On the night of her senior prom, Jova’s whole world shifts into nightmare. Zombies lunge onto the dance floor, attacking all within their reach. Jova and several other girls escape the mayhem and hole up in the school, struggling to survive each new day. Hunted by cannibalistic men and plague-ridden zombies, the girls defend themselves with hand-made weapons and fierce determination. When the school is compromised, Jova and her friends are forced to flee into the wilds of a destroyed world where even the water is poisonous. Survival depends on choosing the right allies. The future depends on destroying their enemies.
Reading this novel is sort of like walking through a mine field. Random characters and unexpected plot twists burst into the story. Sometimes they connect with the larger plot and other times they pop in and fade out, leaving the reader to do a little head scratching. Some plot elements lack support either from the story world or want of explained logic. The girls barricade themselves inside their old school, but there doesn’t seem to be any food or water sources available in the area. At one point they decide that the way to secure the future is to have babies. It’s difficult to see this as a reasonable idea while they are without shelter and provisions, not to mention that men are extremely dangerous enemies.
What Ferguson does well is focus not only on the threat from the zombies, but explore the other groups who might rise to power in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Cannibals (though considering the zombie situation this seems dangerous) and drug lords seek food sources and slaves, adding to Jova’s list of bad guys to be destroyed. Girl-power juices run high. These girls are armed and ready to kill.
Though many of the girls wear purity rings and vow to preserve their virginity until marriage, the loneliness wears on them. Several of the girls begin relationships with one another. Details are limited, but some crude comments and sexual descriptions are included.
As the girls fear more and more for survival, they decide that the best way to secure a future is to find men with whom they can become pregnant (sperm donors, not fathers to help raise their children), by force if necessary. Again, details are limited, but some brief descriptions are included.
The girls spend time in prayer and chapel services during their time in the school. They discover a cave with Satanist worship symbols and indications of human sacrifice. One girl crosses out the bad symbols and draws symbols for good spells over them. Later, Jova cries out to God to answer for why terrible things have happened to her and her friends. The sky crackles with thunder in an intense moment in which Jova confronts God with her faith and disappointments. While she receives a response, it is less a Moses-on-the-mountain moment and more a miracle moved on and not mentioned again.
The girls tackle zombies and vile men called hunters, who feast on human flesh and repeatedly try to kill them. There’s a fair amount of gore and some icky zombie descriptions. A naked man allies himself with the girls and convinces them to eat human flesh.
A man turns his friends over to an enemy in exchange for a large amount of heroin.