Overall Rating: 4/5
Quality of Prose: 4.5/5
Quality of Story: 4/5
Quality of Characters: 4.5/5
Ability to Make the Audience Think/Feel Differently: 2/5
How Long It Took Me to Finish: 2 days
A 1 Sentence Summary
Juliette has been stuck in an insane asylum because of her unique ability to hurt and even kill anyone her skin touches–whether she wants to or not–for 3 years, but everything changes when the Reestablishment, the governing body that took control when the world was destroyed by climate change, decides they want to use her abilities in the war.
My Favorite Quotes
“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.”
“Hope is hugging me, holding me in its arms, wiping away my tears and telling me that today and tomorrow and two days from now I will be just fine and I’m so delirious I actually dare to believe it.”
“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.”
What I Loved About It
From the very first word, sentence, paragraph, and page, I loved this book. Mafi’s writing is poetic, riddled with metaphors, and truly beautiful. You can see just a few of these beautiful metaphors in the quotes I included above, but the whole book is full of them, and man am I a sucker for novels that read more like poetry. The metaphors and crossing out of various sentences throughout the novel (you can see an example in my third favorite quote above) help to portray the scattered mind of the narrator and protagonist, Juliette, in a way nothing else could.
And what’s perhaps even more impressive is that this is a young adult dystopian novel that is beautifully written. I hate to be a Debbie Downer about young adult dystopian fiction, but with the exception of Ally Condie’s Matched series and now the Shatter Me series, I’ve yet to read any that are poignant or exquisitely written. Sure, they’re fun to read, exciting, and great to turn into movies with hot male leads (I’m looking at you Theo James!), but are rarely books with diction that makes me swoon. But man oh man is Shatter Me different. Mafi’s prose in Shatter Me is more in the realm of Margaret Atwood than Suzanne Collins and is all the better for it.
And yet it still has all the things that make young adults love dystopian fiction. It’s got great romance, action, suspense, a powerful hero, an even more powerful heroine, and the ever-present love triangle of all dystopian books. But the action, suspense, romance, and characters in Shatter Me are much better than that of the average dystopian book. The plot of this book is unexpected and not at all predictable (as most dystopian books admittedly are), with so many unexpected twists and turns your head will truly (forgive me for the cliche) be left spinning. It’s one of the most exciting and beautifully-written books I have read in awhile.
What My Students Could Learn From It
Though I love this book so so much, I must admit there’s not a ton kids could learn from Shatter Me. I think it’s just one of those novels that make kids love reading and appreciate poetic language. Which, in my opinion, is enough.