We’re still in the process of coming down from our Hunger Games high, and worried about withdrawal symptoms. So naturally, we have to think of other things to look forward to, like all the other dystopian YA novels that will one day be made into movies. Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me is one such book, and it just so happens that she’s a Hunger Games superfan as well. That’s why we asked her to share her review of the movie as she thinks about whether her own adaptation will one day whip us into a record-breaking frenzy.
If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that The Hunger Games does to me what sloths to do Kristen Bell. I’ve made several unverified statements about sharpie-tattooing “PEETA4EVA” on my forehead, always freak out when I meet people with Mockingjay tattoos and have lied multiple times about showing up to the premiere with little more than a bag of pita bread and a bucket for my tears. So to say that I was really excited to see this movie would be a huge, hilarious understatement.
For us rabid fans, our expectations are a little higher, a little harder to satisfy. We’re the ones who already know exactly what The Hunger Games is all about, the ones who know that Suzanne Collins’ gripping dystopian novel is much more than a story about 24 kids who have to kill each other on national television. We’ve been curled up in a fetal position since the series ended, quietly rocking back and forth in anticipation of its cinematic debut. But I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be okay. We’re all going to be okay.
Because they nailed it.
We’ve already told you how much we love Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me. But since it’s Dystopian Week, and you’ve had a chance to hear from the likes of Delirium author Lauren Oliver here, Divergent‘s Veronica Roth on NextMovie.com and Legend mastermind Marie Lu on Hollywood Crush, we thought it was only fair to let Mafi tell you a little bit more about her dark vision of the future and what she hopes it does for people in the present. Also, we just really, really wanted to talk to her.
Shatter Me takes place in a world under military rule following a series of environmental disasters, but that world doesn’t come from a very dark mind. “I’m not a pessimistic person by any stretch of the imagination — I do have high hopes for our future — but I do wonder sometimes if we’re going to be OK,” she told TheFABlife. “I definitely would say that I’m concerned about the environment. I’m definitely concerned about what we’re doing to it and what’s happening to society.”
Check out the status of all the dystopian movie adaptations in the works over on NextMovie.
After watching “a lot of documentaries,” especially one that described how male fish have started to develop female reproductive systems due to estrogen polluting the water, Mafi relished the idea of using her fiction to show others where this could lead.
“In fiction, we’re given this opportunity to take things to extremes and to examine life in hyperbolic situations and to really ask questions about what might happen,” she said. “I just imagined a world where things had gone badly. It’s a not-too-distant future. It’s not a world that is incredibly unfamiliar to us.”
Are you already missing that hyperventilating feeling you got after watching the Hunger Games trailer? The one you had while reading the Hunger Games trilogy, too? Well, you could go skydiving to re-create the adrenaline rush while waiting for the movie to come out. Or you could just pick up Shatter Me, the book by debut author Tahereh Mafi that just hit shelves today.
“I’ve been locked up for 264 days,” 17-year-old Juliette says at the opening of the book, just when her solitary confinement has come to an end and she gets a cellmate, a boy who asks a whole lot of questions. The reason she’s locked up, we soon learn, is that she can kill a person simply by touching them. This affliction made her a pariah for her entire life, rejected even by her parents, and a terrible accident was the last straw. But as her new companion, Adam, tells her, the world outside the harsh asylum is hardly better. Before she was locked up, humans had already abused the earth so much that most animals were extinct, food was scarce and birds didn’t fly. But now a military regime called the Reestablishment has taken over the country, with their sights set on the world.
That plot alone is enough to reel us in (and it’s surely what reeled in 20th Century Fox, which bought up the movie rights back in March). But with so many teen dystopian novels flooding the market, what truly makes Shatter Me stand out from the pack is the beautiful, poetic nature of Juliette’s thoughts. (“I always wonder about raindrops. I wonder about how they’re always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. … I am a raindrop.”) As she scribbles in her contraband notebook (and continues in her mind), many sentences are literally struck out, showing how she’s learned to censor her most vulnerable thoughts even to herself. And as she finds herself drawn to Adam, who may or may not be someone she knew long ago, her loneliness is palpable: “His touch is scorching through my skin through layers of fabric and I inhale so fast my lungs collapse. I’m caught in colliding currents of confusion, so desperate
so desperate so desperate to be close so desperate to be far away. I don’t know how to move away from him. I don’t want to move away from him.”