by Tahereh Mafi
Nov 15th, 2011
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.
I really wanted to like Shatter Me. I’d heard so many good things about it and was incredibly excited to read it, but it failed to live up to its hype for me. The book started with such a promising premise, but soon devolved into overly dramatic and shallow romance.
Juliette wasn’t a particularly likeable protagonist, I’m sorry to say. She’s broken and scared due to her traumatic childhood and thinks of herself as a monster, and, while this is realistic I suppose, it’s not very fun to read about. Especially since she didn’t seem to become stronger at all. I wanted her to own her power more. There were a few scenes in the book where she did, but it wasn’t enough to offset her all the other times where she hid behind Adam, her love interest.
Unfortunately, the romance didn’t work for me; I didn’t find it believable or compelling. There were many steamy make-out sessions, but there just wasn’t that much of a real emotional connection. I felt like Adam idolized Juliette and didn’t really love her as a person, which really rubbed me the wrong way. And Juliette seemed to fall in love with Adam extremely fast–mostly because she didn’t really have any other option. Once their romance began, Adam was pretty much all Juliette thought about. What about Juliette’s feelings about her power, about her guilt, and her fear that she’s a monster? There was some of that to be sure, but not enough to satisfy me.
Obviously you can’t write a review about Shatter Me without at least mentioning the writing. It is very different. I haven’t read another book with this particular style of writing before. It’s a sort of stream-of-consciousness type narrative, throwing grammar rules out the window, and of course, containing the infamous crossed out words. I did like it, to a point. I think it added some much needed uniqueness to the story. But I found it a bit tedious after a while. I feel like the prose could have been extraordinary, but there was something about it that held it back from that. It was too… much. Too many metaphors and descriptions that didn’t add anything to the story.
Now that I’ve gotten my criticisms out of the way, I can talk about the things that I DID like. And that was the secondary characters. Namely, Warner.
Ah, Warner. He is the perfect villain: deliciously evil, slightly insane, and so utterly charming that I found myself missing him in the scenes in which he wasn’t present. He is just the sort of character that I find myself drawn to time and time again: the irredeemable bad guy who, despite everything, remains sympathetic. He was also a perfect foil to Juliette; he represented what she could have become. They were similar in so many ways. They both just wanted someone to accept them unconditionally.
In conclusion, despite some of the things I didn’t like, I will say that the book is very entertaining. I finished it really quickly. And, even though I had some problems with it, I can definitely understand why a lot of people really loved it. It just wasn’t for me.