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An Unorthodox, Refreshing Book: A Review of Tahereh Mafi’s “Shatter Me” Description: “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. “

My Thoughts:

Tahereh Mafi is a writer to be appreciated. Her style of writing is totally unorthodox with run-on sentences, cross outs, numerous repetitions and lack of punctuation. Mafi reminds me of the poet e.e. cummings. Cummings didn’t use capitals in his poetry. It was a different approach to writing that helped him stand out. Mafi’s style is brave and refreshing.

This non-traditional way of writing really works in Shatter Me. The main character, Juliette, has spent a year in an asylum. She thinks she’s crazy. Mafi’s book reads like the ramblings of an insane person–in a good way. This is Juliette’s story and Mafi lets her character tell it in the manner fitting her.

Juliette is a strong character. She has to be to have survived a lifetime of not being able to touch people and no one wanting to touch her. She could have cracked under the pressure, but she survived. Mafi peels back layer upon layer to let us into Juliette’s world and discover her personality.

Another strong character is Warner. He’s someone to despise immediately. But, just like Juliette, he has many layers to his personality. The more you read, the more you learn about this troubled young man.

No story is complete without the love interest…Adam Kent. At first, you’re unsure about his motives. He’s learned how to be strong in a world that only wants to weaken all its survivors. When you learn Juliette is his motivation you jump into his corner. Fortunately Adam isn’t a one-sided character. We peel back a layer and discover more through his brother, James, and his friend, Kenji.

Mafi presents readers with a dire warning wrapped in an intriguing plot. Towards the end of the book we learn about the world Juliette, Adam, Warner and Kenji live in. It’s a world that man is destroying thanks to genetically modified food, pollution, commercial farming and toxic waste. Fortunately, Mafi doesn’t constantly hit us over the head with a political message. It’s contained in just a few paragraphs.

Shatter Me even touches on the issue of child abuse–Juliette, Warner and Adam were all victims. Readers learn how their coping mechanisms developed their personalities.

I loved this book by Tahereh Mafi. In the world of dystopian young adult fiction is was a refreshing, intriguing read. I highly recommend it.

Be sure to read the novella, Destroy Me after this book.

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