Review: Shatter Me (#1, Shatter Me) by Tahereh Mafi

My Thoughts

Vivid. Unique. Raw. Suspenseful. 
A thrilling dystopian story delivered in vividly striking prose.
It was expressive and entirely unforgettable.

4halfstars

Synopsis

shatter meJuliette 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.

My Review

Blown away. I mean, wow. THE. WRITING. Powerful. Fast-paced. Lyrical. Vivid. Colorful. Unexpected. Simultaneously jarring and fluid. It was poetry in motion. Poetry come alive. The secret to this story’s power is embedded in the brilliant word choices, the syntax and the lack thereof. It was almost stream of consciousness as our protagonist’s multitudinous thoughts surged in a fast-moving flood… an overflow of fears and memories and thoughts she shouldn’t even dare to have, pouring from the pages of this book. I was so entranced by the writing, that for awhile I had to slow down and really capture the story as it unfurled. This is a story of self-discovery. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Survival. Redemption. About the power a curse bestows and the burden of shouldering that very power. The power to destroy. The power to survive. The power to fight back.

“I am nothing but novocaine. I am numb, a world of nothing, all feeling and emotion gone forever.
I am a whisper that never was.”

Juliette has lived endured 264 days of starvation, without touch or comfort. She’s been held captive by four concrete walls and the relentless despair within her heart that each day reminds that she nothing but a monster. Her touch kills. Abandoned by her own parents, she was tossed out like a fading memory they wished never existed. She destroys. Her guilt has been a self-erected prison. Always trying to show she means no harm. Always alone and never with love. And despite the fact that she is barely alive, both physically and in spirit, she yearns to touch and to be touched. To love and to be loved. A reality that is permanently and irrevocably out of reach.

“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.”

The world as Juliette now knows it is dominated by the Reestablishment. A dull reflection of what the world once was. Painted in shades of metal and concrete and gray, all color and life has disappeared. People are hungry. Controlled. Their spirits broken. Hope long gone. The strong and the dissident killed or imprisoned.  The Reestablishment claims to want to re-start society in efforts to create a better world, but the reality is that…

“Hope in this world bleeds out of the barrel of a gun.”

Juliette is a really interesting character. I felt like she harbored so much pain, sadness, guilt, disappointment that it almost made it impossible for her to live. Her dire circumstances were secondary to the self-placed manacles that already kept her captive. Her life has been so fraught with pain that she hopes for death. Nobody has ever understood her. Nobody has loved her. She’s never learned to love or hope for anything better beyond her very tragic reality. Nonetheless, her listless existence begins to come to life when an unexpected roommate – a male – suddenly shares her cell. His eyes are familiar and haunting and she is frightened and excited at the same time.

“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. But things happen when people touch me. Strange things. Bad things. Dead things.”

Her relationship with her cellmate, Adam, is a turbulent one at first. She can’t help but be drawn to him. There’s something about him. His blue eyes are filled with hurt and familiarity that she can’t help but trust him and she finds herself slowly come to life… awash with emotion and doubt and desire. Juliette’s need to be touched by him becomes a desperate need.

“He pulls in my swaddled figure close to his chest and I shatter. Two three four fifty thousand pieces of feeling stab me in the heart, melt into drops of warm honey that soothe the scars in my soul… His heat melts the icicles propping me up from the inside out and I thaw I thaw I thaw, my eyes fluttering fast until they fall closed, until silent tears are streaming down my face and I’ve decided the only thing I want to freeze is his frame holding mine.”

Soon enough, however, truths are disclosed and a frightful adventure begins. The very arms that have held her down for almost a year now entice her and welcome her, tempting her with visions of a future enlivened by power. We meet another person, Warner. Another complex and enigmatic character. He’s unnerving and beautiful and evil.  He’s soft and hard. Kind and cruel. And he wants Juliette like nothing he’s ever desired before. But what are his motivations? What does he want? Why does he want her?

“Hate looks just like everybody else until it smiles. Until it spins around and lies with lips and teeth carved into the semblance of something too passive to punch.”

The character development in the story is really interesting to see evolve. With Juliette, we see her begin to emerge from that dark and lonely place within herself, becoming stronger, more whole with each passing day as her thoughts become more lucid and complete. Adam is certainly multidimensional… he also carries the burden of responsibility, bearing the scars of a painful past he too can never forget. The moments he spends with Juliette are beautiful, emotional, raw and entirely heartfelt. He gives her acceptance. Love. Hope.

“Hope is hugging me, holding me in its arms, wiping away my tears and telling me that today and tomorrow and two days from now I will be just fine and I’m so delirious I actually dare to believe it.”

This dystopian story unwinds and twists and turns and re-twists in a way that leaves you fully captivated. It’s like a modern-day superhero novel full of action and suspense with characters that come to life in shades of gray. They are not quite evil, but not entirely good either. It’s all about secrets and control and power… and most importantly, how you use that power. Some moments in this action-packed adventure had me biting my nails wanting to simultaneously read every single word on the page and skip entire pages altogether just so I would know what would happen. Although the writing is phenomenal, the book lingers between a 4.5 and a 5 rating to me, but I feel in my gut that the story itself is at the precipice of something bigger and more thrilling and I’m willing to bet the series only gets stronger from here. I reiterate that the writing style is ingenious and vivid and disruptive. I’ve honestly never read something quite like this. I loved it and I can’t wait to read more!

“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.”

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Reading Order and Purchase Links

(Click on the cover image to purchase from Amazon)

shatter me destroy me unravel me unravel me ignite me

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Comments

  1. This is one of my favorite series ever! Really glad to hear you love it too! Can’t wait for Ignite Me to see how it ends. Thanks for the great review!

  2. Hermosas portadas, pero no se, aún no me convencen…

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