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July 25, 2012

Review: 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.
In all honesty, I am mentally kicking myself for not having read this book sooner. It took me some months after release to get a copy and then a few more months to actually read it. I suppose that tells you how uncertain I was about Shatter Me. Mere moments after starting the novel, however, my opinion shifted drastically. My thoughts come down to this: if I were a capable author, this is the book I'd want to write.

Juliette Ferrars views the chaotic world in the only way she can--through the bars of her jail cell. She is living in a time of mass global panic, ravaged by pollution and disease. The Reestablishment, the group who locked Juliette away, is attempting to pick up the pieces when they suddenly begin to show interest in her after years of neglect. Why? Because this is no typical seventeen-year-old girl. This is a girl with enormous, undiscovered power that can be used for good or for evil. The choice rests with Juliette.

The thing I love most about Juliette is that she's not flawless. In fact, she's much the opposite--she's insecure beyond belief. I absolutely loved watching her fight an uphill battle against the greatest opponent of all, herself. Before she could choose a side, Juliette needed to accept herself and her ability. Since such a task is nowhere near simple or easy, much of Shatter Me focuses on Juliette's inner conflict in the midst of the events unfolding around her. Cue Adam, the boy from Juliette's past who will eventually become her love interest and lifeline. Also present is Warner, the son of an important figure in The Reestablishment who wants to use Juliette's power as a weapon. While Adam seems the logical choice for a fictional crush, I had my eye on Warner from the beginning. There's just something about his charm and mysterious persona that kept me intrigued from beginning to end. Also, I can't go without mentioning Kenji, who adds a fabulous sense of humor to the otherwise mainly somber plot.

In terms of a being a dystopian, I thoroughly enjoyed the quirks of Shatter Me's setting, such as the fact that the birds don't fly anymore. The paranormal flair was also a nice twist to the story. One final thing that truly stood out to me was the writing style, beautiful prose that seemed to be typically attributed to poetry. Reading from Juliette's perspective is brilliant because she often feels the need to censor herself, expressed by strikethrough. I've never seen anything quite like it before, which only added to my adoration of the book.

As one of the exceptionally lucky ones to land an ARC of the sequel, Unravel Me, I do have a bit more insight as to how this story continues, but I'm going to wait to share my thoughts until a later, more reasonable date. If anything, though, know that the next book is just as equally amazing as the first and that Tahereh Mafi continues to exemplify extraordinary talent. (Also, as a loyal member of Team Warner, I'm quite looking forward to Destroy Me, a novella from Warner's perspective that is currently slated to release in fall 2012. Anything involving Warner is exactly what I need to keep from blathering about Unravel Me.)

Rating: 5/5 stars

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