Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Published: October 2nd, 2012 by Harper Collins
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.
On the first week of each year, I make it a habit to re-read one of my favorite books. I do it because I don’t want to risk reading a new book that I may not like and having a bad start to the new reading year. I’m weird like that.
So after reading Shatter Me three times, I find that I still really like this book. I still love all the things that I loved when I read it the first time, and I still dislike some parts of it that I disliked before. I also managed to find new things in this story that I never noticed before. That’s what I like about reading. Even re-reading the same book over and over again, I can always discover something new. It’s like having a childhood friend that you thought you knew inside and out, but they can still surprise you.
My first thought when I read this book was that Juliette is lonely. That pretty much sums it up in my opinion. I don’t think anyone would spend their time counting days and hours that lead to nothing. Juliette has been in isolation for 264 days, 6336 hours and she only has a notebook and a pen that’s running out of ink to keep her company. I’m the kind of person who likes to be alone (I get really moody and annoying when people breach my personal space), but I still have things to do, people to see (sometimes), and I’m not lonely. Juliette doesn’t have anything, so if she’s not even a little insane, I don’t think it would be realistic and the story would not have worked out.
I know some people really don’t like all the crossed out sentences and the metaphors, and I totally get it. There were a few sentences in the book that made me roll my eyes, but other than that, I actually really like the writing style. I think all the metaphors and hyperboles shows how her thoughts contrast her situation. “The sun drops into the ocean and splashes browns and reds and yellows and oranges into the world outside my window”, she embellishes the outside world because the inside of her cell is just ‘144 square feet of space’ with a small window and two beds, bleak and boring. I understand this since I’m a drama queen in real life. I exaggerate many things too, :).
Juliette is a complicated character. She wants to have contact with people, friendships, but she doesn’t think she deserves it. She reminds herself that she is human, then she says she’s a monster. A few times, while I was reading, I got annoyed with her. But then I tried to put myself in her shoes. If I was treated like a monster, experimented on and isolated, I don’t know if I would react like she did, or if I would be worse. In the first half of the book (I think less than half), I marked a lot of pages with post-it notes. These are the pages with the most highlighted sentences. I notice that in this part of the book, Juliette is more caught up in her own world, the flashbacks, thinking about raindrops, and flying birds and the world outside her window. But after a while, she has more interaction with people, and there are more conversations in the book. Her character grew throughout the story and I think it’s great.
When I first read this book, I liked Warner more than Adam, and I still do (Team Warner Forever). He is more interesting, more complex and I really wish there could be alternating POVs (Juliette and Warner). There are a few pages of Warner’s journal (?) in my copy of the book, and it is really fun to read. Even though he seemed like a villain, I always thought there was something more to his character.
I don’t really know what to say about Adam because he is just… Adam. He’s just… there. I feel like the only reason there is an Adam, is so that he can help Juliette escape. Maybe. Or maybe I’m biased because I’m on Team Warner. I don’t like the relationship between Adam and Juliette. Sure, they knew each other as kids, but he never even talked to her (“That was the day I was going to talk to you”), so I don’t think he really knows her that well. And then when she’s gone, Adam probably just made up this perfect image of her, based on all the good things she did when they were kids. Juliette, on the other hand, has been isolated and treated like a freak her entire life, so she doesn’t know any better.
There are some questions I wish were answered in the book, like, how did Juliette get her powers? How did everyone else get their powers? What happened to the world? I don’t remember if these questions are answered in the sequels, but I don’t think so. I don’t really mind, because the story is actually about Juliette, not about saving the world and all that, but I am curious.
So anyway, this is the kind of book that is not for everyone. I know, because I tried to make a friend read it and she gave me back my book two days later. But I like this book a lot. I like the writing, I like the story, I love Warner and Kenji and James and I’ll probably read it again a few more times in the future.
“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 love 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.”