Title: “Shatter Me” Series
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Published by: HarperCollins
Genres: Dystopian, Thriller, Romance
In-Series/Stand Alone: In-Series
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
When I first saw “Shatter Me” on Goodreads as I was looking for books to read, I didn’t think much of it because of the tremendous amount of bad ratings the first book had. My friend persuaded me to give it a try anyway, saying that the series got better as the books went on. And so I did, and I will never regret that decision.
The first book starts off with Juliette, our main character, locked in an asylum for accidentally killing a young boy three years ago with her lethal touch. She comes off as mentally deranged, both from isolation and the self-loathing that eats away at her. She writes in a notebook to pass the time, recording her dreams and thoughts and occasionally crossing certain words and fragments out — things she doesn’t want to dwell on or discuss further. A boy by the name of Adam Kent soon joins her cell, and Juliette feels like she vaguely recognizes him, but can’t quite put her finger on it. She begins to open up to him, showing him the ways of the asylum and the daily routine she has become accustomed to. One day, the Reestablishment, the government that controls this world, frees Juliette. The leader, Warner, gives her an ultimatum: she can be released from the asylum if she commits to helping the Reestablishment torture its prisoners, or she can stay in captivity forever.
Throughout the novels, Juliette grows as a person — she begins to learn more about her power, how to control it, and how there are others like her out there.
I finished this series in about a week and a half — which I honestly think isn’t too bad. What makes this series so unforgettable is Mafi’s deception of Juliette’s (the main character) voice. It’s utterly captivating. Throughout the books, you see this broken girl who hates herself for who she is grow into a strong and confident woman. If you pick up this series with the mindset that there will be a lot of world-building, you should walk away right now — because there isn’t. The main focus is on the characters and their growth — there is a lot of character development, and romance that will have your head spinning and wanting more. There will be characters that will frustrate you, characters that will amuse you (*cough* Kenji, I’m looking right at you), and characters that you will fall deeply in love with. The metaphors and analogies used in this series are absolutely beautiful – Mafi truly does have a way with words. Her writing style is unique: it may not be for everyone, but I personally enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a quick series to read; one that will make you laugh and cry and beg for more, then Shatter Me is for you.
“I spent my life folded between the pages of books. In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.”
“The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”
“Words, I think, are such unpredictable creatures. No gun, no sword, no army or king will ever be more powerful than a sentence. Swords may cut and kill, but words will stab and stay, burying themselves in our bones to become corpses we carry into the future, all the time digging and failing to rip their skeletons from our flesh.”
“I want to be the friend you fall hopelessly in love with. The one you take into your arms and into your bed and into the private world you keep trapped in your head. I want to be that kind of friend. The one who will memorize the things you say as well as the shape of your lips when you say them. I want to know every curve, every freckle, every shiver of your body. I want to know where to touch you, I want to know how to touch you. I want to know convince you to design a smile just for me. Yes, I do want to be your friend. I want to be your best friend in the entire world.”
“Yeah, bro.” Kenji puts his utensils down. “You are moody. It’s always ‘Shut up, Kenji.’ ‘Go to sleep, Kenji.’ ‘No one wants to see you naked, Kenji.’ When I know for a fact that there are thousands of people who would love to see me naked—”
“And we are quotation marks, inverted and upside down, clinging to one another at the end of this life sentence. Trapped by lives we did not choose.”
“I always wonder about raindrops. I wonder about how they’re always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. It’s like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn’t seem to care where the contents fall, doesn’t seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the drops dare to tap on their doors.I am a raindrop.
My parents emptied their pockets of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab.“
“Words are like seeds, I think, planted into our hearts at a tender age. They take root in us as we grow, settling deep into our souls. The good words plant well. They flourish and find homes in our hearts. They build trunks around our spines, steadying us when we’re feeling most flimsy; planting our feet firmly when we’re feeling most unsure. But the bad words grow poorly. Our trunks infest and spoil until we are hollow and housing the interests of others and not our own. We are forced to eat the fruit those words have borne, held hostage by the branches growing arms around our necks, suffocating us to death, one word at a time.”
“For so many years I lived in constant terror of myself. Doubt had married my fear and moved into my mind, where it built castles and ruled kingdoms and reigned over me, bowing my will to its whispers until I was little more than an acquiescing peon, too terrified to disobey, too terrified to disagree. I had been shackled, a prisoner in my own mind. But finally, finally, I have learned to break free.”
*Note: Shatter Me has recently been optioned for a TV series — learn more here: Shatter Me TV
*Side note: Destroy Me and Fracture Me are actually novellas, but I’d really recommend reading them also, or you’ll miss out on a whole lot of background information and character development.
*DISCLAIMER* If you have not read this book yet, I’d really recommend not going through the comments section in case there’s a spoiler. You can always come back here later to discuss after you’ve read the book! (Or contact me if you want to talk about it beforehand)