Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Year: 2012 (First published 2011)
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
I know that I’m in the minority when I say that I actually really liked the repetition and word striking. I know… But hear me out!
It reminded me of the way thoughts go through your head. You’re constantly thinking and discarding old thoughts, like
I need to go for a run I need to sit on the couch. Or when you’re worried about something and you keep thinking and stressing out about it. Sometimes you second guess yourself, sometimes you think a million miles an hour. So, no. The writing style didn’t bother me. What drove me up the wall and down the street to Walmart and back was the content. More on that later, here is a quote from the book to keep you occupied until then:
“I always wonder about raindrops.
I wonder about how they’re always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. It’s like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn’t seem to care where the contents fall, doesn’t seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the drops dare to tap on their doors.
I am a raindrop.
My parents emptied their pockets of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab.”
Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ. Make it stop! The entire book is filled with gems like this, and it only succeeded in annoying me. I can understand a few quotable metaphors when the writing calls for it, but sometimes you just have to reign it in.
No one cares if you’re a raindrop Juliette, suck it up and get your shit together.
I never thought I would find a character I hated more than Tris Pryor from Divergent, but Juliette takes the cake. While I could definitely sympathize with her character as being a product of her circumstances, there are definitely two types of people that emerge from that kind of abuse. The first is someone passive who lets their experiences and shortcomings define who they are as a person and are unable to do anything but dwell on the negative. The second is someone who, despite their experiences, channels their fear and insecurity into strength and determination to change their circumstances. Unfortunately for us, Juliette shows more of the former rather than the latter.
Juliette was so melodramatic and insecure about everything. We couldn’t go two sentences without blushing, crying, whining, freezing, gasping, or trembling. Yes, I get that she’s been locked in an insane asylum for being bat-shit crazy, but couldn’t we have just left her there? She clearly isn’t the hero we need. The only redeeming quality to her character is Adam, her love interest, who gets her to finally start valuing herself as a person. Unfortunately, any character development we get from Juliette is not done because she wants to change, but rather because she wants to change for Adam.
And what a bizarre and needy romance they had. When we first meet Adam, he is Juliette’s new roommate at the nut house. While we find out later that he has been in love with her since they were children and has made it his life’s mission to find her and keep her safe, he begins this relationship by stealing her bed and forcing her to sleep on the floor.
*Swoon* Somehow, we are supposed to believe that he feels this strongly about her without ever speaking or interacting with her prior to this. We are also supposed to believe that Juliette has felt the same way for just as long, but doesn’t recognize the love of her life when he enters her cell. She can also touch him without murdering him, How convenient! which leads to a very weird shower scene where they profess their love for one another. To be completely honest, I never felt like they actually loved each other, it was more like two teenagers with raging hormones. Juliette was so completely dependent on Adam that she was almost helpless without him. #Feminism Women have made such strides in the literary and cinematic world, and yet we still find cowering, pathetic Juliettes hanging around in today’s society. Insert eye roll here.
Another person she can conveniently touch without murdering is Warner, the villain. Warner is a sociopathic, homicidal maniac with mommy issues who wants to manipulate and possess Juliette for his own intents and purposes.
*Swoon x2* He decides that the best way to get Juliette on his side is to have her beaten, force her to hurt others, casually terrorize her, and attempt to murder the person she loves. He is very confused when she doesn’t fall in love with him, because what could be more romantic than murder? Idk, probably flowers. Villains gotta vill, which is all well and good until Juliette pauses (on several occasions) to admire how handsome he is, how beautiful his eyes are, and how attractive his voice sounds. WTF?
Things get really fun when Juliette turns into the Hulk and starts smashing through walls.
Building murder! I have no idea why or how this happens, but I found it so random and amusing. I’m not sure if we’re going to get an explanation for this in a later book, or if it was just for the sake of convenience. Probably convenience.
At the end we join the X-Men. Juliette gets a spandex suit and is thoroughly admired/objectified by her male companions.
No capes though. Thank God for Edna Mode.
Some convenient moments: both the love interest and the villain are immune to Juliette’s deadly touch, both Juliette and Adam were immune to radiation allowing them to escape from Warner’s Army of Skanks, a car with keys in the ignition and bags full of groceries was left behind just when Juliette and Adam needed it the most, and Juliette’s hulk smash powers enable her to break down steel doors when she needs to.
A particularly fun moment
where I rolled my eyes so hard that they fell out of my head and now they’re rolling down the street: Juliette has been imprisoned for years, hasn’t seen the sunlight in ages, and has been provided with very minimal hygienic supplies and food. Yet, somehow, she looks like a supermodel and captures the attention of every male in the book. Not only this, but she hasn’t looked into a mirror for 3 years and doesn’t know what color her own eyes are. Girl. Seriously?
While this book definitely kept my attention though out, I probably won’t read the sequel.
I’ll read the sequel if I get a free copy.