Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

My ARC pile from my summer library conference has finally, significantly lessened in size. I have less than 10 ARC’s left from June! This is one of them. And it did not disappoint.  Mafi’s writing style was not my favorite, but this is so overshadowed by the sizzling romance and the amazing story of Juliette.
Mix together some serious 1984, militaristic, communism type dystopian world with X-Men and that’s the setting for this. It takes a little while to learn about the messed up world Juliette lives in because the book begins after she has spent 264 straight days locked up in a room, with no communication with the outside world. And Juliette has some serious issues. She has lived pretty much her whole life with no human contact. It’s discovered early on by her parents that whenever Juliette touches anyone, they suffer and can die. She’s ostracized her whole life, made fun of by everyone, left alone by everyone else, and when she makes an attempt one day to protect a 3-year old from an abusive mother, she ends up accidentally killing the child. Since that day, she’s locked up in this room, cold, starving, and thirsty.
The sad thing is that its clear that Juliette feels as though she deserves her imprisonment. She tried her whole life to be better, to be a good person, to try to prove to her family that she deserved to be touched, but she never was quite good enough. Then things really get interesting when The Establishment (really scary, world-dominating political power) locks a boy up with her. The boy’s familiar. And Juliette thinks its a test to see if she’ll touch him. She doesn’t, but eventually the two become friends, surviving the harsh circumstances together.
And Juliette learns from him how much worse the world has become since her imprisonment. I finally got see what the world outside her prison cell was like, and it sounded awful. The world has been destroyed by natural weather disasters. People have been dying from the world’s lack of food. It sounds like everyone is starving and jobless and homeless. And the Establishment scares everyone into obedience with weapons. The Establishment has killed anyone who opposes them. And it has begun to burn books and art. It’s apparently about keeping everyone unified, with no religion, no culture, and one universal language.
Just when Juliette thinks she can trust Adam, the two of them are taken out of their cell at gunpoint, and she learns that the Establishment wants to use her as a secret, torturous weapon. Oh, and that Adam is actually a soldier for the Establishment. Lucky for Juliette, Adam is that boy from her past and he’s discovered that he can touch her. Juliette has to pretend to be civil around Warner, the head of their Establishment sector, to stay alive. Warner can’t touch her, but he’s fascinated by her, has her dress in fancy clothes, and looks at her all the time. He tests her abilities, and they all discover that Juliette also has super strength when she’s really angry.
And what makes this book so good is the romance. Watching the romance develop between Juliette and Adam (who’s not a very loyal soldier) was amazing! It would be good without the whole Rogue from X-Men type deal. Feeling what Juliette was feeling, to finally be touched by someone who loved her was just so intense, and made the romance so much better!
Any way, the two love birds escape the establishment, pick up a younger brother and a friend along the way, evade death at every corner, escape torture, get shot at, steal tanks, bust through steel factories, fight powerful leaders, out run soldiers, and so much more.  I won’t ruin the ending because it was super awesome (even more so than everything else I’ve mentioned), but just know that the ending only makes this book even more comparable to X-Men, and in a good way. Oh, and there’s a secret Juliette has yet to tell Adam or anyone about her and Warner, and this makes the drama so much more dramatic!
Just in case you can’t tell, I loved it. The story was fantastic. I love reading about girls with super powers. I loved seeing the positives and the negatives of Juliette’s powers. And I loved watching her grow stronger and more rebellious as the book went on.
The beginning chapters were a little hard to read for me because I’m not a fan of the writing style. Mafi uses a lot of metaphors. And while I get that the point is to make Juliette come off as rather insane, lonely, and weak in the beginning, I think that would have gotten through fine without all the not so poetic metaphors. I do like all the worlds that are scratched out, making it seem as though we’re reading her journal. And I liked reading all the things she said and comparing them to the things she scratched out, and wished she said. And either the metaphors slimmed down as the book went on, or I just got used to them and stopped caring because the story was so good.
Also, it kind of just ended…abruptly. And I’m dying to know more. I love the direction the book is taking. I really want to see what can possibly happen in this rather bleak world. I will anxiously be anticipating a book 2. And I recommend this one to YA readers who love X-Men. I give it a 9/10.

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