What would you do if you were in class and the teacher was talking to your class and one second later, he disappeared? Some kind of magic trick? Not if all the other teachers in the school and everyone who was fifteen just disappeared. At first it seems like a dream come true but then it becomes creepy when no one can explain where they have gone. It is chaos and no one knows what to do except wander around and break into the vending machines.
When the shock kind of wears off and the surviving teens realize they have to do something, they turn to Sam Temple for leadership. He reluctantly gets most of the kids in a loosely organized effort to have the older kids take care of the younger children. No one, not even Sam, has any kind of plan and naturally there are kids who do not want to be bossed around by Sam or anyone else. As if things could not get worse, students from a private school drive into Perdido Beach and take over the town.
Complicating all of this is the fact that some of the kids have developed powers that are scary and potentially very dangerous. Add to this the element of entitlement because of these powers and you have a very volatile situation. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the wild animals also seem to have mutated and they are pretty scary themselves. Things like flying rattlesnakes and talking coyotes who have also grown much bigger and more physically powerful.
It is the good guys against the bad guys with the lines sometimes blurring the longer the kids are without adults to help them. What is interesting is that with one exception, even the bad guys can be seen with some sympathy. If you were in this kind of situation, I wonder how we would behave and what kind of decisions would we make. I find these kind of novels extremely interesting because, they bring out some of the best and the worst in the human species. Hopefully, I would be have the courage to back the kids who are trying to help as many survive as possible.
The book ends with Caine, the leader of the bad guys, limping off into the desert with the leader of the talking coyotes in search of "the darkness". So it seems that there is a sequel in the works. I am looking forward to it. I am eager to see how Sam and the rest of his cohorts fare. How and if they will make it in this small brave, new world.