September 30, 2013
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
by Tahereh Mafi
Juliette has never known the warmth of human touch. Even her parents feared her and kept their distance. They never offered any sympathy when other children through rocks at her or ignored her. Why would they? They are convinced that their lives would have been so much better if she had never been born.
Juliette grows up in a world that is falling apart. Weather is erratic. Animals have mutated horribly. There isn’t nearly enough to eat.
But the Reestablishment promises to change all of that. If people will simply obey their rules and live in grim concrete compounds, everything will be better. Or you’ll be dead. Because that is the Reestablishment’s go-to punishment. Imprisonment leading to execution.
When they come for her, Juliette knows why they are taking her away but she doesn’t understand why they put her in a mental asylum where she is separated from everyone for almost a year. Sure, the guards drop in every once in a while but that’s never a good thing. Fortunately, they too are afraid to touch her.
And then they give her a room mate. Juliette finds out a day ahead of time and she practices talking. What will she say to her when this mysterious new girl arrives?
But then Juliette sees him. That’s right. Her roommate is a boy. A rugged, handsome boy that she thinks she may remember. But that’s impossible. How could he be here? And what will he do when he finds out that her touch is deadly? By touching him with even one finger tip, Juliette could end his life. When she does eventually touch him, she finds out something amazing. Absolutely nothing happens.
I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of the post-apocalyptic fiction. I picked up this particular book after reading an interview with the author, Tahereh Mafi. Wow. I wish I had found her books sooner. Admittedly, one of the things that fascinated me is that Mafi is a practicing Muslim woman. She has written a book about a girl who must remain covered to keep those around her safe. All it takes is a layer of fabric or its absence to determine just how much danger is present.
Juliette is an amazing character. She lives in a world on the brink of war. Much of what she knows is based on lies and she has to come to grips with her gift. Will she allow herself to be used as the ultimate torture device or will she work with another group of people, many of whom have unique abilities of her own.
The beginning of this book is tough to read. Juliette doesn’t have anyone to talk to and she doesn’t speak much even when this fact changes. She is so frightened that it is painful to read her story, but just when I was wondering if I could take much more, the roommate appears and this is where the whole story changes.
This is a quick read and will prompt so many discussions on topics ranging from ecology to spin doctoring, from personal responsibility to truth, and so much more.