Book Review: Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Published: Harper Collins (November 15, 2011)
Audience: Young Adult
Source: Purchased in store
Young Adult  * Dystopian * Apocalyptic

Description from Goodreads:
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.
Shatter Me was one of the most hyped YA debuts of 2011. It was drawing comparisons to The Hunger Games and X-Men, and it was the latest in a lost of young adult novels being optioned for a film adaptation, so I was very excited to see if it lived up to the hype. Thankfully, for me, it did. The story is very original -- a girl who has a lethal touch who is forced to be a tool of war or part of a revolution -- and the world is very inventive. This is set in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian America. This seems to be a popular genre in recent years, but somehow Shatter Me manages to create some interesting things about the world that makes it stand out. This book gives us tastes of some of the aspects of this new America ruled by The Reestablishment, but there is so much to be answered in future books. Who are the other people trapped in the prison with Juliette in the beginning? How did she develop her abilities? And so many other questions that I can't ask without spoiling the book for you...

One of the most interesting things about this novel is the writing style. The prose is written in a kind of stream of consciousness from Juliette's point of view. Every thought that crosses her mind and every poetic comparison she makes are documented, so that reading the novel almost feels like sifting through her mind as things are happening. Also, many of her thoughts are striked out, which is an interesting technique I've hardly (if ever) seen in prose. In the world of the novel, Juliette is characterized as a monster for her deadly touch, so when her thoughts become morbid or self-deprecating, and she thinks I am a monster or I want to touch you but I can't, I like that the strikeouts provide a visual for her inner struggle with who she is. Personally, I really enjoyed how original and different this prose is, especially in a YA context. It might be disconcerting for some readers, but for me it was very refreshing and unique.

The characters in the novel are really what hooked me. Even though the end of the novel took the plot in a direction I wasn't expecting, I still loved the book because the characters were so great. As I said before, Juliette was a great protagonist because I felt like I had a perfect view into her thought process, which helped me understand why she might shy away from people or behave in strange ways. I love how her character went from timid and reserved at the beginning of the novel to assertive and strong as she became more comfortable with her 'ability'. I also love Adam in the novel. He is the other main character/love interest/person-we-root-for in the novel. He is supportive, strong, quite sexy, and an honorable guy. Very crush-worthy, so you can add him to your list of book boyfriends. All of the characters are interesting and complex in the novel, and character development is undeniably one of Shatter Me's strengths.

My favorite character, though -- and I know I am probably alone in this -- is Warner. For me, Warner is the most multi-dimensional, complicated, and human of the book's characters; however, I think he is supposed to be the villain/antagonist so I know I'm setting myself up for future heartache in the series. The thing about Warner is that he does horrible things: he is ruthless, aggressive, and even cruel. BUT, he's doing what he has to do in order to survive, so I can't fully hate him for trying not ot be a victim. Also, beneath his hard exterior, I think there's real emotion and sincerity in him. I really hope that future books explore his back story more, particularly his family history, because I have some theories about him and just find him so fascinating.

Honestly, I really loved Shatter Me. The plot began on Page One and the story moved quickly, with exciting twists and a great mix of action, romance, drama, and suspense. As I said before, the ending took the story in an unexpected direction, so I'm eager to see how that affects future books. I highly recommend this, particularly for fans of Wither (Lauren DeStefano), Divergent (Veronica Roth), and Incarceron (Catherine Fisher).

Tahereh Mafi is a girl. She’s 24. She writes books and reads books and drinks way too much coffee. SHATTER ME is her first novel, and the first of a trilogy, coming from Harper/HarperCollins on November 15, 2011. Film rights have been optioned by 20th Century Fox. Her work is represented by Jodi Reamer of Writers House, LLC. You can follow her on her blog: or on Twitter: @TaherehMafi

Her website is: