Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me #1

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

To start out, the underlying story is quite interesting, I'll give it that.

However, it couldn't be more bad YA even if it tried. Every. single. important. character is desribed as either beautiful or gorgeous etc. Instant burning passionate I-WANT-YOU-RAWR love happens immediately based on nothing but looks and looking at each other over a peroid of time with no talking. We know next to nothing about any of the characters and only know that Juliette, for girl who's been shunned all her life is exceptionally bright and knowledgeable in a Mary-Sue kind of way.

Another negative aspect for me is the very flowery poetry-like way in which it's written. It's not my style and while I can appreciate some of it, most of the time it's just way over the top.
Some spoilerfree examples of that:
(and this is just a tiny handful)
He leans back against the couch. Runs a free hand over his face. Seasons change. Stars explode. Someone is walking on the moon.
The room is heavy with the scent of wet stone, upturned soil; the ait is dank and earthy. I take a deep breath and tiptoe to the window only to press my nose against the cool surface. Feel my breath fog up the glass. Close my eyes to the sound of a soft pitter-patter rushing through the wind. Raindrops are my only reminder that clouds have a heartbeat. That I have one, too.
I catch the rose petals as they fall from my cheeks, as they float around the frame of my body, as they cover me in something that feels like the absence of courage.
I wish I could stuff my mouth full of raindrops and fill my pockets full of snow. I wish I could trace the veins in a fallen leaf and feel the wind pinch my nose.
I’m choking
I’m shaking shuddering splintering into teardrops
and he’s holding me the way no one has ever held me before.

Like he wants me.
Every organ in my body falls to the ground.
I try to fight it
I try to stay awake
I try to find my head but I can’t.

I collapse from sheer exhaustion.

When Mafi wasn't busy overly descriping the-sun-rotates-around-the-moon kind of passion (actual phrase. I don't even), she made main character Juliette gasp - constantly. That is, literally, her most often used response. Even to straight forward questions or answers. She gasps - I sigh.

There are some nice twists and turns (which I won't give away) and the bad guy does seem genuinely messed up (rather than just "evil" being his sole trait) - HOWEVER rather than let us figure some things out for ourselves, even the basic things are spelled out. And other elements, particularly some of the action/army scenes are just too simple, where I really got the feeling that the author had no idea other than seeing it in films and just emulated that. It seems that the book takes place sometime in our not to distant future, but it gives no answers as to what happened and to be honest it felt a little half-hearted. This is not a book about what happened; what happened is merely a backdrop for Juliette to be awesome in.

Seeing as they can both be labelled as dysopian, when I started reading this, I excepted something similar to my last read, Slated, however as the cover should have warned me, this is a very different kind of YA book. Where Kyla from Slated is more in the style of  Katniss from The Hunger Games, Juliette reminds me more of Elena from The Vampire Diaries. They do have similar endings though. Shatter Me is a book that's all about telling the initial story, introducing people, letting us know exactly how special Juliette is. The fight we won't see till the next book (or the next? who knows).

But as I started out saying the overall story is interesting and despite Mafi's efforts to dumb it down I liked the conspiracy feelings to it and I'll probably bite my tongue and read the next book, Unravel Me, to see what happens. I'm debating whether to give it 2 or 3 stars, but will land on 2, because it annoys me how ridiculous the YA genre has become when it comes to beauty and body image as well as love.

Shatter Me
Shatter Me #1
ISBN13: 9780062085481
338 pages / published in 2011
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2013


  1. I wasn't a big fan of this one either. I just felt like it lacked world building and was way too heavy in the unrealistic love department.


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