Friday, July 13, 2012

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1) by Tahereh Mafi

  • Title: Shatter Me
  • Classification: Young Adult (Ages 14 and up)
  • Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
  • Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (November 15, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0062085484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062085481
Author's Website:

'Sometimes I think the loneliness inside of me is going to explode through my skin and sometimes I'm not sure if crying or screaming or laughing through the hysteria will solve anything at all. Sometimes I'm so desperate to touch to be touched to feel that I'm almost certain I'm going to fall off a cliff in a alternate universe where no one will ever be able to find me.'...

'Things happen when people touch me. Strange things. Bad things.
Dead things.'...

'I can't remember the warmth of any kind of embrace. My arms ache from the inescapable ice of isolation...I live in a world of nothing.'

The last time someone touched Juliette was 264 days ago. That was the day she was sentenced to live in a insane asylum with bare minimum human contact. It has been 264 days since someone has smiled at her. 264 days she's been starved, one meal being her standard daily fare. All because someone was killed by her touch.

It's been 7 years since The Resistance took control of the country. 3 years since Juliette's parents relinquished their parental rights for Juliette to the Resistance. 264 days since she was incarcerated.

The world is a different place than it once was. The plants and animals have started to die off. The temperature is unreliable and sporadic--scorching hot one day and snowing the next. And the Resistance, a Nazi like organization, promised they would fix everything. They lied. What they promised and what they delivered are two entirely different things.

For 264 days things have remained the same, but Juliette's world is about to change. When she awakens from her sleep she's no longer alone in her room...

'I stifle my scream my urgency to run the crippling horror gripping my limbs.'
"You're a bbbb-"
"And you're a girl."

Welcome to Juliette's world.

This was such  a beautifully written book that I have to say Tahereh Mafi is an author to keep an eye on. I expect big things. Her style is lovely and original, incorporating strike out text to establish the main character's inner thoughts. As you can imagine, being locked up by yourself for so long would make you batty, and Ms. Mafi does an excellent job of portraying how aware Juliette is of the passing of time. Of time wasting away and her utter frustration with the environment she lives in. Numbers are used throughout the story in a fashion which I believe is meant to emphasize the amount of time that has passed--something Juliette is acutely aware of. She knows how many days she's been there, how many cracks are in the walls, how many steps it takes to get from one place to another, how many minutes she has to take a shower, etc

You've heard of paint by number, but Juliette lives life by numbers. Besides her journal, numbers are one of the few things she has left because when you're locked up, time is all you really have an abundance of. She emphasizes this when she states,
"Killing time isn't as difficult as it sounds.
I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand. I can rip the numbers off a clock and watch the hour hand tick tick tick its final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I've been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind."

Now things are changing. A boy has entered Juliette's solitary world. She believes this signifies the Resistance will soon kill her. But as she starts to get used to the boy... As she starts to trust him... As she begins to open up...the world that she's known for the past 264 days is ripped away and she discovers Adam is not who he appeared to be. She'll be forced to make a choice--join and work for the resistance  or face torture until she changes her tune...or worse.

Why is the book called Shatter Me? I believe because of this verse:
'He pulls my swaddled figure close to his chest and I shatter. Two three four fifty thousand pieces of feeling stab me in the heart, melt into drops of warm honey that soothe the scars in my soul.' She craves human touch and his embrace shatters her defenses, shatters her loneliness. Also, almost ever number mentioned in the book thus far has been given in it's numeral form. This signifies that she considers this moment as something special...something significant.

Once again a book has inspired a song to dance through my head. In this instance it inspired two--One is The Loneliest Number by Three Dog Night and Too Much Time On My Hands by Styx. They both seem rather appropriate.

Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 roses. While I loved the writing and the story, I sort of wish the author hadn't gone with the superhero angle for the story. Ms. Mafi had the opportunity to create a truly unique character, and I was a little disappointed she didn't explore that possibility. I look forward to seeing what Ms Mafi will do in the sequel, Unravel Me. Additionally, I look forward to reading Destroy Me, a novella which comes out October 2nd, which gives Warner, the ruthless leader of sector 45 who was put in charge of Juliette, his own story. It'll be interesting to read about him and how he sees things.

Order of Series:

Coming October 2nd (novella/short story):

Coming February 5th:

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