YA Review: Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1)

Title: Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Edition: Kindle
Rating: 3/5

This was good. It kept me reading – over breakfast, over lunch, and way past my bedtime. I kept intending to stop, but then reading just one more chapter, and then another.

Juliette is 17, and locked away from the world. She’s in an asylum – the only place her touch can’t hurt another person. Abandoned by her family when she is locked away for murder, she has no contact with the people who control her life. But the murder was an accident – she can’t control what happens when she touches another person’s skin, and now someone wants to use her as a weapon.

At the start of the book, Juliette is frightened and alone. She’s practising speaking, because she hasn’t spoken to anyone else for months. She has learned how to survive in her solitary confinement, but she’s desperate for human contact. Over the course of the book, she learns to take back control over her life. She learns to stand up for herself, and she learns who to trust, and who to fight. She’s an interesting character – strong, but damaged by the guilt she carries for the death she caused, and by the rejection of everyone she cared about. The first-person present-tense narrative makes her story immediate and intense.

As Juliette changes and develops, so does the writing style. At first, many of the sentences are crossed out. She seems confused, her thoughts often contradictory and extreme. She uses odd turns of phrase and jarring similies and metaphors to describe her feelings and experiences. As the story develops, there are fewer crossed out sections. As she grows in confidence, her thoughts become clearer. It’s an original and experimental writing style, and it helps to immerse the reader in Juliette’s world, and her state of mind.

The dystopian world is clearly imagined, as is the process of societal collapse. The supporting characters are likeable and just complex enough to keep you guessing at who can be trusted, and who is a threat. If I have one complaint, it’s that some of the things things that happen to the characters feel a little too contrived, the violence a little gratuitous, pushing an otherwise horrifying antagonist towards cartoonish levels of enjoyment.

That said, I finished ‘Shatter Me’, and immediately ordered the sequel. This is the first book of a series, and it feels like an introduction to a larger story. It was an easy, quick read, but I’m hooked, and I want to know what happens next.

Have you read Shatter Me? What did you think of the story? Were you, like me, in a hurry to find out what happens next? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

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