Written by: Tahereh Mafi
Juliette Ferrars is a slightly unhinged and emotionally unstable seventeen-year-old girl who was isolated and thrown in a facility for “problematic people”. She inexplicably has the ability to painfully drain the life away from the people she touches. Juliette has the internal conflict of longing to be touched and interacted with, yet she wants people to avoid her person for their own safety. She’s kept isolated with only a notebook and a pen about to run out of ink for company until Adam (A handsome hombre who’s not affected by Juliette’s ‘power.’) comes into the equation. Adam keeps up the façade of being ignorant to their situation to gain Juliette’s trust. In actuality, they both have a history together before Juliette was thrown in the institution. It goes alright for a while when guards suddenly barge in their room one day, and realisations are made. Warner plans to use Juliette’s power for his own benefit. Juliette is defiant to this, and once again, feels lonely, but her heart warms when it’s revealed that Adam has formulated a plan to escape from the institution. They eventually escape (I won’t elaborate.), and Juliette meets Adam’s endearing little brother, James. Adam and Juliette are already in an established relationship by this time of the novel. The story progresses quickly at the point where they see Kenji, Adam’s soldier acquaintance, bloodied and bruised on the doorstep. They are infiltrated by Warner’s forces, and Juliette is distraught at seeing her lover, bloody by a gunshot. She has an encounter with Warner who attempts to seduce and coerce her to his side. She then shoots him, and finds her lover who she finds hanging by the arms in preparation for torture. She blacks out and finds herself with the resistance group which comprise of individuals who like her have unusual capabilities. Juliette finds Adam well, and is drawn into joining the resistance as they offer her the opportunity of belonging.
I was disappointed as this novel actually had the potential of being an engaging read. The dystopian setting is amazing. (A movement is trying to wholly reestablish the world by erasing all traces of history, culture, and literature thus making the people a generic conglomeration.) Unfortunately, the writer chose to write this novel in the perspective of an unstable adolescent who doesn’t even have realistic depth. Quite frankly, only the villain, Warner was the dimensional character. Warner is ruthless, intelligent, and expedient, yet he is also so human. He twistedly desires Juliette as not only a weapon for his use, but as a companion in his conquest. Meanwhile, Juliette’s character to put it bluntly, is flat. A neglected girl who’s been ostracized, and bullied while not being taught moral or encouraged becomes a withdrawn and unrealistically kind. She’s written humane, but not realistically so. Adam’s character seems to be obsessive, clinging to the enigma of the nice girl who didn’t show up to school one day. His planning and concern for his younger brother are the redeeming qualities that put a splash of colour to his personality.
The writer seemed to draw out the introductory chapters to wholly establish the setting and perspective. Unfortunately, this just made it tedious to read. The writer then progresses to make the novel fast-paced until it draws to its conclusion. At the very least, the author brings attention to the conjecture that prosaic people either are disgusted or inexplicably drawn (for their benefit) of the extraordinary qualities of other people.