Mafi, Tahereh. Shatter Me. 342 p. HarperCollins. 2011. Hardcover $17.99. ISBN 9780062085481.
In the wake of The Hunger Games, there are a lot of novels about dystopian societies popping up these days-- but with its inventive premise, heart-pounding romance, and strong writing, Shatter Me stands out from the crowd.
Juliette is incarcerated for a crime she didn’t mean to commit. She has the power to kill a person just by touching them... a power she doesn’t want. Society is in shambles, the environment has gone haywire, and a new regime called The Reestablishment is in power. And they seek to use Juliette as a weapon.
Mafi’s use of language is striking and unique, crafting vivid imagery and believable emotions. Run-on sentences and strike-through formatting in the text deftly establish Juliette’s fragile mental state at the beginning of the story, and the writing gracefully shifts to a more even-keeled style as the character gains stability and confidence, occasionally reverting to run-ons to highlight moments of intense emotion with great effect.
The plot moves at a brisk pace, and the first-person, present-tense narration adds a sense of urgency. The full truth of Juliette’s lethal mistake unfolds bit by bit, and the big reveal is horrifying-- definitely a “wow” moment. Mafi pulls no punches, that’s for sure.
Readers will root for Juliette, a sympathetic main character who really deserves something good for once in her life. Fans of the dystopian genre will eat this book up, and the romance element of the story may attract readers who think they don’t like science fiction. I can’t wait to recommend it to teens at my library.
Shatter Me hits bookstore shelves today. ARC for review was picked up at BEA by my library director and graciously shared. Also, we have an interview coming up with Tahereh Mafi for the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast, so stay tuned!