When we’re first introduced to Juliette she has been sitting in solitary confinement for 264 days after killing someone by merely touching them. The ruling power called The Reestablishment decided it was best to lock her up for the rest of her life, until one day the door to her cell opens and a new cell mate strolls in and changes her life forever.
I was introduced to this book during my first few days of using Twitter after following book blogs and authors, it eventually led to me following @TaherehMafi, and I decided to look up the book she mentioned in her twitter description (see social networking really does work!). The premise was intriguing and the next time I was at the bookstore I found it on the shelf and decided to flip through it. What really caught my eye was the unique strike through sentences littered throughout the book, so I figured why not and bought it.
Also the cover was shiny— I’m easily distracted and attracted to shiny objects. Really though the glittering burst surrounding the model on the cover was really effective in conveying the tag line “My Touch Is Power.”, it feels like a wave of power moving outward.
Juliette has been isolated from others since her childhood, with constant ridicule and no physical contact, and then eventually prison. It’s no wonder that solitary confinement would make someone a little batty, really it’s to be expected to come out with some imbalance. Also, when you’re forced to look at the same 4 walls every day, you get to know them extremely well- in explicit detail and Juliette had a knack for details and expressing them in listed numbers. This gave a very strict structured feel to the whole world when she was describing things, which is pretty effective considering she spends most of her time in military controlled compounds. In general this whole experience has made her extremely distrustful and introverted.
The story reads like a journal, where she is recounting the events leading up to and including the present, and adding little bits of internal dialogue that at the moment she wanted to say but didn’t— which to the reader we see it as the stricken out lines. Some people may find these distracting, but I actually enjoyed them, they slowed down my reading a bit. I really didn’t mind though, I took the time to savour these little moments that let us peek into the character’s state of mind.
The character of Juliette is a complex and multifaceted one, with each side conflicting with the other. She’s very wary of others (with good reason), but she wants to help people if she can. She craves to touch others (especially when you’re a hormone fuelled teenager), but is constantly reminded that her touch can kill. This causes moments of self loathing and then moments of defiance against her captor. It was really interesting to be able to explore the many parts of her character, but sometimes it was a bit difficult to follow, I’d stop and think wait what? Is this the same person? I was really glad that eventually we start seeing a more unified and strong Juliette, who is much more coherent - I look forward to how much more she might grow in the subsequent books.
Warner, Juliette’s captor and the commander of a particular slice of Reestablishment heaven plays an over the top obsessed psycho who will do anything to have Juliette as a weapon….and for other more unsavoury purposes… Really his character is just that super creepy guy that wants to show the world how awesome he is by any super sadistic means necessary, honestly, I was disturbed by him — well played Tahereh…well played.
Adam, oh Adam, he reminds me of Clark Kent (the Smallville version), the self sacrificing saviour, driven by the downstairs brain to “save the girl!”. Also, insert obligatory muscular body here. Need I say more?
The supporting characters, tended to steal the show though. Where with Juliette, Warner and Adam we get some pretty serious dialogue, the character Kenji provided the much needed comedic relief to the serious situations. His banter back and forth with everyone is hilarious.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, and the ending reveal was a huge shocker moment that exploded the doors open for an exciting sequel.