Friday, 9 December 2011

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by HarperCollins, 338 pages.

Description: 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.

Rating:



I have been ridiculously excited about the release of Shatter Me ever since I stumbled across author Tahereh Mafi's blog last year as it may just be the funniest writing blog I've ever had the pleasure to spend many Sunday afternoons reading (point in case: "Six reasons to wear pants while writing a novel"). And while the novel wasn't the witty and hilarious comic debut one would expect from the witty and hilarious Mafi, it certainly didn't disappoint.

Juliette is a 17 year-old girl with a deathly touch. She has been in isolation for 263 days and hasn't spoken to anyone during this time. Not having looked in a mirror for at least the same amount of days she even lost sight of herself and she doesn't remember the colour of her own eyes. All of this changes when she gets a cellmate in the shape of Adam. A dangerous looking but oh so familiar boy that turns Juliette's isolated world upside down.

Together they escape into a world that at first seems foreign and strange to the reader. It's a world where crops don't grow and birds don't fly and the Reestablishment is in control. A dystopian future that despite its peculiarities has an eery resemblance as to what our future can be a few decades down the line.

Predictably, Juliette encounters one of the leaders of the Reestablishment, a young military leader type by the name of Warner, and she has to do decide whether she wants to work with or against them. And that's where the story gets interesting. The book ends with quite a fantastic and unexpected development, perfectly leaving the novel open for future instalments.

What makes Shatter Me stand out from so many others in the genre is the beautiful writing. Mafi has a knack with words and she does not only use this in a comical and witty way as shown on her blog, but she also manages to construct the most beautiful sentences that leave the reader in awe of her way with words. It's probably a good thing that the plot to the novel progresses quite slowly as I got far too distracted by the prose along the line.

The only critique I can give the novel is that the unique approach for writing down main character Juliette's thoughts, by striking out some lines that contradict her other musings, while interesting gets annoying very quickly.

Thankfully this fades out as Juliette starts putting her jumbled thoughts in a more rationalised way but it did put me off in the first few chapters. However, I am glad that I continued on with the book despite this as this is the best YA dystopian novel I have read since The Hunger Games and Divergent.

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