Sara’s Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Sometimes I think a book gets over-hyped and over-buzzed to the point of being detrimental, and I think that’s the case with Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. Because while I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it didn’t quite live up to all the buzz I’d been hearing. So here’s my initial advice: block out all the hype, and just start reading with fresh eyes. You’ll find the book much more enjoyable!

Shatter Me tells the story of 17-year-old Juliette, who has spent her life without the touch of another human being. And for the last 264 days, she’s been completely isolated — locked alone in a cell. Her touch is lethal, and she’s learned to hate herself. But everything changes when a boy is sent to her cell — and she starts to learn new things about her world, her powers, and herself.

Perhaps the strongest trait of Shatter Me is Mafi’s use of stylized, stream-of-consciousness style writing. Left alone for so long, it’s only natural that Juliette would revert to living inside her own head — and Mafi brilliantly executes this with her writing technique. The use of crossed out words, in particular, is extremely powerful — and we see how Juliette edits her own thoughts, even to herself. When Mafi slips into more traditional prose, the story doesn’t feel quite as strong — with some passages telling more than showing — however, it definitely helps progress the story quickly. And that fast pacing is key when balancing out the more meandering, stream-of-conscious passages that are so beautiful to read.

It’s also wonderful to witness Juliette’s transformation. At the beginning, she is introverted and afraid of herself … yet throughout her journey in Shatter Me, Juliette learns to own her power. To accept it and use it, rather than fear it. And while her weaknesses in the beginning may be frustrating, that leads to some very satisfying moments when she overcomes those hurdles.

While Mafi’s dystopian world remains a bit mysterious (perhaps stronger world building in book 2 will flesh out her universe), it is colored with a brilliant cast of supporting characters. Adam is troublesome but charming. Warner is evil yet intriguing. And along the way, new faces pop in to fill out the world and perpetuate the story to its next stage. (I really can’t say more — I don’t want to spoil it!)

Shatter Me is in stores November 15th!

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