Book Review: Shatter Me
Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: 11/15/11
Source: Publisher Provided
YA: ages 13 up
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.
Juliette garners your sympathy and curiosity from the first page. I cannot imagine being isolated from other humans for over 200 days and her reality is a small, concrete room and a cot. She smuggled a small notebook and a pen in with her, which is her only friend and confidant since she was torn from her family. The way she tells it, she was given up by her parents and had no one who believed her when she said she didn’t mean to kill the boy. I wasn’t sure what to think at this point, but I was drawn into her small, 10x10 foot space and felt like I was there with her. I admit to thinking she was emotionally disturbed in the beginning, until I learned more about her.
Almost immediately, the author begins to describe a world we are all afraid to live in. The human race has destroyed the Earth and made it nearly uninhabitable. I found myself initially wanting to skip those parts of the book because I was afraid it was going to be a sermon on our lack of caring demonstrated as a society today. This was not the case. Mafi has woven the worst-case scenarios into the plot of the book and not made them the central focus of the story, but rather the backdrop for the adventure Juliette will embark upon with Adam. She has no idea what fate holds for her, but Juliette is working to maintain some sense of normalcy in a world seemingly turned upside down. When the powers that be introduce a new dynamic in her life, a male roommate, she is taken aback and terrified, but something about him is familiar.
Juliette learns that the government, or what is left of it, wants to use her to torture prisoners. They know her touch is deadly and Warner, the ruler or director, is very interested in her. He want to possess her for himself and if he discovers Adam’s secret, it could mean the end of Adam’s plans he’s been focusing on for years. Warner’s needs and desires are almost comical in the obvious nature of his plan. Juliette sees right through him.
There is a love story, sexual tension between characters, one exciting event after another and so much detail at times I struggled to wrap my brain around what was happening. I couldn’t put the book down. There is rarely time for the characters to rest in between action scenes, and for the reader, it is almost too much. I devoured the book and when I reached the end, I kept looking for more. Unfortunately, the ending was very abrupt. I understand the need to leave the reader hanging, but this was so sudden, I was left speechless. I am hoping this will be a series. There are so many directions Mafi could take the characters and the story line, it is thrilling to predict what might happen. This is really a 3.5 on the ratings scale....the ending left me with too many questions.