Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review: 'Shatter Me' by Tahereh Mafi

I have been locked up for 264 days.
I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen and
the numbers in my head to keep me company.  1 window. 4 walls.
144 square feet of space. 26 letters in an alphabet I haven't spoken
in 264 days of isolation.
6,336 hours since I've touched another human being.

Juliette hasn't spoken in almost a year. Hasn't interacted with another person in months. She spends her days counting cracks in the walls and peering through the small, dingy window of her cell waiting. Waiting to see a bird fly. Waiting for her life to make sense. Waiting. Then Adam is shoved into her cell. Just like that - everything changes.

As long as she can remember, Juliette has been different. A freak. A danger. The slightest brush of her skin causes overwhelming pain in the recipient and even brief full contact will kill. An accidental murder lands her in a series of juvenile detention centers and psych wards until, finally, she is placed in an asylum where she exists in total isolation and borderline mental breakdown. Juliette is fascinating. She is strong-willed and passionate, but damaged in multiple ways due to her experiences at the hands of her parents, teachers, classmates and jailers.  Every person who might have cared for or about Juliette has betrayed her, yet she remains hopeful of a better existence.  Each day she watches from her tiny window for a bird to fly past; her personal miracle.

There are no flat characters in 'Shatter Me'.  Each character is given a back story, relevance and individuality which makes for a very rich, believable dystopian read.  There are also few characters who do not have at least some redeeming value (though the 'bad guy' truly is a sociopathic monster).  Mafi puts the reader into a police state where fear is a primary motive and neighbors betray neighbors.  The levels of paranoia and desperation demonstrated by the characters of 'Shatter Me' are wonderfully illuminated by Mafi's use of language.

'Shatter Me' is one of the most beautifully written novels I've ever read.  Poignant, thought-provoking and amazingly lyrical.  This is so much more than just another dystopian novel and I highly recommend it to both teen and adult readers.

Book Source: Personal Copy
Reviewer: Rebecca

Recommended Ages: 14+ Mature themes, psychological abuse
Recommended for Readers of: