Monday, November 28, 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

This is the longest review I have ever written, if you make it to the end, thank you.
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.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

I read. A Lot. I consider myself to have a pretty good memory. I usually keep notes with post-its or a piece of paper as I read a book I plan on reviewing. I started out that way with Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. Me, the book and a post it note. My notes filled up just into the first chapter, I started carrying around a pad of them instead, they got used up. I moved onto the computer and by this point I just felt like I wanted to quote the whole book for review. As I just sat and finished reading the last chapter I am at a loss for words of how I am to proceed here. This rarely happens to me. Words should come easily with things you want to share, but how do you portray so much in just one review without it turning into a novella of it’s own. I considered writing the author a fan letter, hoping she'd respond, needing to be inside her head. But talk about boundaries. So I tweeted her instead, told her I thought her book was amazing and tried not to be that creepy stalker girl who talks of crawling in her brain. Instead I will do that here. Get ready, and I hope I can portray my feelings as a fan and not a creeper.

Every once in awhile there is a book that is highly anticipated. This was one of those books for me. I started seeing chatter about it during BEA. I listened, and pre-ordered the book back in May 2011. When it arrived, I read it immediately and felt like it deserved every bit of hype that it’s getting.

Some people are turned off by the fact that it has similarities to xmen and it's just another book to jump into the highly popular dystopian novels this year. I feel that neither of these are justifications alone. There is so much more in this book than a young timid girl in a world she does not understand.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the writing style. I have never experienced a visual and descriptive way to get inside a characters head as this author does with Juliette. There are several times that writing is crossed out on the pages. I think that it made the points more poignant by not only letting the reader know that Juliette is confused, not thinking straight, imagining things and cannot choose the correct words of how she’s feeling. By crossing one thing out and using another in it’s place in some instances was a way to show two different ideas flashing across her mind as well as her indecision and insecurity of what is really happening and what she may be imagining. Juliette has been locked up for a very long time and before that she did not have interactions with people in fear of hurting them. Hurting anybody either physically or emotionally is the very last thing she wants to do.
Another factor about the writing was that it was very descriptive and visually poetic and almost demands the readers attention at all times. I have chosen some of my very favorite examples here.
“I’m spinning, stranded in the middle of the ocean of my own imagination.”

“ I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand, I can rip the numbers off a clock and watch the hour hands tick tick tick their final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I’ve been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind. “ What a masterful way of portraying an idea like “killing time.”

“He shifts and my eyes shatter into thousands of pieces that ricochet around the room, capturing a million snapshots; a million moments in time. Flickering Images faded with age, frozen thoughts hovering precariously in dead space, a whirlwind of memories that slice through my soul.”

“The sun is an arrogant thing, always leaving the word behind when it tires of us. The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do, Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections."

As the story goes on some of this imagery in the writing dissipates and we see less of it, but we also see less of the timid and indecisive girl we are introduced to in the beginning of the story as well. I saw as the story progressed there is less being crossed out and less of this descriptive writing into a more of the usual type of writing. I can only hope that the next books will still portray some of this writing style that I have come to love and we just don’t see enough of in Young Adult literature today.
I also have read that the writing style has put some people off from enjoying the story. I can also see why others may not enjoy it as much as I did, but nevertheless there is a fantastic story behind the writing as well.
The book has action, adventure, and super humans in a highly imaginative writing style. I loved the characters and how they interact with each other. Warner has more depth than just being the bad guy and Adam is more mysterious than just a love interest. Kenji brings humor and in the end the story just would not have been the same without him and hope that we get to see more of each of these characters in the near future.

As I was skimming the Amazon website I came across and advanced e-copy that stated it had audio and video. This made me very curious as what an interactive copy of this book would contain. I decided to ask the author what the “advanced audio visual” might mean for this book and she responded “ it has a bunch of bonus features, plus a piece from Warner’s POV” and I purchased this immediately and checked it out.
I loved the added documents and the piece of Warner’s POV, it also gave me a first chapter glimpse at the audio book (which I think the narrator is a little too soft spoken and I have to say I enjoyed the reading experience much more. I also did not see any visual additions to the advanced e-copy, just the sample of the audio which you can also get a sample of for free on just not as much as the ecopy offered.
I will still recommend the e-copy if you are interested in some extra info and Warner’s piece.

If it has not been clearly stated here. I give this book 5 stars. I loved every minute of it, cannot wait to see what this author will bring out next, and highly anticipate it to grab my attention just the same. If she by chance reads this review, Tahereh Mafi, your writing is beautiful, it touched my soul, please never stop.

1 comment:

  1. It really was an enjoyable book. I have mixed feelings about the writing, which I mentioned in my video review. I plan to post it next week. Great review. Thanks for sharing it!


What do you think?