Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
|The BEAUTIFUL paperback cover.|
Let me start with a little story. Yesterday morning I was sitting around, feeling sorry for myself because I had nothing to read. And then a package arrived. I was confused. I hadn’t ordered anything. I opened it up and saw… books! Free books! I’d won a free signed copy of SHATTER ME from Epic Reads without even knowing it. Sometimes when life is crummy the universe will just fling a book at you and make everything better. Or at least put your life in perspective.
Because as bad as things are (not very bad, basically), my life has never been as bleak as Juliette’s, the teenage protagonist of SHATTER ME. We first meet her in a prison/mental institution where she’s been locked up for three years. She hasn’t spoken to another living soul in 264 days. The only thing that keeps her sane is “a small notebook and a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company.”
Why is Juliette there? Because she can kill people. With her touch.
To say her journey is powerful is an understatement. Juliette is desperately lonely. She never touches people (obviously) and wants so badly to be loved. The world has become a harsh, barren, deadly place run by a dastardly organization called the Reestablishment.
The best part of this book is how gripping it is. I found myself hungrily turning the pages, wanting to find out more about this world, what would happen to Juliette and Adam (oh, Adam. Sigh.) There’s action and intense romance and a truly sick villain. Warner is creeptastic. I’m shuddering just thinking about him. He’s excellent.
Adam, the love interest, is perhaps a little too perfect, but he’s so much what hopeless, self-loathing, love-starved Juliette needs that I fell in love with him too. The characters are very vivid. Kenji I flat-out adored. He was irreverent and funny, something this heavy book kind of needed.
The language is at times heartrendingly beautiful. Other times it threatens to become overdone. When it comes down to it, though, Mafi is an amazingly inventive writer. Some of her phrases had me seething in writer-ly jealousy. They were that original. One of the best conceits she comes up with is the way she crosses out some of Juliette’s thoughts. These are often the words that hurt too much for Juliette to think. That she either can’t bear to ponder or can’t bear not to.
The heart of the novel is Juliette’s progression, how she goes from desperately hating herself, fearing her own fingers, and calling herself a monster, to accepting what power she has. She finds her place in the world. Things get a little X-Men and it’s kind of great.
If you want action, romance, a grim dystopian future (that really isn’t so far in the future… what’s alarming about it is how possible it is), gorgeous prose, and an intense and literary narrator, pick up SHATTER ME. I’ll be over there, waiting for my free copies of DESTROY ME and UNRAVEL ME to magically show up on my doorstep.