Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me, #1
Release Date: October 2nd 2012
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 colour.
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Juliette has been locked away for years, ever since she was fourteen and taken from her parents. In the asylum where she has been for the better part of a year she has no contact with anyone else, her meals are all delivered through the door, the time she has to wash is taken in the dark and hurried to avoid the other inmates. Then, one day, she gets a cellmate.
She instantly recognises Adam from when they were children but she keeps him at arm’s length. Juliette knows all too well what touching her skin will do to other people so she has shut herself off from the world and from her new cellmate whom she only wants to be close to. Then the Reestablishment come for her.
Taken from the asylum Juliette finds herself dining with the head of Sector 45, finds herself with a wardrobe of luxurious dresses, her own room with a comfy bed, and access to the very best food three times a day. But there’s a price. Her interaction with Adam as her cellmate was a test and now Warner, the head of Sector 45, knows Juliette has not been irreversibly damaged by her time in isolation he wants her to work for him.
Warner believes that Juliette can use her powers for the Reestablishment, helping them keep control over the civilians and the soldiers, however Juliette is determined not to give into Warner. She fears him and what he wants from her but Warner maintains all he wants is for Juliette to properly master her powers and work with him, not for him. Juliette is put through rigorous tests, and she sees the dark side, both to Warner’s leadership of his Sector and the Reestablishment itself.
Juliette doesn’t wants anything to do with the Reestablishment, even more so after what she’s seen, but she isn’t sure who she can trust. She may remember Adam from their schooldays but he shows no recognition of her, and even if she could trust him is there anywhere she could go where Warner and the Reestablishment would not find her.
Juliette has been moved through the system, from place to place before ending up in the asylum when she was fourteen, and as such she is a very closed off person. Even when she finally gets a cellmate she writes in her notebook rather than reaching out to him. Juliette has been scorned all her life, by her parents and her school friends, ever since her ability to kill people with her touch was revealed.
I think it would have been very easy for Juliette to become a cruel and unhinged character after everything she faced, both as a child and in the asylum, but she is the opposite of that. Everything she went through just made her more kind, more careful and unwilling to hurt people around her. She doesn’t cow to Warner’s attempts to convert her to the Reestablishment’s goal, believing they are wrong and Warner is evil.
Adam is a loyal soldier for the Reestablishment, or so it seems. When he is first thrown into Juliette’s cell with her he is harsh, trying to assert his dominance unsure of how his she will react to him, but eventually he softens up. He tries to reach out to Juliette and doesn’t seem put off when she rejects his advances. Within the Reestablishment Adam blends into the background among all the other soldiers in Sector 45 but there is more to him than meets the eye.
Now I was aware, before starting this book, that there is a love triangle between Juliette, Adam and Warner. As it stands now I’m not really shipping Juliette with either of them. Adam and Juliette’s relationship felt a lot like insta-love. Adam admired her from afar when they were in school together but he never approached her, never spoke to her, simply built an image of her in his mind and fell in love with that image. Juliette is in one way the same, she admired Adam from afar and fell in love with the image of him she created in her mind, but also as the first/only person she can touch their relationship felt a little bit convenient.
Warner on the other hand had a very forceful and almost rape-y vibe to him. He seemed to force his feelings and wants onto Juliette, ignoring her protests, not only in regards his feelings for her but also in her role with the Reestablishment. However I did like the fact that Warner seems to want Juliette to master her abilities, everything he does, however twisted it may be, is his skewed way to help Juliette discover everything about herself and her ability.
The world is dying, things have changed since Juliette was a child, and changed even more while she’s been locked away. Food is scarce and the Reestablishment has taken control of everything, forcing their ideals on the civilians who are left trying to make something of their ruined lives. However, asides from the small glimpses we get we don’t see much of the world as it is now in this book. Part of me liked this aspect because we see everything from Juliette’s POV and as she’s been locked away for years with no interaction with anyone sane it really emphasised her loneliness; we didn’t know more than she does. The writing style came together in a way that gave us a unique insight into Juliette’s mind and, in spite of staying strong, it hasn’t left her unscathed. Also it would have been interesting to see more of how Juliette’s powers worked and where they came from. From what we see it seems as though she was born with them but how, and why; are they genetic, an accident, some after-effect from the end of the world?
While I enjoyed Shatter Me at times it seemed like a generic dystopian novel. It was good don’t get me wrong but I felt like I’ve read the story time and time again in other dystopian books. However it was a good start to the series, and when I finished I was excited to get started on the second book, hoping to see more from Warner and less from Adam.
What did you think of Shatter Me? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.