Today, I’m posting two book reviews. First off will be the Book of the Week which is the post that you are reading right now. I will post later today the second episode of Sara’s Quick Picks. I have been reading like crazy and have been overloaded with so many books.
And the best part is, I keep getting books recommended to me, which is amazing. Keep that coming. I love to hear what you all are reading. It keeps me all excited and happy to feel like I have a never ending “to-read” list.
And I am SO excited because I received my first ever ARC (advance reading copy). Since I’m a blogger, and I blog mostly about books, I’ve been trying to get my hands on some ARCs for awhile now, with some limited success. By limited success, I mean that I’ve gotten my name out there, sent my address to some publishers but that’s about it.
So I was so excited to receive, by surprise, an advanced copy of The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson today. I hope to read that VERY soon and have a review up. Just keep in mind that this book isn’t actually released until August 27th so maybe reading the review is a bad idea :)
But in the meantime, here is this week’s Book of the Week!
young adult, dystopian, romance, science fiction
Part of a Series:
Yes, it is followed by Unravel Me (published this year), and an untitled third book releasing in 2014. There is also an e-novella entitled Destroy Me available.
You May Like if You Liked:
Divergent by Veronica Roth and Legend by Marie Lu
The world has changed. We abused the earth too much and she’s feeling the pain. The climate has changed, the animals are gone, food is nearly impossible to grow. There is a new boss in town, the Reestablishment, and the way of life as we know it is flipped upside down in this heavily regulated, militaristic world.
Juliette is the main character of this novel and you first meet her in her prison room. She hasn’t spoken to anyone in years, hasn’t touched anymore and her own comfort is a makeshift notebook and her one leaky pen in which she writes. She can’t touch anyone. Anyone she touches loses strength extremely quickly, experiences terrible pain and dies. Her touch equals death. Her parents despise and society practically mobs against her very existence. She is teased, bullied, ridiculed, told that she’s better off killing herself. She’s poked and prodded, sent to hospitals and put under a million tests. When it just seems like too much, her parents send her away, to an “establishment” (read: prison), wiping their hands clean of her.
Suddenly, after hundreds of days of solitude, Juliette gets a roommate in the form of a very handsome boy who doesn’t seem crazy in the slightest and is someone she recognizes from her past on the outside. His name is Adam and he wants to be her friend, even in the deep and dismal place that they both inhabit. But Juliette’s never had a friend before and has never been able to get close to anyone before, due to her deadly power, especially after the mistake she made, the secret she keeps. But there is more to Adam that she knows and soon she is recruited as a weapon, to use the power that binds her and frightens her.
It’s another young adult dystopian romance. I know, this is the kind of books that I generally tend to gravitate toward, along with fantasy and science fiction. But there is a lot of it out there, especially in this golden age of YA literature. I think this is something that could really hold Tahereh back. I know quite a few of my book buddies that are like “oh god, please no more dystopian” when I try to recommend them books. Not exactly a good sign for those hoping to get their dystopian novels out there, and noticed. People are getting tired of them. I’m not, really, but I will admit, I don’t go out of my way to find them. I usually read dystopian books when they are recommended to me by people whose opinion I trust.
I only took notice of “Shatter Me” because Tahereh was popping up everywhere. She was at the Festival of Books and she’s been Ransom Riggs (who, by the way, is an absolutely beautiful man), Marie Lu, Kami Garcia, Alyson Noel and Margaret Stohl. She’s been EVERYWHERE. I was basically like, who is this author anyway? So I bought Shatter Me. I don’t know if I would have picked it up otherwise.
That all being said, I absolutely loved this book. I told myself that I would try and reach a goal of 200 books read this year and I am so behind because I am SO busy. I picked this book up and everything else flew out of my head. Finals? Pssh. Writing for the blog? Psssh. Life in general? Pssh. I read this book in about four or five hours because it was SO good. It was so impressively good. I hope more people are talking about this book than just me because I really enjoyed it. I had to know what happened next and she just released the sequel, Unravel Me, earlier this year which means its only out in hardback, which means its going to be fairly expensive. But you know what? I enjoyed the book so much that I caved in and bought the hardback yesterday.
I loved Juliette. Juliette is wary of all people, wary of the world, but she’s such a good person and still cares about the world. She has this power, this crazy, intense power that is frightening. All she has to do is simply touch someone to cause the pain, the suffering, the death. That is absolutely frightening and I’m sure incredibly difficult to understand. And Juliette didn’t have anyone there to help her, to explain, to do anything. Her parents immediately tried to fix her, and when that didn’t work, they gave on her. There was no affection, no love, no warmth. She hasn’t known anything but hate and despise and ignorance, wherever she goes. But despite that, she’s still an inherently good person. She doesn’t trust people, she doesn’t trust Adam, or Warner, the man who wants to use her as a weapon, she doesn’t trust most people, but she still doesn’t want to fight people, doesn’t want to kill people, no matter what they’ve done to her.
I also like the dynamic between Adam and Juliette, especially the relationship that starts building between them. Everything like this is new to Juliette, she literally has never had a relationship of any kind: not a parental, friendship, anything. She doesn’t know what its like to hold someone’s hand. She doesn’t know what its like to have someone smile at her, genuinely smile. She doesn’t know what a hug feels like, the warmth and happiness and comfort it can provide. So when she finds someone who is able to share that with her, its beautiful, and the way Mafi writes it is beautiful. She really creates the newness of the feelings and sensations so well. I’ve been in a relationship for five years, I’ve been in relationships before. I’ve been hugged my whole life from family and friends. I love the touch of affection and I can only imagine how it would feel, experiencing it for the first time.
I also like that the world that Tahereh creates. It is familiar to us, not only because it is a world not entirely different from our own but also because we’ve all read various different dystopian books before. We have a society that broke down, and had to be reestablished, and in being reestablished, a group of people come into power, and come up with militaristic ways, and heavy rules and regulations. This is not new to us. However, the way that they got us there is a lot different than I have seen before. So many of the dystopian novels are post-apocalyptic or after war, especially of the nuclear variety. Its a society that has emerged from the aftermath of war. In “Shatter Me”, its an entirely different source of trouble. The Reestablishment comes out of a global warming crisis, a breakdown of the actual planet, not the society and its structure. I really liked that. People don’t tend to explore that kind of thing and I really admired it.
Plus the whole powers thing, it felt very X-Men to me. I mean, sure Juliette’s power is seriously deadly and easy to misunderstand be absolutely scared of, but I do think that a lot of it comes from just ignorance and the inability to accept and try to understand something that is new and foreign to them. But I like that we eventually see more acceptance, and its really awesome. Its interesting to watch Juliette’s progress through the book, and watching her as she deals with her power.
I also liked the actual way she formatted the book. I liked that we are so in Juliette’s head, so much that its almost like she’s writing the book herself. I like that some phrases and words are crossed out. We get to see what she’s really thinking, or what she really wants to say before we get the amended version. Its really hard to describe so I took a picture of a page toward the beginning of the book so you could see.
I really get a kick out of this. We get all of Juliette, both her thoughts, her words, and her amended words. And you can also see her own self doubting in such a real, raw way. I really loved this technique.
4.5 out of 5 Stars
Recommended or Not:
Yes, definitely. It was an absolutely brilliant book and I seriously blew through it. It was a very fast paced and emotional book, lots of really deep and emotional turmoil and all of that. Plus the relationship between Juliette and Adam is really really fun and super juicy.
Now I’m off to go read Unravel Me, because I’m just dying to find out what happens next!
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