“S” is for Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Shatter Me has been on my ‘to read’ list forever.  I started it ages ago only to set it aside for something else (like writing).  I just recently came back to it and started from the beginning and finished it two nights ago.  All I can say is Wow.

From the author’s 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.

This book captured my attention from the very first line:

I’ve been locked up for 264 days.

It only gets better from there.  Tahereh Mafi has created the ‘it’ factor, that thing that makes books unique and different.  Juliette’s voice throughout the book is captivating.  I was completely sucked into the pages! The romance is intense, the writing style unique, and I couldn’t put the book down.

The settings are beautifully written, but Mafi doesn’t use a lot of words to place us where we need to be.  Her descriptions are clean, concise.  No extra words here.  Nothing to bog down the pace.

The story moves along at a perfect clip, and the climactic scenes had me turning the pages even faster.  I found myself shifting to the edge of my seat a couple of times.  Mafi did an excellent job of placing the reader inside the action.

I adore the characters.  Adam and Juliette are perfect together and Warner is an awesome bad dude.  Even smaller role characters like James and Kenji are strong in their scenes, even though they are not ‘on stage’ for long periods of time.  There are some other characters that don’t show up until the very end, but Mafi continues to deliver a real-life feel for each of them.  They have their own unique voices, styles and I felt as if I knew them up close and personal.

The only thing that I felt could have been better was the plot.  It fell flat to me.  I didn’t feel like much was resolved, and I had just as many questions when I closed the book as I did when I opened it.  I didn’t have ‘closure’.  When I think about what I was expecting in a plot and what I got, I was slightly disappointed.

We see that there has been some sort of nuclear blast, but there are people living very near the blast zone.  How?  We’re left to believe the blast occurred not too long ago, but we don’t know when or how.  Juliette was accused of committing a crime when she was younger and she was put away, but where and by whom? (if by the Reestablishment, then why was the Reestablishment looking for her?)  

We find out the Reestablishment wants to use her as a weapon, but a weapon against whom…the innocents?  There’s also a huge hole surrounding Juliette’s parents and Warner’s mother that goes unanswered, yet it was brought up several times.  

Sadly, I felt like I ran breathlessly throughout the book only to hit a brick wall.  In the end, Juliette asks all these questions, the same ones I had, and to a certain extent they are answered, but  not in depth.  At one point I felt like I was listening to a sermon on the evils of humanity.  Those two brief paragraphs jerked me out of the story for a very, very brief moment.  As in the climactic finale of Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn, I felt betrayed there wasn’t a big fight scene at the end.  The entire novel led up to it.  My heart raced to the very end only to fizzle.  I know there are sequels coming, but I was expecting…more.

Even with the lack of closure (unless you consider the guy and the girl finding each other to be the major plot line), this debut novel by Mafi is well-deserving of 4.5 stars out of 5.  It’s an amazing work and well worth the read.  If Shatter Me is any indication of what this author is capable of, she has a new fan in me.