Author: Tahereh Mafi
Date: November 1st 2011
Genre: YA- Dystopian/Paranormal Fantasy
I’ve heard from various sources that the main complaint they’ve had with this story was its being essentially 338 pages of set-up for the next book. We get introduced and well acquainted with some very strong and captivating characters but very little insight into what was actually going on. And yeah, that assessment is pretty much dead on, but it doesn’t mean that the story is short on awesome.
When we begin Juliette believes herself to be a patient in an insane asylum. In her post apocalyptic world, resources, wildlife, safety and humanity amongst humans is growing increasingly rare. The remaining people are subject to a rigid military rule that leaves little tolerance for the unexplained and no one can explain Juliette. It is a complete mystery why the simple touch of her hand on another person can result in excruciating pain, so the world locks her away and forgets about her. Months later, Juliette is given a roommate, a young man named Adam with blue eyes that are unmistakably familiar to her. Adam is her first human contact in a long time and with him she tentatively begins to build a friendship that has her toying with the idea that she might not be crazy. And she’s right, she’s not in an asylum and she’s far from crazy- she’s a military experiment.
Something happened with this book that hasn’t happened for several books now- it’s filled with dogeared pages marking some exemplary passages. Mafi’s writing is tinged throughout with moments of OMG, some had me pausing to reread, or take in what she was describing. There’s nothing I love more than having pages that I simply HAVE to go back and revisit. I felt Mafi’s writing was far superior to the actual story and she could have been telling me anything and I would have bought it.
Killing time isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand. I can rip the numbers off the clock and watch the hour hand tick tick tick its final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I’ve been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind.
Juliette’s story is a scary one, and she’s not only scared for herself, she’s scared of herself. Where so many authors would take this opportunity to have their MC miraculously and heroically discover an untapped source of bravery and brawn, Mafi lets Juliette experience the terror of her situation just as she should. Not everyone with super powers is a hero. Not yet anyway. I prefer to think that in future installments, Juliette will come into her own gradually, as befits her personality.
I’m still not sure what to make of Adam, our captor/hero/love interest. I’m not sold on him completely as he falls into the group of heroes particular to YA fiction in which he lets his love suffer “for her own good.” And he isn’t broody enough- you know how I like them.
Final thoughts? We need more authors like Mafi in YA. You know, ones who can actually write. I can’t wait for the sequel and I’m really interested to see where Warner’s story goes. Underneath he’s desperately afraid of appearing weak and I almost think he feels he needs someone as powerful as Juliette to love him in order to validate his position- which could make a man very, very desperate.