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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Release Date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 352
Buy: Fountain Bookstore / Amazon
Description: Goodreads
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.

The one sentence review? Tahereh Mafi shattered me.

Quite honestly, Shatter Me totally blew me away, threw me for a loop, and crashed me right back down to Earth, only do it all over again. Everything about it- the characters, the story, the prose, the promise of what’s to come- totally worked for me. There was very little about this book that disappointed me. It was equal parts romantic, supernatural, and action-packed- a thrilling and successfully ambitious debut.

I immediately supported and liked Juliette. With as much as she had been through- abandoned and unloved by her parents, discarded by almost every person she ever met, locked up and isolated for almost a year- she was understandably broken. This could have easily become the thing that defined her, but she didn’t let it. She chose to keep her heart open. Despite everything she had been through, Juliette chose to believe that there was good in this new, desolate world. She never used her power to hurt others unless forced, even with the effect it has on her own physicality. She may not have been the best fighter, but she still fought for what she thought was the right side, and that was what mattered.

Juliette’s intense voice exploded from the page, right from the beginning. Mafi’s writing style was certainly unlike anything I’ve had the pleasure of reading. It was all extreme metaphor, aching simile, the wild and winding prose of Juliette’s inner monologue. Each description was so distinct and heart-breaking- it begged to be savored. You can literally flip to just about any page in the book and find something out of the ordinary- an unusual sentence structure, a peculiar comparison. Personally, I ate it right up. The voice matched the way I felt about Juliette as our heroine, matched what truly would be going on her in mind. My personal favorite part was the use of the strike-through. I’m not usually a fan of strike-through because I find it tends to distract from the point. In this case, it was used as a device to display another side of Juliette’s thoughts, the side she thinks she has to hide. The more confidence she built in herself, the more she learned to trust herself and the people she kept close, the more the strike-throughs faded. Very subtle. Loved it.

And speaking of the people she keeps close… Adam. Oh boy, Adam. I’m a sucker for a swoon-worthy love interest, and Adam completely fit the bill. He was sensitive but manly, strong yet sweet. He was the brightest hope for Juliette, a literal bird of freedom. And did I mention he was smoking hot? Like actual gasping for breath, knees knocking together hot. Adam’s hotness was well-documented, something that can pluck the nerves, but again, it fit with Juliette’s voice, so I didn’t mind. (Plus, hottie!) I don’t want to reveal too much but seriously? I won’t be surprised when he tops all the YA Heartthrob lists.

My one nitpick would be the ending. There was so much going on, all that what-will-possibly-happen-next kind of action, that when the ending finally came, it fell a little flat. Knowing that there are more books to come (YAY), it made sense to set up the new set of characters for #2. However, too many characters were introduced, giving the ending a cluttered, almost awkward feel. It was like, “Look at all these people you haven’t known or cared about for the past 300 pages! You love them now, okay?” I’m positive we will love them in Book #2, but I would have preferred it ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, especially because there was an easy set-up for one. All of this aside, I do understand the reasoning behind it. And if that’s my only complaint, that’s impressive.

I think it’s beyond safe to say that the buzz around Shatter Me is deserved. It’s got fantastic writing, original and likeable characters, and a gripping story that keeps you turning the pages. I can’t wait to see what Tahereh Mafi hands us next.