Two teenagers, Jed and Marina, have little in common beside the fact that their parents have joined a cult that believes that the world is about to end on July 27, 2000. All the families in this cult (called The Believers) have made a camp at the top of a mountain to wait out the Apocalypse.
There are, of course, problems. First, the apparent apocalypse is on Marina's birthday. The camp closed off after a certain number of people come in, leaving Believers who didn't get in to desperately protest outside the gates alongside non-Believer family members concerned about those who did make it in. And (of course) Jed and Marina are starting to fall in love.
This novel provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Marina's mom becomes a lot worse to her kids after they get to the mountain. This seems to be a result of her getting caught up in the whole religious craze, and she gets better in the epilogue.
- Adam and Eve Plot: Reverend Beelson hopes to do this. He even calls the women "Eves."
- Adult Fear:
- On the outsiders' side, they find their loved ones trapped in a compound that no one can enter or exit. This compound is also under attack by "late believers" who only know want in and are physically trying to enter. Then the riot happens, which does kill several people.
- For the people inside the compound, either they are dealing with the oncoming end of the world, with a strange community, or a Crisis of Faith. Jed and Marina have a hard time adjusting, though Marina finds comfort.
- Anti-Villain: Reverend Beelson is portrayed in a rather sympathetic light. Jed is surprised to see, when he talks to him, that Beelson genuinely cares for all of his followers even if his methods are quite questionable.
- As the Good Book Says...: Reverend Beelson does this several times, and Marina does it to.
- Bittersweet Ending: The apocalypse doesn't happen. Jed and Marina live. But a riot ensues the day of the supposed apocalypse, which kills the reverend and Jed's dad.
- Crisis of Faith: Both religious Marina and nonreligious Jed go through one. In the end, Marina finds herself losing her religion, while Jed finds himself becoming more religious.
- Cult: Jed and Marina's parents join one.
- Cult Colony: The Believers make an isolated mountain camp to live in during Armageddon.
- God Is Good/God Is Evil: Not surprisingly, the characters bring up a lot of metaphysical questions related to this answer.
- Heaven Seeker: The Believers.
- Hot for Preacher: Marina's mother is implied to be this.
- Noodle Incident: We never do find out what happened to the Reverend in those three years he disappeared.
- Sinister Minister: Reverend Beelson. But it's averted in person, when Jed talks to him. He doesn't appear to be a bad person, just a horrifyingly misguided one. He's quite calm about the possibility that he may be wrong, and even seems to hope that he is.
- 20 Minutes into the Future: Written in 1998 and set in 2000.
- Truth in Television: For those of you not old enough to remember, there was quite a large scare about computer bugs and the way computers store dates in the years directly preceding 2000.
- Turn of the Millennium: Set in this time period.