I certainly did! Warner, on the other hand, will either repel or fascinate you. Cast in the villain's role, it's difficult not to write him off as just another manipulative and power-hungry douchebag who believes the end justifies the means. Certainly, he does reprehensible - even unforgivable - things in the course of the book. And yet, as much as I felt I should hate and despise him, I couldn't. Instead, I was reluctantly compelled by him, and oddly protective of his fate as a character. You'll have to make up your own mind about him, of course, but personally, I'm (sort of) rooting for him.

Shatter Me isn't an action-packed read, so if you are hunting for a shoot-'em-up, bang-'em-up thrill ride, look elsewhere. If, however, you are the type of reader who thrives on feels, romance, and characters you won't soon forget, do yourself a favor: Add Shatter Me to your TBR list immediately.

4 Stars ★★★★

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