A futuristic thriller that pits teens against teens.
Jemma has spent her life scavenging tools and supplies in her tribe's small enclave outside what used to be a big city. Now she’s a teen, and old enough to become a Mama. Making babies is how her people survive—in Jemma’s world, life ends at age seventeen.
Survival has eclipsed love ever since the Parents died of a mysterious plague. But Jemma’s connection to a boy named Apple is stronger than her duty as a Mama. Forced to leave, Jemma and Apple are joined in exile by a mysterious boy who claims to know what is causing them to die. The world is crumbling around them, and their time is running out. Life is short. Can they outlive it?
Lives are short and brutal in this postapocalyptic adventure, in which communities of children fend for themselves in the ruins of Los Angeles, generations after a disease wiped out all adults. Now, girls must become Mamas at 15, since they'll be dead by 17, and love is a luxury none of them can afford. When circumstances force 15-year-old Jemma; her best friend, Lady; the handsome Apple; and the brilliant Pico to leave the safety of the Holy Wood, they see it as an opportunity to seek out a rumored cure for the Ending, so they set off on a quest across a world filled with the remnants of the Parents' civilization. As they dodge the threats of the cannibalistic Biters and the feral Last Lifers, the quartet discovers the secret behind society's collapse and their own inevitable deaths. There's an almost mythological quality to this tale, as the resourceful protagonists maneuver through a barely recognizable landscape, with modern culture filtered through generations of oral history and misinterpretation, and debut novelist Sweat does an admirable job of maintaining the tense atmosphere and underlying desperation. Ages 13 up.