Reading Corner- Shatter Me Book Review


Ava Goren

Shatter Me is a young adult, dystopian novel series that centers around a 17-year-old girl with a lethal touch named Juliette Ferrars who’s forced to use her powers to advance and maintain the regime of the Reestablishment, a corrupt world government that restricts and controls citizens. Juliette has never had solace in her life with her own human race rejecting her, including her own flesh and blood. She has been traumatized and tortured in hospitals, mental health asylums, and juvenile detention centers because of her lethal powers and a past accident that continues to haunt her. This story is one of love, angst, friendship, companionship, family, rebellion, and most of all, self-love and discovery.


While Juliette is the main character in this series, some other major characters are Adam Kent, Juliette’s first friend and lover and a soldier stationed on base 45. Kenji Kishimoto, another soldier in Sector 45 and someone who grows to become a key figure in Juliette’s life. Aaron Warner, chief commander of Sector 45 and the antagonist of the first book. As well as, James Kent, Adam’s little brother. Throughout this book and the next ten (including the short novellas), we find out a lot more about these characters, so I’m trying to spoil as little as I can. All I can say is, all is not what it seems. The descriptions I gave you are skewed perceptions we are made to believe in this first book. There’s a lot more hidden below the surface.


About The Characters’ Personalities:


Juliette Ferrars: In the first book, Juliette is traumatized and beaten down. There’s no other way to look at it. The book is written in first person, so, with Juliette being the main character, the author goes into intricate detail about the workings of her mind and how she thinks and feels. Through this, we can tell she speaks negatively about herself, thinks she deserves the worst, and doesn’t trust anyone. It takes her a long time to open up to the main male lead of this book (Adam) and he’s the only person she learns to trust at this point. She doesn’t even trust herself. However, Juliette is very virtuous and compassionate to others. She’s sympathetic to the people of the world who have been trapped inside compounds and fed nothing but scraps like animals, and she does everything she can to prevent herself from going against what she believes is right. Throughout this book, Juliette is mostly trapped inside her head, doing more thinking and feeling agonizing emotions than acting to make a change.


Adam Kent: Adam Kent is distrustful of Juliette and guarded at first. Eventually, he starts to open up to Juliette and they get closer. A plot twist changes their relationship and for the first time, Juliette has someone in her life who values, embraces, defends, and loves her. His quick development of feelings for her however is a bit suspicious and unrealistic in my opinion. His fierce devotion to Juliette in such little time leaves readers with the burning question of…why? Unfortunately, that question is never fully answered and we can just chalk it up to a choice Mafi made when creating the story. While Adam’s character is mostly displayed through his interactions with other characters such as Juliette and his little brother James, we get the impression that he is a passionate, caring, and empathetic individual in the first book.


Aaron Warner (or, “Warner” in the first book): Aaron Warner is the Supreme Commander of Sector 45. He is a cold, conniving, intense, harsh, and unbending person who doesn’t seem to value humans’ lives or feelings. He is a workaholic who is as much a soldier to his higher-ups as other soldiers are. He removes Juliette from the asylum that she’s been in for almost a year and forcefully houses her on Sector 45’s base where he puts her through stressful situations that force her to use her lethal touch. Warner is very obsessed with Juliette in this book. He’s psychotic and gives off perverted, stalker vibes. It’s creepy. Anyone who has looked into this series knows that Warner becomes the main male lead as Juliette is turned off of Adam. I’m not against this, but only because of the discoveries and events of the next few books. When you only take Warner’s psychotic behavior from book one and the knowledge that he and Juliette end up together, it seems twisted. That being said, while my personal feelings for the character change following book two, I think it would paint a better message if Mafi left out some inexcusable and irredeemable scenes in this book since that’s where she was going. 


Kenji Kishimoto: Kenji Kishimoto is a minor character in the first Shatter Me book. He is flirty, fun, honorable, and likes to poke fun at characters such as Juliette and especially Adam. The book tells us that Adam and Kenji used to be friends when they first got to Sector 45’s base, but when Kenji is introduced onward, Adam is irritated by his presence and crude, but humorous mockery. Juliette doesn’t originally like Kenji who makes a move on her immediately after he meets her, but over time, she opens up to him as they form a mutually trusting friendship. Kenji’s character is further explored in the books that follow, but remains mostly a mystery in book one. As the series progresses, Kenji is revealed to be a much more complicated character than he is originally portrayed to be.


James Kent: James is such a refreshing character! He’s Adam’s kid-brother who is smart, tenderhearted, comedic, and insanely brave for a kid his age. James has been rolling with the punches since the Reestablishment seized power and has adjusted to his new way of living while maintaining his smile and sunshine-y attitude. He’s only the second person (the first being Adam) to treat Juliette with love and kindness. His wit and humor left me giggling and saying, “Oh James!”. In the dark, dystopian world that is the Shatter Me universe, James’s presence is greatly needed and appreciated. 


Writing Style:

This series got me out of a reading-rut that I had been in for years, so I’m slightly biased, but this book is the best book I’ve ever read. If Tahereh Mafi hadn’t written it using a style and technique that is unique only to her, I know this wouldn’t be the case. In my opinion, Mafi is a genius. Not only is the plot of the Shatter Me series unbelievably entertaining, engaging, and well-rounded in all aspects, but the way it’s written is indescribably beautiful. Mafi uses non-literal and figurative language to express Juliette’s thoughts and feelings and since she chose to make those a priority in the first book, it is packed with them. The emotional language and repetition Mafi uses really resonated with me and provoked an emotional response within me that helped me connect with the main character. Not every author can achieve this. Mafi’s long interior monologues cover a variety of emotional topics such as loneliness, family, repressed thoughts and the hidden truth within those thoughts, trauma, PTSD, nightmares, time, and freedom. Additionally, these monologues are perfectly drawn out. Mafi knows how to take an idea and build on it and this is clearly communicated through Juliette’s personal reflections on life. These monologues left me thinking, “How did she come up with this analogy?! Because it’s perfect! It describes how humans feel and live better than any literal language or even another figurative phrase ever could!” Mafi’s analogies are new and as accurate as possible, coming close to even being poetic.


Overall, I rate this first book in the popular “Shatter Me” series a 10/10, 5 stars, and in more informal language, a 100/10 because it’s that good. This book has everything in it and will make you feel emotions more intensely than you ever thought was possible, especially since it’s a world formed in your mind. It seems impossible that an imaginary world that every reader creates a little differently would have such an impact on someone, and yet, it does. The characters, lines, writing, and concepts that are explored within this book are an escape from the real-world while also being a beacon of awareness that translates into the real-world and causes readers to put themselves in the characters’ shoes and empathize with them about their struggles and the trauma that is formed as a result. Shatter Me is a work of art as well as an important social piece that educates and sensitizes readers to both the external and internal fights that humans wrestle with every day.