Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins (2012)
No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever.
This is one kick-ass book and I still have no idea why the hell it took me all this long to read it!
Most of the times, and primarily as a reader, I don’t agree with the marketing/editorial decision of changing the cover of a book—especially if it happens mid-series—, being that due to lack of sales or simply for some aesthetic reason, but I must admit that this change, in particular, was for the best. Yes, the first cover of Shatter Me is beautiful—if I’m not mistaken it actually sort of sparkles—however, this second option has a much more hypnotic, visually appealing look to it. The eye with the flying bird (talk about details!), the metallic mixture of colours, and the overall design are drop-dead-gorgeous and even though I don’t like confessing that I often purchase books because of their cover, I must recognise that I did buy Shatter Me precisely for that reason. Still, the most incredible and pleasing feature of this book is the fact that the inside matches perfectly with the outside.
I have to say that I didn’t know exactly what to expect from this reading as I usually don’t read many reviews prior to acquiring a book, but I did research a little bit about Shatter Me and the one thing I ended up understanding was that you either love it or hate it—there’s no middle ground with this one, no shades of grey. I believe that’s a pretty common trait in YA Dystopias as it is not a genre for every reader but what tends to happen with me is that all those little details people state as being the reasons why they disliked the book are the elements I end up liking the most. And, again, it happened.
Tahereh Mafi’s writing style is absolutely breathtaking and so, so deep. During my reading I constantly felt like I was inside Juliette’s head, like I was Juliette. I could sense her fears, feel her tension and her desires as my own, and it’s utterly amazing how she grows so much and adjusts herself to her surroundings, to what seems to be her present and her future, in her private self—which means, in Mafi’s writing. This is a sort of stream of consciousness approach to the story that allows the reader to genuinely connect with the main character, with lots of strikethrough sentences in the beginning and repetitions throughout the narrative—to me those elements were of great beauty. I finished Shatter Me feeling like I knew Juliette as a human being and as a ‘supernatural creature’, and that’s all I can ask from a first book in a series—that sense of acknowledgement towards the characters, towards their next actions, that will keep me eagerly waiting for the next instalment in the series/trilogy.
Juliette is a remarkable figure but she is not alone, names like Warner, Adam and Kenji equally stand out. Warner has a sense of evilness that is purely delicious. I’ve been craving for a twisted character like this one for such a long time! It seems like, lately, all the bad guys from YA aren’t wicked enough so whenever I compare the ones I know with Warner they look like children—that’s how malicious and cruel he (Warner) is, and I love it (plus, it's always interesting to witness his interactions with Juliette). As for Adam, he has a really cool sense of tenderness. He is a sweet, protective type of male character that easily appeals to readers, and he is a great match for Juliette. Yet, there’s something off about him and I can only hope he brightens up a little bit in the next book. Kenji, on the other hand, is a box full of surprises. He often represents the comic, funny side of this story, as his laid-back attitude occasionally softens the intensity of the plot.
Regarding the story, I feel like I can’t say much without getting into spoilers. This is a fast-paced book, with lots of action, lots of surprises and passionate, severe moments. The only thing I did not totally like was the ending and the direction that the author decided to take. It was great while Juliette was the ‘only one’, but as soon as you come across the enormity of what’s really going on and of what’s out there, the novelty of this book sort of gets lost a little bit. Still, I’m immensely curious with the following book, Unravel Me, which I hope to read soon. Despite the ending, I’m almost certain of this debut's presence on my top 2014 readings—yep, it’s that good.