Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Publisher: Harper
Release: November 15, 2011
Source: Library
Others in the Series: Unravel Me and Ignite Me
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.
Shatter Me is beautiful so beautiful so beautiful that I actually cried as crashing consonants collided in alliterated lines assembled in a way that could have easily have come off as awkward, but never, ever ever ever ever does.

Shatter Me is an examination of people and monsters and how they fall in love interact and who they are and why.

Shatter Me is a bam-bam-bam fast book with a plot more structured than the Reestablishment's strictures any book I have read in a while.

Shatter Me is so many perfect nearly perfect things, so much to love love love love love.

It is, most recognizably, a book written in an extremely atypical style filled with multiple sentences shoved illegally into one and wandering metaphors collected in one not-entirely-stable mind. And as gorgeous as this foreign method of assembling words is, its flowery, dramatic quality may prove off-putting for some. My attempt to replicate it hopefully offers some indication of how this novel reads, but the text of the story is even wilder than that, with seemingly nonsensical figurative language on every other page, which is definitely something that will bother many people. This is undeniably art though, and the author's brilliant word choice perfectly complements the way she uses symbols to showcase her protagonist's possible insanity, really allowing readers inside the brain of a character who has never been allowed to feel.

This style makes Juliette's characterization rich and deep, but all the other members of this story's cast are equally explored. Warner, the main character's keeper of sorts, is an absolutely fascinating person because he knows and accepts his own diabolical evil and is so confident in it that, when told to go to hell, he responds with "I'm trying." He seems to have hardened his heart and has no doubt that he is undisputedly the protagonist in his version of the world, which gives him an underlying goodness that cannot be ignored. This makes for a very unique love triangle when Adam, the leading lady's romantic partner in crime, is considered; both boys are ostensibly so different, but are alike in their determination, making Juliette's seemingly easy choice much more difficult.

Woven in with the romance is a fast plot with a forceful forward motion that contrasts with the loosely free narration that is reminiscent of an almost stream-of-conscious story. Juliette's plight is terrible and her way of expressing her feelings will make readers emotional, but her hidden strength is something to cheer for, especially during the life-or-death action sequences. The main character does things like personify hate in the midst of dire situations, adding another layer of interest on top of the excitement that ensues when someone runs for his or her life, and this perfectly blends the beauty of her words with their power to hook readers.

Shatter Me is an almost flawless novel for people who love the lilting lyrics of language, want to feel their hearts pound in time with a pressured plot, or desire to meet deeply conflicted characters. It not only excels equally in three imperative aspects, but it mixes them together and forces each to affect the others, which makes it a practically unblemished book. Not everyone will feel the same way, but there is a good chance you will. I highly recommend finding out.


  1. "It is, most recognizably, a book written in an extremely atypical style filled with multiple sentences shoved illegally into one and wandering metaphors collected in one not-entirely-stable mind." <--THIS. You described it perfectly. I loved how you copied it in the beginning :) When I first started reading it, I was in the group of people who found it offputting. But I grew to really love it and it flows in a way that's just really beautiful. You explained the book perfectly!

    1. I'm so glad you grew to appreciate Shatter Me's unconventional quality. It does flow in a perfect way, and although I'm a big advocate for expressing different opinions on books, a tiny piece of me breaks whenever I hear someone complain about the writing style because I love it SO much. And thanks!

  2. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the writing style in this one at first but it grew on me pretty quickly and I loved it. I can't wait to finally read Unravel Me (since I've put it off so far.) Great review!

    Katie @ Katie’s Book Blog

    1. The style is definitely weird, but I'm glad you ended up enjoying it. I thought Unravel Me was almost as good as its predecessor, and I hope it lives up for you as well. Thanks!


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