Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shatter 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. 

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting asThe 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.

I literally devoured this book.

I wasn't supposed to. I was supposed to be saving it for school tomorrow.  I was supposed to be doing something PRODUCTIVE today. But, well, that didn't happen.

This book was pretty fabulous.  I wanted it for weeks and weeks because the cover was awesome and the premise was awesome and the author was awesome, so what was there not to want?  And as the weeks passed and the positive reviews came pouring in, I built a pretty high pedestal for this book.  I was so excited to read it. So afraid that it wouldn't be as amazing as I hoped.

But I think it was.

First off, the writing.  I feel like saying it's beautiful, or saying that it's like poetry, just doesn't express this well enough.  When I read Tahereh Mafi's writing, I was Juliette, a broken, lonely, slightly-crazed girl and my thoughts would run on and contradict themselves and repeat repeat repeat and it just swallowed me into the story.  That is why I read this so quickly. Because I was not reading about Juliette. I was her.  And the imagery and the emotion and the metaphors are so vivid, so gorgeous, that I feel like I could just quote the entire book at you. Here are some examples:

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books. 
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.” 

“Raindrops are my only reminder that clouds have a heartbeat. That I have one, too.” 

“Hope is hugging me, holding me in its arms, wiping away my tears and telling me that today and tomorrow and two days from now I will be just fine and I'm so delirious I actually dare to believe it.” 

“Someone picked up the sun and pinned it to the sky again, but every day it hangs a little lower than the day before. It's like a negligent parent who only knows one half of who you are. It never sees how its absence changes people. How different we are in the dark.” 

Tell me that isn't beautiful.

And there's the world.  A dark and cracking world, the epitome of what we think of when the word "dystopian" is used.  The setting more than intrigued me, and I'm eager to learn more.  

But last, we have the characters.  I really liked Juliette as a main character.  She was complex and real and I felt everything as it happened to her.  Maybe most importantly, she wasn't a useless damsel in distress. Yes, she had weak moments, yes, she got scared a lot, and yes, she cried. But after all she's been through, that's more than understandable.  I'd probably be a wreck.  Juliette isn't.  She fights.  She fights against those who try to hurt her and she fights for what she cares about and she doesn't just back down.  I loved that.  I really, really loved that.

Since I don't want this to turn into a huge ramble, I'm going to say that I liked all the other characters and Mafi developed them well and skip to the other one that I really loved.


Yes, that's right. Not the love interest, the villain.

A big mistake authors make in YA these days is to think that the villains cannot have feelings.  That they must be pure evil, and that's why they're doing what they are.  If they're pure evil, then the readers won't ever question the MC's need to stop them, right? Win win!


If a villain is a demon, then fine, make them pure evil.  But when you come down to it, a human is a human.  No matter how twisted and warped and crazed they are, they are still human and they still think and feel and desire.  They still care. It may be a sick sort of caring, but they care, and you can never forget that.  That even the cruelest of villains have some humanity.  That there's still a heart beating inside them.

I think it's their humanity that makes villains both wonderful and terrifying.

And Warner had humanity.  He was a terrible human being, let it be said.  Warner needs serious psychological help. Warner is the bad guy.  But he is not just the bad guy.  He is the nineteen year old boy who's been molded into something terrifying by a horrible upbringing.  He's the nineteen year old boy who still wants a girl, no matter that it's part obsession, that she'll never want him.  When I really look at Warner, I don't see some ruthless villain.  I see a sick boy.

I really love that.

There are only two reasons that I am giving this a 4 and not a 5, and I was really torn on which rating to give.  The first reason is the romance.  I do understand why Juliette fell for him so hard--after being isolated for so long, how could she not love the only person who ever cared? And I understood why he cared for her, too, and I appreciated that Tahereh did not make them chaste little angels as is the current trend and she expressed their emotions beautifully.  The fact is, when it comes down to it, I am just not a romance girl.  So while this was very well done, heavy romance just doesn't sit that well with me. Romance fans will gobble it up.

The second reason is that I just wish I knew a bit more.  I'm aware that it's a trilogy, so obviously she can't give everything away right from the start, but I still feel almost completely in the dark. I just want to know a bit more: about the Reestablishment, about her powers, about the world in general.  Basically, I need book two a.k.a. Snuggle Me to come out in the near future.

Despite my minor problems with it, Shatter Me was a really excellent book, and I'd recommend it to pretty much everyone.  With the warning that they will probably be unable to do anything but read on when they finally start it.  

4 stars.


Hannah Elisabeth

I've wanted to read this book based on Tahereh's awesomeness alone. Now I'm even more impatient to actually get my hands on it. So thank you for making my lack of bookstore-access that much more horrible with all these reviews... :P

*Continues stalking archives and avoiding essay-rewrites*

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