Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi

No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but the Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time - and to find a fuure with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever. Juliette has to make a choice; be a weapon, or become a warrior (from Goodreads). 

Rating:

Juliette isn't the character suggested by this blurb, at least she isn't this person yet. When we are introduced to Juliette, she is slowly going mad locked in a prison cell. She hasn't spoken to anyone in 264 days, and has been a prisoner all that time. That would mess with anyone's head. The transition into strong woman she is destined to be all starts the moment she is given a cellmate; a boy named Adam, a boy she used to know. 

The book is kind of slow, I'll admit that right now. For a very long time, we don't really get anywhere. Mafi is obviously trying to establish Juliette as a character for us, get us to understand her world and her mindset, but to me it just felt wasteful. As did the copious amounts of crossed out lines in the book. For example, page 20 reads a little like this: "I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane. I am not insane." Sure, Juliette, sure; sane people write that. 

The world of Shatter Me is an interesting one, because at times it seems like everything still sort of functions, and then other times children are eating tinfoil for food. The world clearly went to hell, but it's not focused on too much. It is talked about a lot, but there's never really an explanation for what the fuck happened. Not one that stood out as making some sense of it all, not to me anyway.

The Reestablishment, the government-like body who now seem to rule the world, took over in the power vacuum of whatever shit went down. They made lots of wild promises and gave people hope, then once they had secured power revealed their true nature. Simple premise, a cliche in this sort of dystopian fiction, but it is one that's rather hard to steer clear of when writing, because it's something history has taught us can happen so easily. Not much about the Reestablishment is revealed, like their structure or the key players, so it's hard to truly see them as a truly engaging villain operation. President Snow, from the Hunger Games series was such an engaging villain because yes, he was badshit crazy, but he was cunning and intelligent. I feel that Shatter Me was missing that chilling character. 

I want to say, Mafi tried making that character in Warner, but if that was her aim it didn't happen. Warner is the nineteen-year old captain/leader of Sector 45, and they are part of the Reestablishment. He is a psychopath, somewhat of a masochist, and a murderer, but also rather adorable. That combination of conflicting traits seems to be a winning combination, as once again I have fallen for the character I would really like to think I'd know to stay away from in real life. It's Anakin Skywalker all over again. I did think Warner was such a complex character; sure he's got some serious issues, but he's intriguing to read. Warner is sassy, whereas Adam, the other main male character, was just quite bland. I didn't engage with Adam, as he just seemed so in love with the idea of Juliette, of the girl she was rather than the woman she is becoming. That sets off alarm bells for their budding romance in the next books. 

At times, Shatter Me reminded me of The Young Elites, and any of you who have read that particular review will know I was, shall we say, less than fond of that book. What is different about Shatter Me is there's actually potential to become something great, a lead character who can grow, and a fantastic male character in Warner. The Young Elites just made me hate everyone. 

I will be reading the other books in the series, because I have a feeling this is a world I will enjoy. This book was all about setting up the story, and I can make my peace with that. At least, at the moment I can. I'll let you know if that mindset has changed after reading the next books. I want to see Juliette grow into the warrior this book seemed to imply we would meet, and I want more Warner. 

P.S. I found this illustration on the blog of A Tree Grows in Bookland (http://sjbouquet.blogspot.co.uk), on their book review of Shatter Me. The illustration was about their reaction to the book whilst reading it, and I really couldn't agree more. So, all rights to the illustration below go to them. 

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