Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me (#1)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Published: November 15, 2011
Pages: 357
Series: yes (second installment 'Unravel Me' published February 5, 2013)
Source: purchased

Goodreads Summary: 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.

When I come across a book and its many reviews, very positive and very negative, I sometimes feel compelled to read it just to get my own perception and my own say in it, and it's interesting not knowing if you're going to hate or love the book but you'll read it just to find out.

This wasn't entirely the case with 'Shatter Me' but a version of it. It was the power of reviews that had me stay away and the power of reviews that had me approach. I read a sample of the book and felt sort of hypnotized, to be honest with you.
It told me I wanted to know more more more. (I just had to do that. If you've read the book you'll be familiar with the repetitive words and the strikethroughs.)

Which brings me to Mafi's (controversial) writing style. I completely get the frenzy around it. It is not traditional writing - throughout 'Shatter Me' Mafi, as mentioned, repeat words and phrases (example: I don't know I don't know I don't know), uses strikethrough on words and phrases like Juliette is crossing out her own thoughts, and writes smaller parts with only lowercase letters.

It was the writing and not the storyline that caught my attention. I've never read anything remotely like it and I was impressed that someone "dared" push the limits.
The strikethroughs got to me first; it was a little distracting, I didn't understand it at first and I even considered that the book had been misprinted.

Weirdly enough, the repetitive words weren't a huge issue for me. Especially in the beginning when you meet Juliette who's been locked up in an asylum, it suited. It just really did. She'd been forced to adjust to an insane environment for two-hundred and sixty-four days in her own lonesome company - who wouldn't be repeating nonsense?

The repetitiveness were her scattered, unstable thoughts. Mafi did an excellent job of portraying Juliette as someone verging on crazy, as someone who had in fact been locked up for as long as she had.

It wasn't until later in the book when the unstable part of Juliette didn't feel as current anymore that I could've gone without her repeating thoughts because, by that point, it felt more like Mafi was trying to keep up with it  rather than something that contributed to Juliette's state of mind.

And wow have I never come anywhere close to commenting this much on the writing of a book only. Mafi has indeed left an impression, and that alone is an accomplishment.

As to the storyline - I was so caught up on the writing I'd hardly processed what the story was all about. The Reestablishment want to take advantage of Juliette's ability; and Warner, the young leader of sector 45, is the head of the case and also happens to be obsessed with Juliette.

Warner's personal intentions with Juliette were.. disturbing. The whole thing was. He would do something nice with a twisted mind. Juliette would express her disgust towards him but then manage to talk to him anyway, curiously asking him questions, and even making a "joke."

Juliette lacked logic, strength, and clarity at times. She never behaved outright cold or spitefulness towards Warner. He should've resembled every emotion of pain or hatred that she felt, and despite making her do horrible things and making her be there "working with him" at all, she could still find it in her to just talk to him.

In general, I didn't have a problem with Juliette. Her mind was a maze and I wanted to learn it but there were some things that felt out of place for sure, things that didn't fit with someone who was supposed to be broken. 

Enter Adam. Authors have got to stop using that name because sometime in the future the word "hot" is going to get replaced my "Adam."
I was surprised to respond to him so quickly. The way Mafi chose to introduce him was very interesting, a good move, and I even thought that she should've carried on with the part of Juliette, Adam, and the asylum for longer so that the "betrayal" would've made much more of an impact.

I really liked Adam. Without being the obvious, in your face, forced-upon-you perfect; he was pretty flawless - good and gentle and alluring.

I take it the history Adam and Juliette shared and what was later revealed [Spoilers starting!] Such as Adam having been in love with Juliette three years back and had volunteered to do the assignment because he cared for her. Yes, of course. [Spoilers ended!] was to strengthen their bond, it really didn't have much of an affect and came across as more to perfect their love rather than bring something to the story.

It's extremely rare that I read a book with non-existent romance and love it, so I'm not complaining when there's more romance than expected, which there was - some of it I really responded to and other had me wonder how they could possibly have the time and sense to kiss and cuddle when something so alarming and terrifying was going on.

I especially wondered and questioned how Juliette, someone who'd been locked up for nearly a year adjusted so quickly to everything. How she even managed to speak to Adam at the asylum. This is a girl who hasn't spoken or seen a human being in almost a year so I found that her adjustment was too drastic. She functioned too easily, loved too fast. In just a month or so the Juliet who may or may not have been insane, was changed.

I can't say I loved the direction Mafi chose to steer the story (when the many X-Men references came to make sense). I liked that there was so much more than Juliette and the asylum, that there was so much more to learn.. but 'Shatter Me' had been rightfully fresh up until then. Let's just say the story took a major turn into fantasy-land and I'm uncertain it will be to my complete liking.

James and Kenji were two great characters I'm looking to read more about and I'm just generally ecstatic for the next installment and what is to come.


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