Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi
Published: 15 November 2011 by Harper Teen
Pages: 340 (paperback)
Genre/s: YA, Dystopian
Source: Own library
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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.
Whenever I see someone is reading a book that they are probably going to dislike, I start to question their motivation behind reading it. I mean, why put yourself through torture when you could be reading something that rocks your world? But I do it myself, and Shatter Me is a perfect case in point. I love a good dystopian, but when the romance is more prominent than the world-building, it's probably going to end in frustration and also some feelings of guilt - why am I reading something that I won't like? Isn't that really unfair on the book?
In the interests of full disclosure, I read Shatter Me for Book Club *waves to awesome book club girls Jana and Karin* - and although I've owned a copy since shortly after it was first released, I possibly would never have gotten around to reading it otherwise.
First, the characters. Oh, Juliette, you are a contradiction - and normally that would mean I'd dislike you with a burning fiery passion. Alternately brave and shit-scared, she wasn't easy for me to like. But to be fair, she'd just spent a year in complete isolation in an asylum, so I'm a little bit more forgiving on the inconsistencies than I would normally be.
Connecting to the characters is, of course, the romance. Now I'm really sorry to all the Team Warner readers out there, but I don't get the bad boy attraction. He's a dick. A power-hungry, abusive dick. And he will never redeem himself to me.
Adam is sweeter, and much more the boy that I'd pick if I was Juliette - he's caring and kind and has this weird childhood-protective connection to Juliette that I found rather fascinating, even if it is a little too close to insta-love for my comfort. And sadly, that's pretty much all I have to say about the romance/s in Shatter Me - they just didn't rock my world.
It would be impossible to review Shatter Me without talking about the writing style - it's...unusual, and it took me a while to get used to all the metaphors and stuff, but by the end I actually enjoyed the style far more than all the other elements of the book put together. It's wordy, but it's not overwhelming - despite the fact there's a lot to take in, some of which works and some of which is just completely over the top, it's easy to read. Which is actually quite a skill.
The world building is interesting for what exists, but that's just the problem - there's not enough volume for me to have been completely sucked in by it. Humans have fucked up the environment and Juliette has a strange super-power that allows her to kill/hurt/maim people by touching them - sounds really cool, but there's just not enough substance for me.
Am I glad I read Shatter Me? Yes. I enjoyed the writing style immensely once I settled into it, and I could easily have read the whole book in one sitting. However, a bit more world-building and a bit less love-triangle-insta-love-romance would have made it far more memorable and enjoyable for me. I do own the second book, and maybe one day I will actually read it, but I'm undecided right now.