Author: Tahereh Mafi
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Dystopia/Paranormal
Format: EBook, Print
Publisher: Harper Collins
On Sale Date: November 15, 2011
Recommended Reading: 15+
****THERE ARE NO SPOILERS****
SYNOPSIS: 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.
THE GIST: Juliette is locked up, has been for almost nine months. When she touches people, it hurts/kills them (think Rogue from X-men). The world is crumbling and there’s no such thing as justice–not in the world Juliette lives in. Freedom comes with such a high cost, being locked up and forgotten (or worse) might be a much better option.
I’ve seen people land on both sides of the “hate” fence with this book. It’s the kind of novel you either get or don’t, and it’s highly stylized, so if you’re into classic literature, this book might make you cringe. However, if you’re into numbers and possibly thinking the character (and you) might be crazy… you’re in for a fun ride. I’ve never seen anything like this, and it’s so unique and visceral that I would probably squeal like a star struck school girl in the presence of the great Tahereh Mafi. Saying she has “a way with words” wouldn’t quite cover it. Seriously, just preview the book online and you’ll see what I mean on the very first page.
Seriously, go look.
BREAKDOWN: Juliette’s plight is unimaginable. I can’t picture a life in which I could not touch another person. Mafi did a great job of pulling me into that dread and allowing me to feel the ache and loneliness, the sense of abandonment, and the agony of longing for human contact despite human contact being deadly (for the recipient). In reading, you hurt for this character. And she’s incredibly easy to empathize with, so much that you may even feel like you are right there with her, suffering. As it should be.
There’s plenty of action (in more than one connotation), with one hunk of a hero and a slimy yet somehow completely juicy bad guy in a dystopian society with a touch of paranormal for kicks. It’s exciting, fast-paced, intense, passionate, and shamelessly romantic. Juliette’s counterpart/hero shares a dynamic with her that’s intense from the start, and oh what a fun/excruciating ride it is watching them squirm.
Okay, okay, it can’t all be butterflies and rainbows, right? Don’t I have a single objective or critical opinion of this book? Well, not really. As I said, if you’re really into grammar, and if supposed/intentional ‘errors’ drive you nuts, or if you don’t like prose in present tense… you may not like it. Strike-throughs, random numbers, incomplete sentences, and missing punctuation all play into the state of mind of the main character of the story, which reads more like a journal than prose (as it was intended). For me, the way it’s written demanded that I read quickly, literally propelling me forward by the sheer anxiety it caused me to read the words as I imagined the character thinking them. And the style alone didn’t account for my inability to put this book down. I loved it. (Seriously, I can’t think of anything bad unless I wanted to go through and read it a third time just to find something to nitpick).
I came across this book in my search for dystopian YA novels after I’d read Divergent and the Hunger Games trilogy. It was the most pleasant surprise of my dystopian journey, and I read the book faster than I’ve read anything else to date. I literally only put it down because I had to sleep, but I picked it right back up the next day and finished. Thankfully, it was the weekend or I don’t know what I would’ve done.
I wanted a sequel so badly, and was disappointed that there wasn’t one at the time, but I knew this would be a series I’d have to follow. In October, Mafi released a novella called DESTROY ME which worked to tide her fans over until the February 5th, 2013 release of book 2, UNRAVEL ME. It’s not too late to get on board. You can easily catch up by then and be foaming at the mouth alongside me for the release of Unravel Me. In the mean time, you can move on to 1.5 in the series, the novella DESTROY ME… which I will post my thoughts on Thursday!
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