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 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.
Killing time isn’t as difficult as it sounds. I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand. I can rip the numbers off a clock and watch the hour hands tick tick tick their final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I’ve been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind.
Through the story, we follow a 17-year-old girl named Juliette, whose touch is literally fatal. She’s been locked up in a prison for 264 days, but that’s about to change. She’s taken to the headquarters of The Reestablishment (virtually the totalitarian, dystopian government) where she is asked to become one of the government’s weapons.
Mafi’s writing style is extremely unique, and there is no doubt it certainly isn’t for everyone. However, as breathtaking and wonderful as it was, there are a few occasions where it just starts becoming nonsensical and redundant. (See The Holy Terror’s review for some examples). For a debut author, however, I thought the way she wrote the story was extremely unique and gutsy, and I anticipate seeing how it continues to progress. The way Mafi chose to write the story was a really clever reflection of Juliette’s mental state, and I found that intriguing.
Juliette is not flawless: she relies on other people to do her work for her, is occasionally melodramatic and helpless. However, she stands up for what she believes in and how she never backs down. But between her flaws and her strengths, she manages to feel real.
There explanation of the world Juliette lived in was extremely lax, and so much of the time that could have been spent on developing the world was taken over by romance. I was left with so many questions, most prominent including:
- At what point did The Reestablishment take over? What are their plans?
- How and why did the US government fall?
Mafi claims that the world is being destroyed by global warming, but there is no textual evidence for that. There is no special sunscreen, clothes, etc that demonstrate there’s any global warming in the first place. Everything appears to have a very present-day feel, and I feel the book could have been much stronger if the setting was more established.
While certainly not a bad debut, there is definitely a handful of things that can be improved upon. I look forward to seeing if Tahereh is able to work upon these flaws for the better within the next two books.