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 a word, Tahereh Mafi‘s debut novel “Shatter Me” is fast-paced. This is a book that, once started, you’ll struggle to put down. The only other book to have that affect on me this year was “The Hunger Games”, so the speedy plotting is a skill. The story doesn’t stop for breathing, zipping from action to romantic tension then straight back to action without stopping for breath. I loved it.
But keeping things lean and speedy comes at a cost – there’s very little setting description, making the dystopian future of the story hard to visualise. Characters are described sparingly, and given very little time to shine. Villan Warner is a brilliantly-written bad guy, who you can sympathise with and understand, but love interest Adam comes off as a bit two-dimensional at times.
The only thing Mafi doesn’t skimp on is the metaphors. They’re everywhere, and I really liked some of the clever turns of phrases.
“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.”
“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 hands tick tick tick their 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.”
If beautiful writing and an unputdownable story are what you’re needing in your life, “Shatter Me” will provide all of that and more – but if you want to get lost in a fictional world and its characters, you might be disappointed. Nonetheless, I loved the story and will happily pick up its sequel when it hits the shelves – I want to see more of Warner, and hopefully a bit more worldbuilding. I’m also a little curious how the X-Men similarities will be handled in future books.