Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Page Number: 352
Tentative Price: $17.99

Juliette has always been hated for what she is. Her touch is pain to anybody she comes in contact with, hurting them while she absorbs energy that she pretends doesn't feel good. If she holds on long enough, it kills them. After an accidental murder, she is taken and placed into an isolation room where she rarely, if ever, sees other people. She hasn't been touched in 264 days, hasn't spoken in as long. Her days are a routine of staring out a window, bathing when told, and hoping that maybe, just maybe, she'll get fed.

Then he comes and everything changes. A boy is thrown into her cell, a boy that she doesn't recognize--until she does. Suddenly everything in her simple, routine life is changing as she's taken by a leader in her dystopian world's army. He wants to use her, her gift and her curse, as a weapon on his side. But Juliette doesn't want to hurt anyone, and she might be willing to do anything to escape that fate, including trust the man that, once upon a time, she loved more than anything.

Before I picked up Shatter Me, I knew absolutely nothing about it, besides the fact that the line to get it at BEA was huge. There is no cover design on my ARC to give away a story, and I've never heard of the author. However, from the moment I read the back cover, I've was hooked.

Superpowers and dystopia are two of my dirty little loves, something you'll probably figure out quick if you're reading my reviews, and I couldn't wait to read Shatter Me and get them both. And while I thouroughly enjoyed this novel, something seemed strangely familiar about this story from the start. The publisher's note in the beginning of the book mentions a comparison between Juliette and Rouge, which may have set my mindset before I opened the book, but the entire time I was reading I just couldn't help wondering if I was reading an alternate universe x-men fanfiction.

Don't get me wrong, the story was great. Juliette's world seems to be vaguely postapocolyptic, with a mass organization that seems deadset on stamping out everything that makes humanity great, from art to the very language spoken, in the name of reseting and starting over. The world is gritty and real, with the sense of overall poverty and need being very evident. For instance, when Juliette is brought to a headquarters of The Reestablishment, she is shocked by the utter waste used to provide the luxury of the building. Interestingly enough, there are also hints that the world inside the pages isn't a world that seems so far off from the world of today, despite the changes. Juliette, for instance, knows what a microwave is and knows not to put metal in it, although the child she sees doing so doesn't seem to know what a microwave is at all.

The characters were decent, too. Juliette is a girl with massive powers who just wants to be left alone, Walter is a boy who just wants power, and Adam is a boy who just wants his family and loved ones safe. Side characters, though, are almost nonexistant; the majority of nonmain characters were nothing more than cardboard cutouts meant to be thrown into a setting to give it the right feel.

Although romance is a decent part of the storyline, I was pleased to note that it didn't detract from what I felt was the real story, such as Fracture did, but rather enhanced it.

Shatter Me was a pretty good book, and I'd recommend it to lovers of X-Men for sure, and for anybody who likes the superpower genre in general. Dystopian fans might enjoy this novel as well, although I wouldn't push it quite as hard in that direction. I will personally be keeping a hopeful heads up for a sequel sometime in the near future, because I'd hate to think that the story was actually meant to just end where it did, and I'd really like to find out what happens to all the loose ends.


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