Author: Tahereh Mafi. Release date: 2011. Publisher: HarperCollins. ISBN: 9780062085484.
Personal thoughts: I am a very big fan of post-apocalyptic dystopian novels, so I was anxious to read Shatter Me, especially since I had heard so many great things about it. Although it wasn’t my all-time favorite novel, I did find it enjoyable and creative in many ways. It took me a few chapters to get used to Tahereh Mafi’s writing style, and before that happened I wasn’t sure if I could stomach the constant strikethroughs. After awhile, however, I found that it added to the story and in the development of Juliette’s character in a really unique way. I also wasn’t too sure about the dramatic shift in the story from Girl, Interrupted to X-Men, but am curious to see what the author does in the sequel. I would definitely recommend this as a Hunger Games read-alike.
Plot summary: Juliette Ferrars is a monster. Her touch is lethal, her parents abandoned her and society locked her up for a crime she did not mean to commit. She has been in the asylum for three years, trapped day after day in a tiny cell. Her only consolation is in a pen, small notebook and words she uses to cope. She knows she’s not insane, but begins to wonder as the seconds, minutes, days, months and years tick by. Her quiet torment is broken suddenly one day when she is told she has been given a roommate. A boy her age is thrust into her cell, and, for the first time in three years, Juliette has someone to talk to. Juliette soon discovers that her new roommate isn’t just anyone, he’s Adam: the boy she’s known since she was 8-years-old, the only one who didn’t look at her with hate and distrust. Adam doesn’t seem to remember Juliette, and only seems intent on discovering why he has been placed in her cell. The truth behind their connection is soon revealed, however, beginning a chain of events that will change their lives forever.
Review: Part psychological thriller, part action-adventure, this debut novel from author Tahereh Mafi begins an already successful new dystopian series that is certain to appeal to a variety of teen readers. Set in a post-apocalyptic and not-too-distant future, Juliette Ferrars’ world is broken, just like her. The author uses Juliette’s writing in her notebook as a literary element that permeates the novel. Strikethroughs appear on almost every page, allowing the reader to see Juliette’s thought process. Although it takes some getting used to, Mafi’s strikethrough technique adds greatly to the psychological aspects of the plot, showing Juliette’s inner turmoil as she struggles to deal with her abandonment, imprisonment, and deadly abilities. Towards the middle of the novel, the story takes a dramatic shift from Juliette’s troubled mind to the outside world, complete with action, adventure and romance. This change makes for a read that is very different from beginning to end, but also leaves the story open for sequels, the first of which is set to be released sometime in 2012. Overall, Shatter Me is a creatively written and interesting start to a new series that many readers, especially fans of The Hunger Games or Divergent, will enjoy.
Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, Legend by Marie Lu.
Themes: Sanity/insanity, imprisonment, dystopian, trust, abandonment, supernatural abilities, murder.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.
Series Information: First installment in Shatter Me series. Second novel (not yet titled) set to be released in 2012.
- Did you like or dislike the author’s use of the strikethrough in the novel? Why?
- Do you think Juliette is insane? Why or why not?
- Why do you think Warner is so obsessed with Juliette?
- What would you like to see happen in the next installment of this series?