After an electromagnetic pulse destroys all electronic devices and billions of folks, the relative few remaining aren’t liking their odds. Apart from starvation, natural disasters, and marauding gangs of desperate survivors, there is also the fact that almost all of the young people are now turning into flesh-eating zombies. Bummer. Alex, Tom, and Ellie are three who, at first, escaped all of the possible hazards. Soon, however, Ellie is kidnapped for her bait potential—since children are rare, she’s valuable enough to get her abductors admitted to a safe haven. Tom ends up gravely injured, and Alex herself seems to have a range of options that are all actually worse than her life before the pulse (in which she was dying of a brain tumor, just to give some perspective). Readers seeking levity or happy endings are duly warned that this is a grim world and all of the paths are realistically horrific—there really are no quick saves or easy options after the end of the world as the characters know it. While it might have been more comforting had some survivors been heroes, it is to Bick’s credit that she sticks with her premise that epic, utter disaster would yield frightened, selfish, dangerous, and deranged individuals, and these are the folks with whom Alex, stubborn and brilliant and achingly relatable, must contend. The gorgeous (and disturbing cover) is sure to grab attention; an impeccable sci-fi/horror balance, quick pace, and risky storytelling all live up to the jacket’s promise.