Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.
Juliette has to make a choice:
Be a weapon. Or be a warrior
Juliette, inside of her cell, is told by members of the Reestablishment that after 264 days, she’ll finally get a cellmate. But it is not who she expected; it turns out that her cellmate is a blue-eyed male, and this unnerves Juliette. The cellmate steals her bed, blanket, and pillow from her and asks her why she’s here, though Juliette doesn’t respond.
The next day, Juliette realizes that her cellmate looks vaguely familiar. Their breakfast arrives, and her cellmate immediately reaches out to grab it from the slot only to shove it back because it was so hot. Without a breakfast, the two leave to take a shower. Since the halls are so dark, Juliette has her cellmate hold onto the hem of her cotton shirt, as her touch is lethal. When they arrive back, her cellmate lets her sleeps on the mattress with her blankets and he reveals his name, Adam, and in return the very next day, Juliette shares her name as well.
They begin to talk to each other more while they get used to each other’s presences. Adam tells her that the Reestablishment is torturing and tricking people, and Juliette figures out that Adam only took her belongings on the first day to show his dominance, to stake a claim. Adam also tells her the Reestablishment is planning on recreating everything, including the English language, and the only way Juliette expresses her emotions is through writing in her notebook. She panics, so Adam gently puts a hand to her back to calm her down, yet it does the reverse. She can’t let Adam touch her or he would die, but Adam thinks that he disgusts her so much that she doesn’t want to be touched by him. Later that next, Juliette registers why she recognized Adam and who he is.
In the morning, the door of the cell is shoved open and five soldiers appear. They hit and kick Juliette twice, commanding her to stand on her feet, and she is led out.
It takes two days for Juliette to reach consciousness again. She sees Adam and he is pointing a gun at her chest, he was playing with her the whole time in the cell, and she thinks it was silly to like someone who betrayed her as he did. Juliette is ushered to a young man she describes as very handsome, except for the cruel smile on his face, which instantaneously causes her to hate him. His last name, Warner, is etched onto his lapel on his military jacket, indicating that he is of high importance. Warner wants Juliette to use as a weapon for the Reestablishment because of her fatal touch. He threatens her death if she doesn’t consent to becoming their tool, so she becomes forced to do as he asks. Adam is assigned as Juliette’s guard to assure that she does not try to run away or harm anyone.
After almost a year of isolation, Juliette finally gets to step outside. She notices how barren the world is, the sky is an ugly grey and the compounds are poorly made. She is driven in a tank to Warner’s headquarters that are quite bleak on the outside, yet extravagantly decorated on the inside. Juliette is told to dress pretty for her first dinner with Warner, but she rebels and wears her ratty clothing from the asylum. At the dinner table, Juliette refuses to eat any food. Warner pulls out a gun and shoots a platter of food; successfully making Juliette eat.
Warner escorts her back to her room; during this time, Juliette asks for Warner’s first name. He smiles and offers her his name in trade with a touch from her. Juliette does not agree to touch him, so Warner forces a nearby soldier, whose name is Jenkins, to touch her. She pulls away just before Jenkins is fully killed and cries, hating Warner even more. She passes out in shock, awakening in Warner’s bed. Juliette tries to leave to her own bedroom, but Warner stops her and makes her sleep in his bed once again, though he didn’t sleep with her either nights. When Juliette is allowed back to her room, she notices how terrified the soldiers are of her after what they witnessed happened to Jenkins. Warner says he make Jenkins touch her for her own good, for her own protection, though Juliette disbelieves him.
Adam opens her door to her room, wincing as he does. He is whipped every time that Juliette goes against the rules; this particular time was for not wearing a dress to dinner with Warner, and Juliette promises to behave for Adam’s sake. Inside her bedroom, Adam saved her notebook from the asylum for Juliette. Wearing her dress, Warner and Juliette walk together. Juliette makes a comment on how sad it was for Warner’s mother to raise such a monster, and it unsettles Warner. He demands her to repeat what she said, and Juliette doesn’t understand why he is so worked up on such a minor insult. The rest of the trip is in silence.
When they arrive to their destination, to rows of soldiers, Warner shoots one right in front of Juliette’s and the rest of the troop’s eyes for stealing food from the compounds. After the pair are off-sight, Juliette snaps insults on how heartless and brutal Warner is. She states how disgusted Warner makes her, but Warner compliments her in return. He says her lethal touch is not a disadvantage, rather it makes her powerful.
At night, Juliette wakes to nightmares. She ends up sleeping next to Adam, who comforts her back into sleep. Adam, at day, tries to talk to Juliette, but since there are many cameras in her room, they escape to the bathroom, where there are none. He turns on the shower to muffle their talk in case of any hidden microphones. Adam tells her that he can touch Juliette without getting harmed. He promises to get them away from Warner, to have a new life.
As Juliette spends more time with Warner, she learns that he’s only nineteen years old. She orders to have the cameras in her room removed, however Warner reminds her of the day she accidentally killed a little boy and justifies that she is not safe unmonitored. It turns into an argument; with Juliette vowing to die for her right of privacy. Warner becomes proud that Juliette is finally making a stand. He tries to compromise; he asks her to touch him again in turn for the removal of the cameras. As a way to convince her, Warner jogs Juliette’s memory of the times that people ridiculed her for being a freak, when people called her psychotic, when Juliette blamed herself for how she was treated. Warner informs Juliette that Adam volunteered to trick her and pretend to be her friend in the asylum because they used to go to school together and he could not wait to see Juliette locked up for her crimes. The information makes Juliette enraged; Adam didn’t betray her once, but twice. She is about to touch Warner until she regains her common sense and runs to her room, nonetheless Warner disables the cameras anyway. Afterward, Adam and Juliette are about to kiss when they’re interrupted by loudspeakers.
Juliette flashes back to the time she killed the toddler. It turns out that the mother was abusing the little boy; she had her son on a leash and kept tugging him along. Juliette rushed to save the boy, but unconsciously touched him and he died.
Juliette hears a commotion from her doors. Adam and another soldier named Kenji are arguing; Kenji is trying to see Juliette, and Adam pushes him away, saying that she isn’t some object on display.
An aptitude test is planned for Juliette. She is required to wear very skimpy clothing for it, and it brings her to think that Warner is more demented than she thinks. She enters a room she nicknames the “torture chamber”. Warner, before her test starts, tells her she’s paying her end of the bargain for the withdrawal of the cameras. A toddler stumbles in; he’s surrendered by spikes and traps that could kill him. Juliette tries to save him, but he keeps struggling and coming in contact with her skin. The boy cries, and Juliette is filled with rage for what Warner is putting her through. She slams through the concrete to Warner, warning him the next time she’s put in a position to touch another human, she’ll kill him.
Adam finds Juliette crying on the shower floor. He pledges to keep her safe, and they kiss. When Adam leaves the bathroom, she looks at her reflection in the mirror. He comes back in and kisses her again, commenting on how she’s so beautiful. The intercom announces a CODE SEVEN and it effectively breaks the pair apart; Adam is dismissed by Warner and he leaves to his commanding officer. Warner, now alone with Juliette, pushes her up against the wall. He rips her dress so her leg is shown through the slit. He slips a hand into her dress pocket and pulls out her notebook; Juliette wasn’t allowed to bring anything back from the asylum. Adam bangs open the door, about to shoot Warner if he didn’t get her hands off Juliette. Adam disarms Warner, and he miserably tries to persuade Juliette to say by swearing to love her and treat her like a queen. Juliette pieces together that the CODE SEVEN was just a drill, that it was a distraction. Adam binds together Warner’s limbs, and ties a rope down so they can climb out of the window. Adam says he’ll catch her when he’s on the ground, but Warner tells him he’ll get killed since Juliette is wearing next to no clothing and she’ll surely touch him when he catches her. Juliette ignores him, and Warner figures out that Adam and touch Juliette. Warner grabs for Juliette’s leg and touches it.
Stunned that Warner wasn’t harmed, Juliette jumps down and they take off running. Because Juliette didn’t exercise back at the asylum, she has a hard time keeping up with Adam, so he picks her up. Adam confuses the tracker in his bloodstream by coming to an area with nuclear radiation before heading to his house. Juliette meets James, Adam’s younger brother. Juliette and Adam kiss again, but James interjects by opening the bedroom door and asking to sleep with Adam because of his nightmares. Even though Adam slept with James, Juliette somehow ends up against him in the morning, which bothers James. He asks why Adam is the only one who can safely touch Juliette, but Adam doesn’t have a response to his question. Adam has a private talk with James to explain everything that’s going on prior to him going to school.
The door of Adam’s house is knocked on, and the two suspect it’s Warner, but it turns out to only be Kenji, who laughs at how stupid it was for Adam to run off with Juliette. Adam shoves Kenji into the bathroom to remove the bullet from his leg and to shut him up. It isn’t safe at Adam’s house anymore now that Kenji’s tracker might lead Warner to them, though Adam is already suspicious as to how Kenji even found them in the first place. In concern for James’s well-being, Juliette convinces Adam to let Kenji lead them to a safer place. Right after James comes home from school, Warner’s soldier already have found them and they knock down the door. Adam leaves James with Kenji, vowing to come back for them, and runs away with Juliette. Adam is shot down by Warner and is dragged away.
Warner backs Juliette into a corner and hugs her close. She’s surprised at how gentle Warner’s voice is, how much he wants her. She spots a gun in the inner pocket of Warner’s jacket and decides to trick him; Warner kisses her. Juliette plays along with him, unbuttoning his jacket while he’s distracted and shoots him. She follows the Adam’s blood trail and comes across heavily locked building. Juliette feels a rush of energy as she punches open the door. She releases Adam, who is hanging upside down and shot badly.
Juliette drives them to Kenji and James. When they enter, Juliette is separated from Adam since he goes to the medical wing right away. They question Juliette, who is slightly terrified. She meets Castle, the director of Omega Point; before she enters, Kenji admits he always knew where Adam lived and it wasn’t a coincidence that he was in the army. Castle tours Juliette around Omega Point, welcoming her into the resistance against the Reestablishment.
Castle shows her that other people have gifts. He has the talent of psychokinesis, and he demonstrates it by bringing a key to his hand. He opens the door to the medical wing as Adam is sleeping and Juliette runs to touch him, which startles Castle seeing that he didn’t know Adam was immune to her. He suspects Adam may have a power that makes him protected from her. Juliette tells Adam that she does not think Warner died when she shot him as he wakes. Kenji confirms he isn’t dead, and shows Juliette his invisibility gift. He explains that he followed Adam home invisible and that was how he knew where Adam lived. Adam asks Kenji to get him a new set of clothing so he can have time alone with Juliette. They kiss, though Kenji informs them that the wall is made of glass and he can see everything they’re doing, even so they find a way alone later.
Juliette ends as confident as ever to take down Warner.
Film Adaptation Edit
- Main article: Shatter Me (film)
Film rights were purchased by 20th Century Fox before the book was published. Fox-based Chernin Entertainment will produce the film.