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An absolutely stunning debut,
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This review is from: Shatter Me (Hardcover)
I have started, erased and re-started this review several times now. I know that every book deserves a review, but it's hard to find the right words to do this book justice.
I have not long finished this book, actually, around 15 minutes ago. I have had it glued to my hand on a daily basis, staying up late because I was lost in the world created by Tahereh Mafi.
For me, getting lost in a book is a regular occurence, when the book is a good one. Let me tell you, this one knocked my socks off!
I literally eat, sleep, drink, breathe the written word. Books are my passion, my life. This is for sure one book that I will not forget in a hurry.
I can honestly say that what drew me to this book was the cover. People were talking about it on Twitter and, as I usually do, I had to look it up on Amazon. Boy am I ever glad I did. It sure lived up to the hype.
There is only one slight negative about it so I might as well get it out of the way now and move on to the positive. The cover. It is both a positive and a negative for me personally. The eye-catching, absolutely stunning cover had me salivating. I am a self-confessed book cover magpie. As many people now know, I am a collector of beautiful, shiny covers. So this was the positive.
The negative however, was the fact that it was so beautiful. How is that so, you ask? Well let me explain. The world within the covers is a Dystopian world, controlled by The Reestablishment. There are strict rules and it is a stark environment.
The cover usually conveys something to us of what is inside the book, but to me, this cover didn't do that. The cover suggests happiness - something beautiful. It isn't until I got further into the book that I saw where thie idea for the cover may have come from.
So now you are thinking "Oh my God, this woman just spent ages telling me about the cover. I wish she'd get on with it and tell me more about the story". Well, that is exactly what I intend to do. Now.
"I've been locked up for 264 days.
I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen
and the number in my head to keep me company.1 window.
4 walls. 144 square feet of space. 26 letters in an alphabet
I haven't spoken in 264 days of isolation."
These are the words that greet us on the first page. It must be hard being Juliette Farrars. She has been in isolation for 264 days. Meaning she hasn't seen, spoken to or touched another living soul in 264 days. Her mouth is not used to forming the words that comprise of the alphabet she knows yet remains unspoken.
Juliette is trapped in a living hell. She gets a meal of what one can only describe as gruel, once a day. It is too hot to touch straight away. She knows this only too well and has the scars to prove it.
She sits alone in a cell day and night. One window and about 10 square feet of space. Only a thin blanket and a mattress of springs for company. She has a notebook and a pen, that she rations the ink rather than run it dry.
The world outside is crumbling and has little time to pay attention to the needs and wants of a 17 year old girl. Disease has all but ravaged the poulation. Food has become scarce. Crops do not grow. Birds do not fly. Animals are all but extinct.
This is the world The Reestablishment have created. They said that their way was the only hope they had of fixing things.
But it seems that even they are struggling now in the world of their own creation. The survivors are whispering possibilities of war. So now the very same Reestablishment that locked her up are rethinking their decision. Maybe Juliette could be more use to them than they previously thought. Maybe she is just the warrior the world is in need of. A weapon they can control.
I cannot tell you more of the story, for fear of ruining your own journey of discovery. I can only tell you how it made me feel.
There were times when I felt lost in a pit of despair. I felt like tearing my hair out. There were times when I felt trepidation. In fact, this was most times. However, there were also times when I felt that perhaps something good could arise.
I got so lost within the world that Tahereh created, I felt an empathy with Juliette. There was one paragraph that I felt particularly spoke to me on a personal level.
"In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction"
This spoke to me and touched me in a way I have never felt with other books. I feel like I live my life vicariously through the characters on the page. When I am reading a book I enjoy, I tend to feel like I am the female MC. In this case I was Juliette. The things that happened to her, happened to me. When she felt fear, I felt it too. When she felt anger, I felt it too. I was a world of emotions throughout this book. Not many of them good in the beginning. But I am glad to say, there were moments of elation and I felt those too. They were few and far between, but were enough to keep me from feeling like all was bleak and hopeless.
In fact, there was hope. There were even times of happiness. Stolen moments here and there. These were what kept my eyes glued to - and my fingers turning the pages.
This is one of my favourite books of 2011. There is no denying I was desperately upset when it ended. I felt a huge loss. There were no more words for me to devour. I must wait until goodness knows when for another installment. But one thing I do know is that as soon as I hear of the next release, I will be clamouring to get in line for it. Or maybe I'll buy it on Amazon and save myself the hassle of beating someone to death in the local bookshop because they had the audacity to pick up the last copy!
Well done Tahereh on an absolutely stunning debut. Also, well done on capturing my attention and keeping me on tenterhooks for book two. This is not an easy feat, but you did it. And you did it well!