Diary of teenager Lauren Olamina, 2024-27, as she struggles to survive the collapse of civilization and formulate a new religion that spells out her notion of God as change: from the author of Clay's Ark, the Xenogenesis series, etc. Only walled enclaves like Robledo, California, stand against total descent into barbarism, criminality, and madness; even so, one by one the enclaves are being overrun by drug-crazed ``Paints.'' Olamina's younger brother Keith, tiring of his father's strictures and determined to make a life for himself outside, runs away, to live by robbery, murder, and drug-dealing--and quickly ends up horribly dead. Olamina, despite her hyperempathic sense (she can feel the pain of those near her) learns to be tough; seeing that Robledo will soon fall, she plans to flee north with her boyfriend Curtis. But then the enclave is attacked and destroyed. With two other refugees, Harry and Zahra, Olamina heads north along the beach. An earthquake compounds their problems. Others, impressed by Olamina's caring and determination, join the three, including Bankole, an older man who owns property where the group could settle and found a new community based on Olamina's philosophy. A vanishingly thin plot and dreadfully preachy: imperfections for which Butler's usual virtues--lucid prose, a realistic progression of events, and splendid texture--unfortunately fail to compensate.