Shatter Me

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Shatter Me Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Intense, poignant, and steamy dystopian thriller.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

There are two common dystopian themes combined here: what the world could look like after humans wrecked the environment, and what could happen if a totalitarian government took over. Readers can examine both closely, think about how they intersect, and what safeguards society has in place to keep the world of Shatter Me strictly fictional. The story also examines the classic nature/nurture debate. Three characters suffer child abuse and all turn out very differently.

Positive Messages

Resilience, bravery, and connection. Absolute power is corrupt and to be fought against. Power that's wielded with restraint and reverence for others is valued.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Juliette is rejected and abused by her parents growing up, sent to an asylum, and still finds good in the world and other people. Though she has a power that can harm others that would harm her, she never wants to use it. She's contrasted with Warner, the villain, who grew up with an abusive father and is focused on getting his own power back by subjugating others.


Plenty of gunfire: a man is shot through the forehead, others take bullets to legs and arms. A sexual assault that doesn't go beyond kissing and groping. A toddler appears to be tortured (though it turns out to be a simulation). A father chokes his son, and three characters recall growing up with child abuse and neglect. The main character recalls killing a child by accident when she was young. She also survives in an asylum for almost a year, completely isolated and starved, with talk of torture and shock treatments she endured before that.


Passionate kissing, groping, some clothing removed. Main characters talk about being ready to have sex, but are interrupted.


Mostly "s--t," but also "a--hole," "bastards," and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mentions of alcoholic fathers.

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.   

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 and 12-year-old Written byJaylene Crick January 12, 2021

One of my Favourite Book Series

Even though this book series does have a quite a bit of kissing and stuff like that, you could totally read it at the age of 12 if you or your child is quite ma... Continue reading
Adult Written byJulie P. January 6, 2021

beautifully written

This is a wonderful, engaging story with a very interesting plot.
Of course, there's quite some violence and a romantic relationship between main character... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byIcamefrombooktok November 9, 2020

Hear me out

The first one is fine but some of the rest of them I wouldn't give to anyone under 14
Teen, 14 years old Written byJustinedabest December 24, 2020

Good story, too much sex

This book has a great plot with good role models. However, there is a lot of sex throughout this book. Out of the three book this one has the least sex and it... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dystopian stories and nail-biters

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