Juliette is seventeen years old hasn’t spoken to or touched anyone in 264 days. Whenever she touches someone, they suffer and eventually die if she holds on long enough. She was imprisoned for murder by the Re-establishment, an organization who is dedicated to rebuilding the polluted, barren Earth on the surface. Food and animals are scarce, the sky is incredibly polluted, and diseases run rampant. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is so harmful, but she is small compared to the larger problems of the world. Everything changes when after months and months of isolation, a boy is put into her cell with her. She has no idea what her jailers’ angle is, but she is determined to keep to herself and keep him safe. He isn’t what he appears to be and she has to choose whether she will be a weapon for someone else to wield or a self sufficient warrior.
Shatter Me is a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I was engaged by the interesting writing style and the main character, Juliette. The narrative is written in a kind of stream of consciousness style, giving the work the feeling of reading her journal or her innermost thoughts. It’s punctuated with occasional strike outs that reveal Juliette’s true feelings, usually followed by what she thinks she should feel. At the beginning of the story, she is practically catatonic, having been isolated for the better part of a year in an insane asylum. The strike outs provide glimpses into Juliette’s character that she doesn’t reveal outwardly. They lessen as the story goes along and as Juliette becomes stronger and more expressive. Juliette is the most compelling character by far and undergoes the most development. Underneath all the abuse she has experienced, she’s very strong and her sensitivity is sometimes mistaken for weakness. I thought her power was interesting, even though it was reminiscent of both Jenny Pox and Rogue from X-Men.
On the other hand, Shatter Me had a lot of flaws. The dystopic world isn’t fully developed and felt a little hollow for me. There are no real, detailed reasons for practically anything and no questions are answered. The story is closer to a paranormal romance than a sci-fi dystopia. The romance is pretty melodramatic and over the top. I didn’t like Adam, the soldier boy love interest, because he was too macho and alpha male for me. Not appealing. Plus all of the characters besides Juliette were flat and I also thought it was awfully convenient that two of the characters vying for her love can touch her without dying. The ending was the aspect I hated most because, like most first installments of teen series, it ended in the middle of a scene without really resolving anything. I really don’t know why this keeps happening in teen books, but it’s really annoying and I would like to read a complete story. Of course some things should be left open for a second book, but to abruptly, awkwardly end is just unacceptable.
Although it has flaws, Shatter Me kept my attention and introduced some interesting concepts that I hope are continued in the next book. I would recommend it to paranormal romance lovers who also like X-Men and Jenny Pox.
My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins