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“Hope in this world bleeds out the barrel of a gun,” Juliette. –Shatter Me
Shatter Me #1
by Tahereh Mafi
Juliette has always been an outcast. She doesn’t understand why she is different; she just knows her touch is fatal. After being locked in solitary confinement for 264 days, Juliette is shocked when she gets a new cellmate—a boy. Adam wants to be Juliette’s friend, but she doesn’t know if she can trust him. Then, the Reestablishment takes both her and Adam to a new facility.
The Reestablishment has plans for Juliette. Plans to use her as a weapon. Juliette doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Even though Juliette is still a prisoner, she is discovering the strength to fight back. She wants to have a future. With Adam by her side, Juliette plans her escape. When the time is right, will Juliette be able to escape the Reestablishment? Will Adam lead her to a better life, or does he have plans to betray her?
old from Juliette’s point of view, the story focuses on her thoughts and feelings. However, her thought process is often hard to understand as her thoughts are often described using figurative language. There is also no clear transition between her thoughts and what is actually happening in the story, meaning readers may have to go back and reread some scenes to make sure they understand the text.
The story has an interesting premise, but readers will have a difficult time suspending their disbelief. The story never explains why Juliette’s touch is lethal. Since Juliette’s touch is only lethal when her skin touches someone else’s skin, it is hard to imagine that no one has given Juliette a pair of gloves. Instead of helping Juliet protect others, her parents moved around after each disaster. When Juliette accidentally causes the death of a little boy, she is sent to prison and placed in an isolation cell. Once she is placed in the care of the Reestablishment, her main captor always wears gloves to protect himself. If her captor came up with the simple solution of gloves, why didn’t anyone else?
Juliette soon discovers that both Adam and her captor are immune to her touch. Since Juliette revels in the ability to simply touch another person, Juliette and Adam share steamy kisses between the high-action scenes. Although the plot is hard to believe, fans of dystopian stories will enjoy the unique characters as well as the battle of good versus evil. Full of suspense and surprises, Shatter Me is an action-packed story with plenty of steamy scenes. Readers will want to jump into the next book, Ignite Me, to see if Juliette finds freedom or just a different type of prison.
- When Adam holds Juliette, she thinks, “I wish I knew the taste of his lips.”
- While Adam and Juliette are alone, he grabs her and puts her against the wall. Juliette is “trembling everywhere and he’s so gentle, so careful, touching me like I’m made of porcelain and I want to shatter. He’s running his hands down my body running his eyes across my face running laps with his heart and I’m running marathons with my mind. Everything is on fire. . . suddenly his lips are on my neck and I’m gasping and dying and clutching at his arms and he’s touching me touching me touching me and I’m thunder and lightning. . . ” The scene is described over two pages.
- Adam tells Juliette that he loves her. Then, “his nose is touching my nose, his lips one breath away, his eyes devouring me already and I’m a puddle with no arms and no legs. . . His hands at my waist, gripping my hips, his legs flush against my own, his chest overpowering me with strength, his frame built by bricks of desire. . . He’s everywhere up my back and over my arms and suddenly he’s kissing me harder, deeper, with a fervent urgency that I’ve never known before.”
- As Adam and Juliette kiss, she slips “my hands under his shirt and he chokes on a moan that turns into a kiss that needs me and wants me and has to have me so desperately it’s like the most acute form of torture. His weight is pressed into mine, on top of mine, infinite points of feeling . . . his lips are falling down my shirt and I don’t understand why I need to wear clothes anymore. . .” Their embrace is interrupted.
- When Adam kisses Juliette, she gasps “and he’s kissing me, deep and powerful and unrestrained. His arms around my back, dipping my body until I’m practically horizontal. . .”
- After Adam and Juliette escape, they get to a safe place and Juliette asks Adam to touch her. Then, “my face is in his hands and my lips are at his lips and he’s kissing me. . . His body is almost on top of mine, one hand in my hair, the other feeling its way down my silhouette, slipping behind my knee to pull me closer, higher, tighter. . . He takes my hands and press them against his chest, guiding my fingers as they trail down the length of his torso before his lips meet mine again and again. . . His hands slip under my shirt, skirting my sides, touching me like he’s never dared to before, and my top is nearly over my head when a door squeaks open. We both freeze.” The scene is described over two pages.
- One of Adam’s friends tries to get him to move to a safer location. When Adam doesn’t hurry, the man shouts, “I mean, shit, man, I don’t think there’s ever a bad time to get naked, but now is probably not the best time for a nooner. So unless you want to get killed, I suggest you get your ass out here.”
- When soldiers capture Juliette, a man grabs her, and “his lips touch my skin and I actually whimper.” The man tells her, “God I’d love to just take a bite out of you.” Juliette pretends she likes the man’s touch so she can get his gun. The man’s “hands are exploring my body, slipping down my back to feel the form of my figure and it’s all I can do to keep from doing something reckless. . . And he kisses me. Hungrily. Desperately. Eager to break me open and taste me. . . I pull him closer, grab a fistful of his jacket and kiss him as hard as I can, my fingers already attempting to release the first of his buttons. Warner grips my hips and allows his hands to conquer my body.” When Juliette has the opportunity, she shoots him. The scene is described over three pages.
- When Adam is beaten, Juliette tells him to get better because “I’m going to memorize every inch of your body with my lips.”
- When Adam heals from his injuries, he wants to be alone with Juliette. When everyone leaves, Adam leans “in and I’m leaning in until I’m practically on top of him and he’s slipping me into his arms and kissing me with a new kind of desperation . . . His hands are threaded in my hair, his lips so soft and urgent against mine. . .” Adam “kisses my bottom lip. Bites it for just a second.” The scene is described over a page.
- Juliette thinks back to when the Reestablishment was taking over the country. She remembers “the bad memories. . . Protests. Rallies. Screams for survival. I see women and children starving to death, homes destroyed and buried in rubble, the countryside a burnt landscape, its only fruit the rotting flesh of casualties. I see dead dead dead red and burgundy and maroon and the richest shade of your mother’s favorite lipstick all smeared into the earth.”
- While in her cell room, guards come in and begin shouting. While Juliette stands there doing nothing, a guard “slams the butt of his gun into my back and my knees crack as they hit the floor. I finally taste oxygen and a side of blood. . . A steel-toed boot kicks me in the ribs, fast, hard, hollow.” The guards shove a gun into Juliette’s cellmate’s face. The guards make the two walk to a new destination. During the trip, Juliette thinks, “I don’t know how long I’ve been walking before another blow to my back cripples me.” When Juliette falls down, “there’s another heavy boot pressed into my back and I can’t lift my head to distinguish who’s speaking to me.”
- A soldier is accused of “fraternizing with civilians believed to be rebel party members. He has stolen food and supplies from storage units. . .” When the soldier doesn’t deny the accusations, a man “takes a short breath. Licks his lips. And shoots him in the forehead.” The man’s “limbs are bent at odd angles on the cold, concrete floor. Blood is pooling around him and still no one moves.”
- When Adam was younger, his drunk father took him to school. Juliette watched “a father slap his 8-year-old son in the face. I watched Adam fall to the floor and I stood there motionless as he was kicked repeatedly in the ribs.” While hitting him, Adam’s father screamed, “It’s your fault, you worthless piece of shit.”
- In order to understand Juliette’s power, a man puts a toddler in a room that has spikes that come through the floor. In order to save the boy, Juliette is forced to touch him. When she does, “his screams pierce through me like I’m being shot to death, one bullet for every second. He’s clawing at my arms, my chest, kicking my body as hard as he can, crying out in agony until the pain paralyzes him.” After the test, Juliette gets angry. “I catapult through the concrete walls. I crush the glass with 10 fingers.” The test is described over four pages.
- In order to escape, Adam slams “the butt of his gun into Warner’s head. Warner’s gun misfires and Adam catches his arm and twists his wrist until his grip on the weapon wavers. I grab the gun from Warner’s limp hand and slam the butt of it into his face. . .” During the fight, “Adam slams his knee into Warner’s spine. Warner falls to the floor with a muffled crack and a sharp intake of breath.” After Warner is tied up, Juliette and Adam are able to escape.
- A man tells Adam, “No one should have to wake up in the morning and find dead bodies in their living room, but shit happens. We deal with it, and we find a way to survive.” As the man continues to talk, Adam gets angry and presses “a gun to his forehead.”
- As Adam, Juliette, and others flee from the Reestablishment, “there are children everywhere, bright colors of small bodies suddenly screaming at our approaches. . . Adam pushes me to the ground just as a bullet flies past my head. He shoots down another door toward another exit, and we run through the ruins towards another exit, trapped in the maze of what used to be a clothing store. Gunshots and footsteps are close behind. . . Adam is breathing hard. He grips the gun in his hand. Pops his head out for a split second and fires. Someone falls to the floor, screaming.” Several people are killed and Adam is captured.
- Juliette follows a trail of blood and finds Adam, who is “hanging from bound wrists, shirtless, bloodied, and bruised everywhere. His head is bent, his neck limp, his left leg drenched in blood despite the tourniquet wrapped around his thigh. . . His wrists are rubbed raw, bleeding, his body pounded into one piece of pain, his leg bloodied through with a bullet.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- In the past, Adam’s father drove drunk.
- A man gives Adam’s ten-year-old brother a sleeping pill. The man doesn’t want the boy to see Adam being chased by the Reestablishment.
- When Juliette escapes, someone gives her a sedative to help her get over her shock. Later, Adam is also given a sedative to help him recover.
- Profanity is used often. Towards the end of the book, the profanity ramps up and appears on almost every page. Profanity includes ass, asshole, bullshit, bastards, crap, damn, goddamn, hell, holy shit, and shit.
- “Oh God,” “God,” and, “Jesus” are used as exclamations often.
- After Adam treats Juliette badly, he says, “I’m sorry I’m such an asshole.” He also tells her, “I was a jerk yesterday. I treated you like crap and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”
- Someone calls Adam a “sick bastard.”
- When a man sees Adam and Juliette kissing, he says, “Son of a motherless goat—“
- One of Adam’s friends refers to Juliette as a “psycho chick.”
- A man slept in a shed; he described that it “was weird. Crazy shit growing in the place. I almost ate something I thought was fruit before I realized it smelled like ass.”
- When Juliet touches someone, she drains the life out of them.9 When a guard touches her, “I can hear his anguish, I can feel the power pouring out of his body, I can hear his heart beating in my ears and my head is spinning with the rush of adrenaline fortifying my being. . . My skin is pulsing with someone else’s life and I don’t hate it.” Juliette breaks the connection before the guard is seriously injured.
- In the past, Juliette tried to help a little boy, but she “killed a little boy in a grocery store simply by helping him to his feet.”
- Somehow Juliette was able to punch through a steel door. Her “fist flies through 12 inches of steel like it’s made of butter.”
- Juliette goes to a compound where she meets a man who can move things with his mind. There is also a man who tells her, “Sometimes I electrocute people by accident” and another who is really flexible. He “loops one arm around his waist. Twice.”
- At the compound, two women are healers—one heals the physical body and the other heals emotional wounds. Yet another person can “blend into the background of any space. Shift myself to match my surroundings.”
- When in a difficult situation, Juliette “prays to God I’m making the right decision.”