A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shatter Me is the first book in a dystopian romance series by Iranian American author Tahereh Mafi. It's part of a trilogy that includes Unravel Me and Ignite Me. There is also follow-up trilogy with the same characters as well as four novellas. Newer editions of Shatter Me come with the first novella, Destroy Me, which tells much of the story from the villain's perspective. Two common dystopian themes combine in this series: what the world could look like after humans wrecked the environment, and what could happen if a totalitarian government took over. The main character, Juliette, as well as two other characters grow up with abuse and neglect. The story begins in an asylum where Juliette is starved and isolated. Violence includes gunfire, with one death and injuries, a brief sexual assault, and talk of children hurt or killed. Swearing is prevalent, but doesn't go beyond "s--t." Characters kiss, grope, and remove clothing with talk of wanting to have sex. At the core of Shatter Me is the idea of power. There are those who are hungry for it and wield it to control others, and those who have innate power and show restraint and reverence for others.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In SHATTER ME, Juliette has been isolated and starved in an asylum for almost a year when they tell her she's to have a roommate. She's more than shocked when a man walks in, steals her bed, and leaves her with the floor to sleep on. Still, she offers him kindness by showing him how the asylum works. (When the cell door opens, it's time to run for the shower room in the pitch blackness and fish bits of soap out of the drains.) As they warm up to each other, this man, Adam, wants to know why she's there. All she can tell him is that he should never touch her, that bad things happen. Just as Juliette feels she's gained a friend, soldiers come and whisk them away and she learns who Adam really is: a soldier sent to spy on her and make sure she's still sane. Juliette is to be taken to an army base where she will be the local commander's newest lethal toy.
Is it any good?
There's no putting down this intense, dramatic, and steamy dystopian thriller filled with tortured souls and physical prose. Many teens will be drawn to the unique prose style, while some will just find it jarring. It's in present tense, focused heavily on movement, and full of cross-out marks to show what the main character is trying to censor in herself. Juliette hates the harm she can do others, thinks ill of her neglectful parents but wants to forgive, hates all her desires that she thinks can never be fulfilled. These desires are forbidden in her mind, which adds to the intensity of the love story.
Shatter Me will remind you very much of X-Men as the story wraps. And we don't know why people like Juliette exist. Or if it has anything to do with the state of her dystopian world. But it's clear that this series is still ramping up in a big way, and many teens will want to be along for the dramatic ride.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the abuse suffered by the characters in Shatter Me. Is it hard to read about this kind of violence? How did it change Juliette, Adam, and Warner? Why do you think they turned out so differently?
Do you often read dystopian novels? Are there times it's harder to read dystopian stories and times you seek them out? Do they change the way you look at the real world?
Will you read more in the series? What do you think is in store for Juliette? Adam? Warner?
- Author: Tahereh Mafi
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date: November 5, 2011
- Number of pages: 448
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 19, 2021
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