Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me
Loved it
Graded
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTEEN
Elements: Superpowers, touch that kills
Series: Book 1 of the Shatter Me series

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.

Be both, Juliette. Be both a weapon and a warrior. Own yourself, darn it.

That’s what I wanted to tell Juliette pretty much the whole time in the latter half.

She’s been shunned by people her whole life, killed an innocent, locked up and when released, made to use her power as a weapon by a slightly unhinged, budding evil mastermind. Just the first event itself can cause someone serious trauma, so I felt that she needed time to find herself, deal with society and learn how to survive.

The eccentricities were mostly a nice touch to behold, cultivated over years of solitary confinement and verbal abused. There were disjointed sentences, extreme attention to numbers and minute details. The most obvious, and my favourite, was the striked out conversations and phrases which I’m confused about, wondering if:

  • they happened and Juliette did not want to acknowledge them, or
  • they didn’t happen, and Juliette was just imagining the things that she wanted to be said at that moment.

The frequency decreased as the book went on, which was a positive sign as Juliette slowly learnt not to deny herself of simple things like words or thoughts, though they cropped up when she was under pressure.

Another tic of hers was to have long, weirdly literal seeming descriptions of things happening. They were extremely weird, and I’m going to label this as an eccentricity of Juliette’s because they were utterly ridiculous. How bad were they? Very, they jolted me out of the story.

Example:

I meet him across the room, touch the designs on his skin. Nod. “I understand.” He almost laughs, nearly smiles. Shakes his head just a millimeter. “What?” I jerk my hand away. “Nothing.” He grins. Slips his arms around my waist. “It just keeps hitting me. You’re really here. In my house.” Heat rushes up my neck and I fall off a ladder holding a paintbrush dipped in red.

What are you talking about, my dear broken Juliette? What paintbrush- oh, it’s an exaggeration. Juliette was referring to herself blushing. Now I feel a bit silly.

Juliette acts totally lovestruck when she meets Adam, which I would sigh at in most books due to the over-abundance of such scenes detracting from the main plotline, but here, I felt they were justified given she’d sent her whole life thinking she was unable to touch anyone without causing them massive pain, and so she’d relish any touch that didn’t do so, delighted gasps included. There’s an emotional connection that comes with getting to touch someone, something alive, and I didn’t want to begrudge her that.

The plot was one that I enjoyed, though by the latter half, I was getting quite tired of SHATTER ME. I took about a month’s break before I picked it back up, which never bodes well. It has the qualities I love, and great explanations as to why the qualities that I didn’t love were happening. What wasn’t explained was given an explanation why it wasn’t. I should have loved it, but I felt sapped once we got to the scene excerpted above.

The only reason I found, and I’ve racked my brains about this, is that the over-exaggerations were just tiring me out.

I was tired of wondering if what Juliette described was literally happening in the scene, tired of flipping back and forth to see if I missed anything, just tired of going “What…?” every time it happened.

SHATTER ME’s ending was pretty kickass. Even my distanced self will admit that. I love where it’s leading to, and hopefully the nonsensical descriptions won’t happen as often in UNRAVEL ME, because I’m not sure that I won’t just drop it and leave it.

  2 comments for “Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

  1. Monday, 7 April 2014 at 10:59 PM

    I’ve been meaning to read this one forever. I’ve heard mixed things, but liked the X-Men comparison many people gave it. I’m curious about the strikethrough convos now.
    Liviania recently posted…Review: Stolen SongbirdMy Profile

    • Liyana
      Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 9:56 PM

      There are some serious, overt comparisons with X-Men when it comes to the characters’ powers. Other than that? I’m not sure the X-Men series gave as much focus to the romance. 😉

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