Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review and Giveaway signed Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

Hardcover, 352 pages
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.

My Review:

Ah… the beauty!!!

There are 3 major things I love about this book.

The first is the balance on the edge of sanity. Juliette begins with a roll of a mini-book and a tiny pen where she scratches her thoughts. She has no one to talk to, so her thoughts begin as written and even when she is no longer living precariously out of that mini-book, her thoughts follow the pattern of writing to herself in it. She is forever catching her thoughts and correcting them. 

Sometimes, she is forcing her will over her emotions... sometimes it is her initial reaction that is virtually insane, but at other times it’s her will-power insisting on an imagined reality that is even more insane. Either way, Mafi has captured a level of emotion and imbalance that is exquisite. 

As the story progresses and Juliette’s confidence grows, these cross-outs lessen. She doesn’t have to correct herself as often. Except in moments of great emotion… and it’s precious. What she refuses to admit carries more story than the words she allows to live. Not to mention, so much more of Juliette’s character is revealed without any description!

The second thing I love is the use of Numbers.
“I’ve been locked up for 264 days… 1 window. 4 walls. 144 square feet of space. 26 letters in an alphabet I haven’t spoken in 264 days of isolation… 6,336 hours since I’ve touched another human being.” Pg 1
Numbers are emphasized by using the numerical instead of letter form… Juliette divides her life into counting everything around her to keep her grasp on reality. She counts to wait. She counts to make sense of things. She counts to keep her brain ready to think because she also has moments of freezing, where she can’t move and can’t react and those moments frighten her. I loved, LOVED this use of numbers through-out the entire book.

The third thing I loved, but I also squirmed uncomfortably with… there is an awful lot of sexual tension!! Consistent with the power of the first two major themes, Juliette’s senses are so deprived that any TOUCH at all is an exclamation point!!! Experiencing human contact through her deprived point of view was… beyond words. My words, that is, so I’ll quote again:
“His fingertips are 10 points of electricity killing me with something I’ve never known before. Something I’ve always wanted to feel. 
‘Then why are you here?’ I whisper, broken, dying in his arms. ‘Why…’ 1, 2 attempts at inhalation. ‘Why are you touching me?’ 
‘Because I can.’ He almost cracks a smile and I almost sprout a pair of wings.” Pg 117
I loved this incredible dive into emotions, but, but… those shower scenes are… OMG!!! No, there’s no sex, but only because they keep getting interrupted!! 

Here's my one tiny complaint:  apparently Juliette is any-man’s idea of beautiful ‘cause every one of 'em ogles over her. Since this is opposite of her childhood memories, it leapt out at me as beyond-believable. That EVERY man would suddenly desire her beyond their physical control was a little excessive for me. Adam makes complete sense… they have deep long-bonding connections that ooze believability. Warner also makes sense in a sick, twisted way. 

Warner, btw, is a great hate-able, detestable character and that hint of attraction between him and Juliette is extra creepy, but totally believable. 

It’s just… every other man that saw her flipped over in awe of her seemed far-fetched ‘cause… frankly… if she was THAT hot, she couldn’t be THAT innocent at the same time. You know? She’d have that cocky self-assurance that natural beauty slathers it’s bearers with. So she’s either one or the other… but both? End of teensy-weensy complaint.

I’ve found one more thing I love about this book, now, which makes four:
“He closes his eyes for half of a second and I marvel at the drop drop drops of hot water caught in his eyelashes like pearls forged from pain.” Pg 117
“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 hand tick tick tick its 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.” Pg 127
The writing behind everything… behind the numbers and the edge of sanity and the sensual tension… is incredible. It’s picturesque, unexpected and sharply graphic. I don’t know how many times my heart pounded and I stopped reading and just soaked up an odd phrase here or there, reading it over and over again wondering how Mafi ever thought to put those words together in that combination?  She took a busy storyline filled with complicated characters and spilled it out her own unique way.

You know when you love a book so much you have to read the Acknowledgements section? This thank you to her editor made sense:
“It’s been such a privilege working with someone who so absolutely understands my story. My characters are safe with you in a way they wouldn’t have been anywhere else and I still can’t believe I got so lucky.”
Actually… I can’t believe we all got so lucky!!  This book could have been edited to pieces, stuffed full of punctuation and strict rules about how numbers are handled in books, not to mention No Crossing Out when it’s Thoughts and not even Journal Entries!! This book is a work of art from the writer all the way through the publishing industry… and I really love it.

NOTE:  At the book signing, Tahereh clarified that her agent loved the book in it's entirety, strike-through's and all, so there was never any scary looming publishing bullies to fight off. I was just letting my imagination go crazy in my own little world. Weird.

Cover Commentary:  What's with the dress?!  I'm just curious... it's not even the shimmery one with the pockets or the too-tight one that's hard to run in. I was (happily) caught off guard when the story inside did not match that cover. The blips are right-on... but based on the cover, I thought some super-human girl in formal wear was going to storm the town.

My Rating: 5 stars - Love it!!  I love this book, I want to quote this book, reread this book... I want to follow the author around so I can listen to her quirky humor. Oh, I don't have to!!  She makes vlogs!!  Phew!  That would be creepy!

This vlog is totally AWESOME!!  (Thx for showin' me when it came up, Andrea!!) She describes the book comin' in the fall:  Destroy Me, a "novella" (that's not a novella) in Warner's POV. But don't take my word for it... you'll start following Tareheh around on Twitter like me after you watch this!!

About the Author:

Tahereh Mafi is a girl. She’s 24. She writes books and reads books and drinks way too much coffee. 

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I was thinking of my readers when I went to the book signing... so this is a signed book just for YOU!!  You totally want to read this... even buy a copy and win a copy, both.  Maybe an extra on your e-reader. Can't have too many copies of this one!!  If shipping exceeds $12, you'll have to help me out, but I don't think it will... not even to wherever you are.  My giveaway rules are listed under About Me - mostly, you need to be old enough to win and no one's responsible for any hiccups in the process.

"Be Extraordinary!"
I have some extra swag from the other book signings if you're interested: Spring Into the Future tour summary

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