November 15, 2011; Harper/HarperCollins
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 this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel. (courtesy of Goodreads)
I hate licorice. I've always hated it. But every once in awhile I eat a piece of licorice just to see if I still dislike it. And I do. My relationship with dystopia is the same. A unique concept ropes me in, but the dystopian theme is almost always a turn-off.
I am certainly not alone in my mixed feelings about Shatter Me. I've read drool-ridden, slap-happy love reviews as well as reviews where the readers gagged on the book like it was rotten meat. I'm somewhere in the middle.
Mafi's writing is one of the most controversial parts of the books, particularly the
As for the plot...meh. It's not that it was bad, it just wasn't for me. I love the idea of a girl who can kill a person simply by touching them. Seeing how Juliette was abused and then used by all around her was both fascinating and depressing. Despite the unique paranormal twist, on a grand scheme, Shatter Me still felt like a story I'd read before. That and it was very, very dark.
I was disappointed by the world building in Shatter Me - or the lack thereof. Society is ruled by the re-establishment, but we don't learn much about it. You can certainly have a strong plot without a developed world, but it's like looking at a two dimensional map instead of a three dimensional globe.
I both liked and didn't like the characters. Juliette exuded self-hatred from every poor. I got tired of that. Given her life experience, it was understandable; in fact, I would be skeptical if she was any other way. However, there's only so much self-directed vitriol that I can ingest at a time. It was made even worse by the emotive writing, which made Juliette's emotions leap off the page.
The romance between Adam and Juliette was definitely hot. It wasn't insta-love, because the characters knew each other for a long time. But it felt insta-love, because they moved to lovey dovey, showery kissy in the blink of an eye. Not that I minded the romantic scenes. They were some of the most visceral, intimate scenes that I've read in awhile. Still, something was missing.
The nail in Juliette's wheel is Warner, her captor. He's evil. Shoot you in the face and walk away smiling sadistic. Yet an intriguing kind of evil. There are hints of a real person behind the cruelty. I wish we'd spent more time with Warner. Not for Juliette's sake, but for mine. I believe the next book in the series focuses more on Warner. I'm excited for it for that reason.
My main problem with Shatter Me was that I was bored. I don't know if that was because I don't like dystopias or because it was just dull. Regardless, I had trouble focusing on the book and often felt like I was forcing myself to get through it. The last quarter of the novel was a major change, which was actually my favorite part of the book. I wish it had come earlier.
I recommend reading Shatter Me for the unique writing style. The rest of the book is just okay. If you like dystopia, you very well may love it. And it's hard to beat the hot romance.