Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi {plus Book Club Discussion/Questions}

Every other month, a group of my friends and I get together for a young adult book club.  Someone in the group hosts and we all discuss the most recent book we read, eat treats and laugh a lot.

This month, we read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

My summary and review (4 stars):
(*contains spoilers*)
When I first started reading this book, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.  (I wanted to like it because I want to go into most books with the hope that I will like them and they will be worth my time.)  If I hadn’t read the synopsis, I would have had a hard time figuring out what was going on since the story starts after a lot has already happened.  Juliette seems like a likeable enough person, but you can tell that being isolated for so long is taking a toll on her.  She’s trying to keep herself from going crazy but bits of it creep in, which I think is to be expected.

When Adam shows up in her cell, I was worried that the book was going to turn into this romance where because he’s nice to her that she falls in love with him.  Turns out she already knew him from her time before The Reestablishment came and she was already in love with him but she thinks that he doesn’t remember her.  As time passes, they become friends (again) and she begins to trust him.  I think it’s reasonable to believe that a person who isn’t able to touch anyone else (because their touch is deadly) would both fear and desire trust and acceptance from others.

After a time, Juliette is taken up to meet Warner (the other guy in the love triangle), transferred to a type of military headquarters and given nice food, running water, clean clothes and a bed.  Juliette is visibly shaken by this after being kept in such an awful place for 2/3 of a year and knowing that so many other people in the world are living in poverty.  I think the author did a good job of showing Juliette’s raw emotion.  Juliette reacted the way you would expect: with anger and a desire to rebel.  We see this anger and hatred, especially towards Warner and The Reestablishment, and it is what drives her until she discovers that Adam can touch her without getting hurt.  Then of course her libido kicks in and Juliette uses her love, or what she understands love to be, as her motivation to keep going.

When Juliette and Adam escape to his “house” and stay with Adam’s little brother, the libido kicks in again and I was ready to skip through a few paragraphs because I get tired of these type of scenes.  Thankfully, nothing really happens and the next day Kenji (Adam’s friend in the army) shows up injured and convinces Adam and Juliette that he knows of a safe house he can take them too.  The place he takes them to is Omega Point and is the headquarters for the resistance, which we find out that Kenji is a part of and also has a special power.  Juliette meets Castle, who is the leader of the rebellion, and helps her feel at ease and more comfortable in her abilities and less afraid of hurting anyone by giving her a special super suit.  And then the book ends.

I hated the ending.  It was too abrupt.  At the same time, it did make me want to pick up the next book and start reading so I guess that’s saying something.  I had a few things about the book that I didn’t like:

  • Juliette would use these metaphors that sometimes made sense and sometimes made no sense at all (this is a recurring theme throughout the book).  I think that by doing this, the author maybe just meant to further show her fragile mental state but it was frustrating as a reader because when I read/hear a metaphor, I want it to make sense.  I don’t want to wade through a lot of words to find the meaning.
  • I had a hard time picturing the world the characters lived in.  Was it completely desolate with buildings few and far between?  Was it cities that had been mostly destroyed but people were still living there?  What was the landscape like?
  • From the time Adam and Juliette escape from Warner, it’s less than a week and Juliette goes from being insecure and afraid of her powers to confident and ready to become a part of the rebellion.  You can tell that she’s trying to be strong and have courage but this seemed like a big jump for me.

Even though there were things about the book I disliked, overall, I enjoyed the book.  If you like dystopian/paranormal books, then this is for you.  It has kind of an X-Men feel to it.  (I haven’t read any of the other books in the series as of yet, but I understand from others that they answer a lot of questions that that first book brings up.)

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi {plus Book Club Discussion/Questions}

Book Club Discussion Questions:

  • Do you think the author’s background may have influenced how her characters interact in the book? (Tahereh is Iranian-American–her parents are immigrants.)
  • There was a lot of backlash from the Muslim community when this book came out.  Why do you think that is?
  • How did you like the author’s/Juliette’s writing style?
  • What does the writing style show about the mental stability/progression of the Juliette?
  • Do you think Juliette’s reaction to not being touched her whole life is normal?
  • Do you see any similarities between their world and ours in terms of how we react to people who are different?  Cultural?  Political?
  • Do you think there is an inherent part of us that makes us want to touch other people?
  • How did you feel about the use of metaphor throughout the book? 
  • Discuss the symbolism of birds.

What did you think about the book?

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