Review: Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) – Tahereh Mafi

Posted 3 July, 2013 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review: Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) – Tahereh MafiShatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me #1
Published by Harper Collins on 15 November 2011
Genres: Dystopian, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 357
Source: Kindle Purchase
Buy on Amazon |
5 Stars

Juliette has been treated as a pariah her whole life. It started when she was very young, and her own parents wouldn't let her touch them. Screamed at her. Told her she had destroyed their happiness. When she was 14, something horrible happened, and a toddler died. Juliette was accused of murdering him - and she was sent to different detention and medical centers where tests were done. Nobody cared that Juliette was a human being with feelings, that they were hurting her. After two years of testing, she was sent to an asylum, forced to stay in isolation for a year. With noone to talk to. Nothing to see. Nothing to do. Except for counting things, and writing words into the tiny notebook she had managed to steal before she was locked up for good.

Shatter Me is a complicated story about Juliette who can kill just by touching someone. Everybody is afraid of her, so afraid that she has been put in an asylum, completely isolated from other people, the world, fresh air and sanity. To survive, Juliette writes in her little notebook every day. She counts the cracks in the wall. She counts the seconds she is awake – sitting very still in a corner while holding on to herself. She misses human interaction, wonders if she still knows how to form words. Juliette can’t understand why she is being kept alive – she is sure death would be much better than her non-life at this point. Until one day, another bed is put into her cell. She is going to see someone else!

Juliette’s predicament almost did shatter me! When she realizes that she is now sharing her cell with a boy, she is so afraid she huddles in a corner and lets him take her bed, too, she stays far away from him and won’t even try to talk to him at first. But there is something so familiar about him. She thinks she knows him – from before – from school. But she is so confused, she has no idea what is true, what is her imagination, and if he is actually even there in the cell with her. Adam Kent turns out to not be exactly her cell-mate after all, but Juliette still wonders if she can trust him.

As Shatter Me continues, Juliette is taken from her cell to a lavish place with Persian rugs, silk, beautiful dresses, more hot water than she can handle, food and an ice-cold killer. Warner is 19 years old, and the leader of Sector 45. He wants Juliette to make himself more powerful. The girl who can kill with a touch can make him the ultimate leader of the Reestablishment, and he is not afraid to use anyone as a means to an end. Juliette, however is afraid of noone anymore. But she knows that she will not use her touch to willingly kill or torture others for the Reestablishment.

The prose in Shatter Me is completely different from anything I have ever read before! The readers see this strange and scary world through Juliette’s eyes, and the writing is almost in a diary-style, or free-flow thinking. Sometimes words or sentences are crossed out, other times, there are repetitions to emphasize a thought Juliette is having. Even if the writing is different, and even a little strange, it really is quite fitting to the story, and to the character Juliette is. The readers understand Juliette’s confusion, her anger, her hopes, and it really is masterful. Mafi is not afraid to impose her own style with her prose, and since the whole world is disjointed, the writing is eerily fitting.

Shatter Me has a pretty complex world, but it is not difficult to understand it, even if Juliette is not completely aware of all that has been going on during her three years in detention, Adam and Warner explain little things to her, and her observation skills are excellent. The readers have been able to realize some things just through Juliette’s thoughts, and there is no info-dumping, it is all shown to us, and it is extremely well done.

The characters are well fleshed out, too. Juliette is the one we get to really know, but Adam is a real character, as is Warner and others we meet along the way. Shatter me is set in a cold world, where the power of a few is more important than anything else. Citizens have no rights, even food is carefully rationed, nobody can decide what kind of work they will do, and every single person has to obey the army. In this cold, scary world, Juliette is trying to reconcile the present with what she remembers from her past, and she is adamant not to let Warner use her the way he has planned. Warner is the perfect villain, the character readers love to hate, he is so despicable he almost doesn’t seem human at all! Power is the only thing that seems to matter to him.

If you like dystopian settings, you should definitely check out Shatter Me! I don’t know why it has taken me so long to read it myself, but I devoured both Shatter Me, Destroy Me and Unravel Me in a day and a half! Now, I feel deprived. I want to know more. I need to know more!

The sun drops into the ocean and splashes browns and reds and yellows and oranges into the world outside my window.

I practice using my voice, shaping my lips around the familiar words unfamiliar to my mouth. I practice all day. I’m surprised I remember how to speak.

I always wonder about raindrops. I wonder about how they’re always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end..

Their hands are wrapped in gloves wrapped around guns that could put a bullet through a million possibilities.

Truth is a jealous, vicious mistress that never ever sleeps, is what I don’t tell him. I’ll never be okay.

In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters.

My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.

“Juliette?” He doesn’t move an inch. His gaze is fixed on me: calm, unflappable; 2 buckets of river water at midnight. I’d like to cry into his eyes.

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Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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0 responses to “Review: Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) – Tahereh Mafi

    • It’s really well done! A bit strange, because it really is like reading someone’s flow of thoughts, but it’s a great story.

      Thanks for stopping by Naomi 🙂

    • I’ve had it on my kindle for a long time as well. And I have to admit that I read Shatter Me, Destroy Me (novella) and Unravel Me in just over 24 hours – I couldn’t get enough! I hope you’ll love Shatter Me as much as I did 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by Liesel.

    • I agree, it’s very strange to start a book where the format is different – but at the same time, I thought it made so much sense.

      I’m glad you like it so far, and I hope that will continue, too.

      Thanks for stopping by Lee.

    • My Unravel Me review will be up next week, Destroy Me is scheduled for Friday 🙂 I loved all three – I am a little bit obsessed, too.

      Thanks for stopping by Megan.

    • If you think it could be OK to read in English, I think you should, because the prose is very particular, I’m not sure it would be as good after translation…

      Thanks for stopping by Melliane 🙂

  1. Holy wow! Shatter Me has been on my TBR since before it came out – and I still have managed to get it read. I now hope that I can read it really soon! (you must stop this – I can’t read so many books really soon, and you add to my “immediately” list almost daily!) 😉 I’m intrigued by the prose formatting you described and the complexity of the story. This sounds amazing! Thanks, Lexxie!

    • Holy wow is correct Brandee. I had it on my TBR forever as well, and another friend of mine started telling me how good it was (while she was reading, of course) and that I should get to it. I even had the books on my kindle!
      And LOL about ‘immediately’ list – I have considered creating a new shelf on Goodreads – naming it Brandee-recs 😉
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Oh man, reading your review really made me wonder why I haven’t read these books either >.< Initially I really wanted to but when I skimmed through it at the bookstore and saw the strike-out style, it honestly really put me off. I've since been told multiple times that one does get used to the style after awhile but now reading your review: I NEED to finally crack book 1 open! I love how you described the prose, the characters (especially Juliette – I like a keen observer!) and the world building!

    Really brilliant review doll, thanks for the insight 🙂

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday *38*
    • Actually, I didn’t find the style distracting at all, Micheline, I thought it was very cleverly done 🙂 It made it very intimate, as if Juliette thought of something, then thought better of it. I really hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did Micheline!

      Thanks for commenting.

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