Review No. 43 – Shatter Me

Shatter Me – Tahereh Mafi

Allen&Unwin, 2011

The one thing Juliette wants – more than escape from the asylum where she has been imprisoned for so long, more than food she can recognise or the sight of a bird that can fly in this dead drab world – more than anything else, she just wants to be touched. But that is something she can never have. Because when Juliette touches someone, terrible things happen. All her life, she has been told that this makes her evil, a monster, but then she steps foot outside the asylum for the first time in almost a year and she sees that there are real monsters waiting for her in the new order of the Reestablishment. The question is, will she join them, or for the first time in her life, will she fight back?

There are some interesting concepts in Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi’s first novel and the beginning of the Shatter Me series. Written in first person, it takes the narration to a very personal level by running words together to indicate Juliette’s confusion and even implies what thoughts she considers forbidden by crossing them out, as though you’re reading her journal. That’s a little puzzling because, though she does keep a journal, this isn’t it. I found her an interesting protagonist, although I would have liked her to show a harder edge at times. The other main characters weren’t quite so convincing or as likeable, though, and I didn’t really buy the world of the Reestablishment either – it felt too generically dystopian, and too quick a downhill slide from corner shops and school lunches to military wasteland and environmental havoc. Perhaps more satisfying explanations will be offered in book two, Unravel Me. It is due for release in February next year.

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