by Tahereh Mafi
Published November 15th 2011 by Harper/HarperCollins
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.
Let me just start off by saying that this book is undoubtedly well written! Well written to the point that it's practically a form of art in text form!
But at the same time... the book kind of didn't meet my expectations. This book is incredibly hard for me to review because I have such conflicted feelings about this book! Don't get me wrong, I really did enjoy it. A lot, in fact. It's just that some aspects of this book just kind of got on my nerves.
Let's start with the GOOD:
- The language! Good God, the language! Why oh why can't I be all artsy and think in the beautiful way that Tahereh Mafi did in this book?! There's something just so beautiful in the metaphors she uses that has a certain je ne sais quoi, but believe me, this writing will blow your mind.
- the brilliant idea to take away something so necessary in human life, the ability to touch, and write a book about it
- The Boys. OK WAIT. I promise this is not because I am book-boy-obsessed. At least, not completely... The three main boys that I really like in this book are Adam, Kenji, and Warner. The three of them are so different that you can't really compare them together because Mafi did such a great job making them so unique! Adam is the...God, I want to say "generic" hero, but I feel like that sounds bad! Simply put, he is the ideal/classic "hero" and while some people may find that clichéd, but hey, I like his romantic side! Then there's Kenji....oh Kenji, I absolutely loved his character! He is practically the opposite of Adam, but I loved him anyway. He is funny as heck, and there's definitely more than meets the eye about him. Then, there's Warner. The bad guy. Yes, he is the villain, but... it's just so darn hard to hate him! There's something vulnerable about him and I think that you can tell that he's had a harsh upbringing that's made him who he is. Plus the whole villain thing just kind of makes him cooler. AND he's a complex character, and I love those!
- Juliette. Oh God, that sounds really bad doesn't it? The fact that I don't really like the main character? But really, it's not that I don't like her, it's just that sometimes, she has these moments that annoys the heck out of me! I completely understand that she's had a super harsh life that's emotionally injured her---and believe me, I LOVED the kindness and goodness she still retained despite all that--and I get why she she starts the novel as a weak girl... but I personally didn't really feel like she ever really overcame that and emerged a stronger person. The entire book, she's either blushing or crying or feeling weak in the knees or trembling.... and it all just got to be too much you know? Like, enough is enough! Toughen up girl! Another thing about her that really just rubbed me the wrong way was how hypocritical she could be at times. Throughout the book, she would emphasize over and over again how she DOES NOT want to hurt anyone, but at the same time, every time she sees Warner, she's fantasizing about punching his face or breaking his bones! I mean, what the heck!?
- Aside from the above, the other things that I didn't really like were just technicalities: The concept of the book, the fact that Juliette can't touch anyone, I at first thought was absolutely brilliant! Then... I started to notice the X-men-esque influence... which made the whole idea... just not that fresh anymore. Shatter Me and X-men are by no means the same, but I just couldn't help noticing the similarities. Aside from that, while I previously stated that I LOVED the language of this book, I would like to say that there were just way too many metaphors. Literally, there's probably at least one metaphor on every. Single. Page. This stylistic tendency definitely helped the overall artistic angle of the book and many of them will blow your mind with their beauty, but goodness gracious, there's just a little overkill here...
Oh gosh, it probably sounds like I hate this book, BUT I REALLY DON'T. Honestly, I would definitely recommend this book to all my friends because the way it's written is just so original and breathtakingly beautiful! Will I be reading the sequel. YES. (But please, just please let Juliet get a little tougher!)
Some examples of beautiful writing...
“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.”
“The world is flat.
I know because I was tossed right off the edge and I've been trying to hold on for seventeen years. I've been trying to climb back up for seventeen years but it's nearly impossible to beat gravity when no one is willing to give you a hand. ”
“I always wonder about raindrops.
I wonder how they're always falling down, tripping over their feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble 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.”
“You can't touch me," I whisper. I'm lying, is what I don't tell him. He can touch me, is what I'll never tell him. Please touch me, is what I want to tell him.”
“Killing time isn't as difficult as it sounds.
I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand. I can rip the numbers off a clock and watch the hour hands tick tick tick their final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I've been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind.”