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I Belong

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Genre: YA Dystopian

Series: Shatter Me (Book 1)

Publication Date: November 15, 2011

Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062085484 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062085481 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Kristie


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.

Quick & Dirty: A dark, gripping dystopian that is worth a read just for the writing style alone.

Opening Sentence: I’ve been locked up for 264 days.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Juliette has been locked up in isolation for almost 9 months. Juliette is a monster. Her touch can kill or strongly incapacitate anyone. She has spent the last 3 years of her life in hospitals or institutions before her parents gave her up to a dungeon prison. If she is lucky, she is fed one meal a day and is given only minutes to find her way to the showers and take a shower in the dark. Juliette is a monster. She is resigned to her fate and believes she will die in her room.

The world is not what is used to be. The clouds are not the color they should be, animals are sick and fields are poisoned. Food is hard to find. The Reestablishment is taking over the government and the world. They have banned books and music. They have forced people out of their homes, made them live in enclaves. Most of all they want to ban the world’s languages and create a new language that everyone will be forced to speak.

At the beginning of Shatter Me, Juliette is broken and vulnerable. She has been terribly hurt by her parents. She agrees she should be locked up because she never meant to hurt anyone and she doesn’t ever want to hurt anyone ever again. All Juliette ever wanted was to be loved to have a friend.

On Juliette’s 264th day of isolation, a guard announces that she will be getting a roommate. She is shocked to find out her new roommate is male. She believes that he is there to kill her to help rid the world of her sickness. She teaches him how to stay alive in the brutal prison, how long it takes before you can grab your food and when you can take a shower. Juliette is still curious suspicious why Adam is there, even as she recognizes him from her past.

After several weeks together, Juliette is taken from her cell by armed guards. Warner, the leader of the Reestablishment in her sector, has been looking for her. He has plans for her. He has heard about her and wants to use her powers to torture and kill. He believes she should hate everyone, especially those who had her locked up. That she should use her hate for the good of the Reestablishment. Warner is obsessed and fascinated with Juliette. He forces her to wear pretty dresses and makes her follow him around wherever he goes. He also threatens to kill her “ex-roommate” Adam if she doesn’t touch people for him when he asks. Juliette refuses to be evil, she refuses Warner’s offers. When a chance to escape is revealed, she takes it and the journey she undergoes will teach her more about herself, the kindness of strangers and that the world may not be as bad a place as it seems.

Juliette is a sad but strong character. She feels she has every reason to give up but she doesn’t. She fights for her right to live. She undergoes a transformation as the story progresses that makes her a stronger person and teaches her that she is stronger than she thought. That she is not a monster.

Tahereh Mafi does a believable job conveying Juliette’s youth and emotional state. Shatter Me is written purely from Juliette’s point of view. She often speaks in numbers: 1 window, 4 walls, 35,500 seconds and 500 heartbeats. She is also OCD with her thoughts and often repeats phrases
in 3’s
in 3’s
in 3’s
before moving on to her next thought. Also, there are quite a bit of strikethroughs in the text. If you don’t mind reading her forbidden thoughts this way, you may like Shatter Me. The writing style worked for this story.

Although Shatter Me is labeled a Dystopian it is also very much a romance at heart. Juliette has feelings for Adam but since she can’t touch anyone without pain she doesn’t want to hurt him. Adam is a different story. He has also been looking for Juliette, but not for the same reasons as Warner. He has cared and loved her from afar for a long time and when she disappeared he searched for her. They have a young love, full of emotion that rolls off the page.

In the end, Tahereh Mafi creates a darkly dangerous world that begins with sadness and loss but ultimately ends with redemption and finding out you are not alone after all. Shatter Me is not action packed but there are enough questions to keep you hooked into the storyline. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Notable Scene:

He turns around very, very slowly and I begin to panic. He finally lifts his head but his eyes are darting in every direction. When he looks at me his eyes narrow; his forehead is tight. His right hand curls into a fist and his left hand lifts one finger to his lips. He’s telling me to be quiet.

Every organ in my body falls to the floor.

I knew something was coming but I didn’t know it’d be Adam. I didn’t think he’d be the one to hurt me, to torture me, to make me wish for death more than I ever have before. I don’t even realize I’m crying until I hear the whimper and feel the silent tears stream down my face and I’m ashamed so ashamed so ashamed of my weakness but a part of me doesn’t care. I’m tempted to beg, to ask for mercy, to steal his gun and shoot myself first. Dignity is the only thing I have left.

The Shatter Me Series:

1. Shatter Me

2. Unravel Me

FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Shatter Me. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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