Lawlessness and violence erupt in a quarantined high school.
David Thorpe can't ditch school and his ex-friends on the football team because it's his epileptic younger brother's first day. That's the day a weapons manufacturer's biologically improbable virus reaches the school—a suspension-of-disbelief–necessary germ that infects teenagers but kills everyone else. However, the virus leaves teens as they leave puberty, taking their resistance but allowing them a chance to escape. Government technology tells the exact date a student will leave puberty and quarantine, just from a thumb on a scanner. Knowledge of this "escape date" undermines the novel's potential for claustrophobic tension. The breakdown into chaos and establishment of new orders (fierce fighting for resources dropped every two weeks) are mostly skipped over. The virus causes white hair, enabling cliques (Varsity, Geeks, Nerds, Freaks, Skaters, the Pretty Ones and Sluts) to dye their hair uniform colors for identification. David and the other outsiders must fight the strict caste system by forming their own clique. The female-dominated groups—Pretty Ones and Sluts—reflect a tiresome woman-as-commodity approach. The female lead and love-triangle anchor (fought over by David and his brother) only occasionally shows signs of personality and is offended but also "excited" by unwanted groping. Additionally, the major characters' voices are indistinguishable and the villain cartoonishly evil—characterization is generally ignored in favor of more gore.
At least this battle for survival has gore going for it. (Science fiction. 14-18)