Shatter Me is the first novel in the trilogy written by Tahereh Mafi, published in November 2011.
From the get-go, this book captured my attention. In addition to the unique and beautiful cover, the first few opening lines are enough to capture anybody’s attention.
“I’ve been locked up for 264 days.”
Like most young adult novels, first person point of view is a must. In this particular novel, a first person point of view works perfectly because the reader is only aware of information known to the main character.
While this may be frustrating to the reader, it is incredibly important for the novel to be set up this way. It keeps the suspense alive, which is a necessary element in a dystopian book such as Shatter Me.
The book follows the life of 17-year-old Juliette Ferrars, a girl who can kill someone from skin-to-skin contact. In the opening scene, Juliette is locked up in an asylum where the reader soon learns that she killed a young boy three years prior. Although readers resent Juliette for murdering the boy, they also feel sympathetic.
Then in walks in Adam Kent.
Adam Kent is dream boy No. 1. Adam comes into the asylum and ends up being Juliette’s cellmate, secretly monitoring the girl as she lives out her days in isolation.
It turns out Adam is more than meets the eye. After the truth about him is revealed to the reader, things get a lot more complicated.
The reader meets the leader of the Reestablishment, Warner, and learns what a lovable villain he is. Warner is someone Juliette is against, but he is as lovable as Loki in the Avengers. You want to hate him, but something makes it impossible.
One of the novel’s biggest strengths is how well-rounded each character is. Mafi’s character development is absolutely breathtaking. There is an explanation for every character’s actions and thoughts.
Another positive point for Mafi is the way she constructs her dialogue. All of the characters and their interactions sound so natural, making the picture much more vivid for the reader.
On the opposite end, one of the things I did not like about the novel was the style of certain sentences. Mafi often repeats a phrase three times without including a comma or any other type of grammatical distinction.
Being a grammar Nazi, these sentences consistently irritated me. On the other hand, the fantastically written characters were enough for me to get over this irritation.
As far as themes go, I did not see many pressing ones. There is the ever-cliché “follow your own heart” or “create your own destiny,” but there was no theme with a wow factor.
Overall, the novel is extremely well-written, and I absolutely adored how strong of a character Juliette became by the end. The two sequels are definitely on my to-read list. If you like science fiction, this book is for you.