Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Published by Harper Collins on November 15th, 2011

Author’s Website:

Synopsis from Goodreads website:

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 this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.


I have had a really hard time figuring out how to rate and review this book.   Mostly because I am so conflicted about it in general.  I think the synopsis is entirely accurate with its X-Men reference, but not in the way they are suggesting.  This was an interesting concept.  This girl has been locked away in an asylum after touching a young child (in an attempt to protect him) and he ended up dying because Juliette’s touch is lethal.  She gets a roommate in the asylum with Adam and the two are then promptly removed from the asylum because the overlord of the world wants her to be his head torturer. So far this was all excellent.  I loved the character of Warner and Adam was mildly interesting as well.  I read the first 130 pages or so without stopping and read well into the middle of the night without realizing it.

The writing was unique with the author putting in strikeouts over certain thoughts or feelings that the main character didn’t like.  It was interesting and made the book feel like reading the journal of a very troubled young woman.  But some of the writing made the story seem abrupt and choppy and it didn’t flow very well in places.  I can’t really put my finger on what made it feel that way but it took away from the story a little.

When this story really hit the brakes was with Juliette being Warner’s prisoner.  The plot really came to a screeching halt and never even started to recover.  At points it seemed like we were about to get answers to the questions of the book only to have it just drop and never get answered.  I also started to really tire of Juliette being the ultimate Mary Sue character.  She’s pretty, she’s sweet, she’s gentle, even when she did something awful like killing a boy it was only with good intentions, and every single male character in the book fell all over themselves drooling while she sat back in complete ignorance of what the big deal was.  This made me want to scream!  You would think that being able to kill people just by touching them would be a great flaw, except it isn’t because Juliette is basically Mother Teresa!

There isn’t even another significant female character in the entire book, just a bunch of males alternately drooling or being afraid of Juliette.  I believe “Benny” may have been female but we don’t actually meet her, only hear about her in a few sentences.  And there are female twins at the very end, but again they only make an appearance for about three sentences.  I really hated the X-Men thing too.  The resistance is rounding up people with “abilities” and turning them into superheroes who are going to save the world.  I saw that a few times, at the movie theater, and it was done a lot more completely.

The world building was also lacking by a great deal in this book.  We only get glimpses of the world as Juliette remembers it and a few brief glimpses of life in one city.  That’s it, there was no more world building and it made me feel disconnected from the story.  The closest we got to explaining this world was a rant about how we humans did this to ourselves.  We sprayed all these icky pesticides on food and made it inedible, we caged animals in inhumane conditions and so they died, we regulated food for profit and made others go hungry, we manipulated the climate with our man-made junk and polluted the world.  Okay!  We get it!  Now, go away treehugger and leave the condemning of modern life to someone not writing a work of fiction.  I don’t mind an author having an explanation for the end of the world that involves these kinds of things, but stop preaching to me about it already.  I read this book to enjoy it not get a lecture on all the bad things we’re doing to the earth.

After Adam and Juliette escape Warner the plot never really restarted and by the time I got to the last page I felt like I had gotten half of a story, not a complete story with a sequel coming out soon.  There were some interesting moments that made me ask some questions, but those questions never got resolved and neither did the story.  Even in a series each novel needs to be a complete story with a beginning, middle, and an end.  We got the beginning and we got the middle, but there was no decent ending.  While I was completely enthralled with the beginning of the book the ending left me with no interest in reading about this world any further.

To put an ending to my review, I will rate this 2.5 stars out of 5.


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