Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi
Paperback, First Edition: 340 pages
Published: October 2nd 2012 by Harper Collins (first published November 15th 2011)
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.
I read this book over a year ago because it was the monthly read for a book group on Goodreads. When I first started reading it, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. There are a lot of crossed out lines within the text and Juliette seems to have obsessive thoughts and is rattled with anxiety. As I began to learn Juliette’s circumstances—her ability, her parents sending her away, her incarceration—it all began to make sense. And the once the action and romance came into play, I was definitely hooked. This book is most definitely a page turner.
I liked Juliette as a main character. I really felt for her. She has been treated like a monster because of her ability, something which she is unable to control. Even her own parents wanted nothing to do with her, which is always sad. The reality of it is that Juliette is far from a monster. She doesn't want to hurt anyone. The fact that she makes a point never to touch anyone proves that. What I find the most amazing is that despite her history of being shunned and feared, she never took Warner’s promise of revenge. She knows that using her abilities to elicit fear and to gain power will not make her feel better. I also think Juliette may have more control over her powers than she truly realizes and I think that she will learn and develop it more as the story progresses in the rest of the trilogy.
Warner is the villain in this book. He is a head solider of the Reestablishment, the rulers of their world after people started dying from the effects climate change and global warming on the planet (e.g., heat, animals dying, famine). Warner is egotistical, arrogant, selfish, and out for only himself. He wishes to use Juliette and her powers as a weapon. He tries to convince Juliette that he holds the key to her getting revenge on all who have wronged her. As good of a villain as Warner is, however, I think there is a lot more to his story than meets the eye and it would explain why he is the way he is. I actually like that we don't know much about his story right now because I believe that if we did, we may have difficulty disliking him.
“You are the only good thing left in this world.”
This leads us to Adam Kent. Adam is a solider in Warner’s army and is assigned to watch over Juliette while she’s held captive by Warner. He knew her as a child in school and it turns out he is the only one who did not view her as a monster.
I love the relationship between Adam and Juliette. I love the passion that lies between them. Adam doesn't see her as a monster and he seems to want to protect her. He provides the love and friendship that she's been missing and yearning for her entire life. He also is able to admit to her when he is at a loss.
“I don’t know what to do,” he says, and it’s like a confession that costs him much more than I can understand. Control is slipping through his fingers and he’s desperate to hold on.
Up until this point, he has been the one with the plans and solutions. This type of confession is very difficult for him to make and Juliette is probably the only person in the world to which he can let his guard down.
There is a bit of symbolism in the novel…the white bird. In this era it has been a long time since anyone has seen an actual bird fly by because of deterioration of the ozone layer. However, in Juliette’s dreams, she sees a white bird.
“I've dreamt about the same bird flying through the same sky for exactly 10 years. White streaks of gold like a crown atop its head.”
She soon learns that the bird in her dreams isn't just a dream when she sees a tattoo on Adams chest of the same bird. Although we don’t really know just yet what the bird tattoo means, I think there are some things that can be taken from it. Juliette speaks of the bird flying away, which is truly what she wishes to do, so obviously the bird flying represents freedom. It also represents a better time in their society, before climate became unstable, before the Reestablishment took over. For Juliette, a bird flying in the sky represent a brighter future for their society. Finally, the tattoo of the bird on Adam’s chest is a part of their special connection. If that particular bird means freedom for Juliette, it being on Adam is sign that he will be her savior, her ticket to freedom.
One issue I have is that I have a hard time really visualize this world because they don't go into very much detail about it. We know that the Ozone layer disintegrated, that climate is unpredictable, and many of the creatures that we know of are unable to survive within it. The rest is a bit up in the air. Unlike many other dystopian/apocalyptic novels, this book doesn't really seem to be centered on that. I hope that we learn more in the later books, because I would like to have a better grasp of the situation.
I highly recommend this book. It is well written, the language is almost poetic, there is some good character development, symbolism, and it has a lot of action and romance. The route the book takes at the end wasn't entirely surprising to me, but it was kind of cool because I've never read a book that went that route. The book doesn't end in a clear cut cliffhanger, but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered which make me excited to read the rest of the series.