Turner Falls is a small tourist town nestled in the hills of western Oregon, the kind of town you escape to for a vacation. For Lucy Henderson, all she can think about is escaping from Turner Falls; from the rich Jerkasses at her school with their sexist and racist jokes, only getting their way thanks to the money their parents have.
In the final weeks of the school year, tragedy strikes when one of her classmates suddenly loses all senses and murders a teacher right in front of her. Already dealing with a troubled past, Lucy has her nerves stretched to the limit, unaware of the warning of things to come.
Suddenly one night, many of the youth of the idyllic small town are stricken with the same madness as they become violent psychopaths. As chaos consumes Turner Falls, Lucy bands with a small group of immune in order to survive the night. For so long she's wanted to escape, now if she doesn't it'll cost Lucy her life .
A novel by Jeremy Robert Johnson, Stranger Things meets World War Z in this heart-racing conspiracy thriller as a lonely young woman teams up with a group of fellow outcasts to survive the night in a town overcome by a science experiment gone wrong.
This novel contains examples of...
- Action Survivor: Lucy and her group, who are just a bunch of high school students who are forced to try and escape their hometown.
- Adult Fear
- Your child, with no warning and no explanation, goes ballistic in the middle of class mutilating a fellow classmate and murdering a teacher.
- Jason Wards parents experience this when he goes missing even if it took them two days to report it.
- For Lucy, finding her adopted parents in a catatonic state from the signal being broadcast on the tv is very much like finding them dead or collapsed on the floor.
- Asshole Victim The rich teens who are falling under the effects of whatever it is that's causing them to turn psycho are established time and again to be rich Jerkasses. Many are sexist, racist, elitist and are The Bully for the school which seems to be the only way they get their kicks.
- Axe-Crazy Something has begun to infect the youth (mainly the child of the upper-class) that's driving them to murder and cause mayhem.
- Big Bad: Jason Ward, or whatever that's "hollowed" him out, who is apparently the source of the infected and directs their actions.
- Bio Punk: The source of the infection is an implant developed by IMTech that uses biotechnology on the human brain, correcting neurological problems, curing illnesses like Parkinsons, and even improving baseline intelligence. Naturally things go horribly wrong starting with turning everyone into psychopaths part of a Hive Mind while using them as incubators for the implants as they have begun to evolve into independent creatures.
- Bittersweet Ending: Lucy and Brewer have absolutely been through the wringer and watched everyone they care about be killed by the infected, but they succeed in getting the message to IMTech and the government to convince them to bomb the town off the map to prevent the infection from spreading. Lucy and Brewer are able to hold hands together in their final moments, knowing that all of their suffering wasn't for nothing.
- Body Horror: What happens to Jason Ward and several other infectees offscreen. Shown in glorious, horrible detail when Marisol's implant mutates to the point that it ceases needing her to be able to propagate. To say nothing of what became of Jason's "girlfriends"...
- Break the Cutie: Lucy. Twice
- First she spends her childhood in Peru taking care of herself before nearly being killed in a car accident caused by her neglectful addict parents (which also kills them).
- Then one week after watching a classmate mutilate another one, kill a teacher, and be killed himself she's forced into a night of horror as she chased by psychotic teens, her Happily Adopted parents are left in a catatonic state, and she forced to kill repeatedly.
- Brick Joke: While at the Wild Teen Party before everything goes to hell, Brewer (high on magic mushrooms) asks Lucy about pink dolphins found in Peru. She confirms their existence and relates an anecdote from her childhood. After he survives the infected, Brewer uses this story to proves it's him and not an infected.
- Brown Note: On top of the suddenly-turned psychotic teens tearing Turner Falls apart, someone has hijacked every form of electronic media. Not only does this cut off all communication outside the town, but whoever did it sent out a fake Emergency Broadcast message with a hidden sensory input. Whoever listens is left hypnotized and too much exposure will leave the subjects catatonic just like the Hendersons.
- Conspiracy Theorist: The host of Nightwatchman is regarded as this with any fans of the show seen as someone you don't want to take life advice from according to Bucket. Unlike most examples though, he does back up his claims, which aren't all out there, with actual facts that's available to the public.
- Cosmic Horror Story: Steve discusses the possibility of the Oracle infection becoming this, assimilating the entire human race into a singular writhing, suffering mass of flesh before venturing into the stars to continue propagating on other planets. Fortunately, this is stopped before it can truly get off the ground.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Lucy had a very hard go of it despite being only 17. Her birth parents in Peru were neglectful addicts who were gone all hours of the day and Lucy had to learn to fend for herself. When they died and after spending time in an orphanage, she was adopted by an American couple which seemed like a Hope Spot. Unfortunately she was only one of four non-white kids in the while school and regularly had to deal with the racist, sexist, rich Jerkasses that she went to school with. That's not counting what she has to experience throughout the course of the book.
- Evil Feels Good: The reason apparently for why the infected are killing as for some reason it helps them to clear their minds. This is because the malfunctioning Oracle implant is wreaking havoc on their dopamine production, flooding them with dopamine when they commit atrocities, and bottoming them out when they don't, rapidly conditioning them to become monsters.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Oracle was supposed to fix violent impulses. In particular, it was supposed to make Jason Ward stop being a sociopath. But instead, it became like him, and so did everyone connected to it.
- Good Parents: Lucys adopted parents the Hendersons try to do their best for her including having her take classes to ensure she doesn't "forget about her heritage", not realizing that Lucy's childhood in Peru is nothing but bad memories. They love her very much and it's established that she loves them in return, being forced to abandon their catatonic bodies hurts worse then the death of her biological parents.
- Greater-Scope Villain: IMTech, the company that made the Oracle implant and was all too willing to let an entire town eat itself alive as a field test. That said, they aren't so evil or reckless that they can't see the bigger picture. Once they're successfully informed just how much of a danger Oracle stands to humanity at large, they're more than willing to put the area to the nuclear torch to make sure there is absolutely no chance of it spreading.
- Happily Adopted: Lucy was brought to America and adopted by the Hendersons following the deaths of her addict birth parents. It's made repeatedly clear that they love her and while she Can't Spit It Out, she loves them too.
- Hope Spot: Steve tries to reason with the military at the blockade to destroy Turner Falls to prevent the infection from spreading. It doesn't end well for him.
- Icy Blue Eyes: One of the signs of the infected is that, no matter what the color was before, they have bright blue eyes with the irises "blurring at the edge".
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Emmett is at the receiving end of this when an infected Toni impales him with a screwdriver, which leaves him paralyzed and in pain.
- Improvised Weapons: The group that Lucy is apart of have to make do with whatever is available, with herself wielding a wrench from Brewer's truck.
- Kill 'Em All: Every single character dies. Lucy makes a Heroic Sacrifice, infecting herself so she can hack the Oracle network and transmit a message telling the US government to bomb Turner Falls.
- Mushroom Samba: Brewer thinks he's experiencing this at the Wild Teen Party when after eating some magic mushrooms. He quickly sobers up when he realizes that the infected are real.
- Puppeteer Parasite: This is how Oracle can best be described, with its implants inserting themselves into the back of the infecteds neck
- Not Quite Dead: Brewer is initially believed to have been killed by the infected back at the cave where the Wild Teen Party was. Then he shows up at Lucy's house with an injured classmate having somehow escaped them.
- Rich Bitch: The teens who seem the most affected are those from the upper-class families of Turner Falls which only makes them Asshole Victims since many are presented as elitist Jerkasses making it hard to feel bad to what happens to them.
- Jason Ward was apparently the worst of them though, as even his own father realized he was a psychopath and tried to use the Oracle device to help him.
- Shout-Out: Dr Tikoshi from Skullcrack City is mentioned. The idea of using oracle to influence consumer behavior is also a reference to what the afformentioned Doctor was working on for a corporation.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Jason Ward, the student who went missing and never actually makes a proper appearance within the story itself, was the initial test subject for the Oracle implant and the cause of the infection. Jason was apparently such a sociopath that the Oracle, which was supposed to help him get better, was corrupted by his influence, causing it to rapidly mutate and begin trying to propagate.
- Technopath: This is how Oracle was able to prevent IMTech or the military from destroy Turner Falls and how they later hack a drone to kill Steve.
- Trust Password How Brewer proves it's really him and not one of the infected by repeating a story Lucy told him earlier that night. What convinces her is both what he says and how he says it:
- Weaksauce Weakness: For unknown reasons, Oracle requires two working eyes in its hosts. Even only missing one eye is enough to disqualify you from infection, even retroactively.
- What You Are in the Dark: Lucy briefly considers leaving Jake behind both due to his injury making him The Load of the group and because he's a rich Jerkass who've probably do the same if the roles were reversed. She ultimately decides even he doesn't deserve what the infected would do if they found him.
- Wild Teen Party: One is thrown the night after its announced the school year is ending a couple weeks early, though not why obviously.note It's here that Lucy is introduced to the infected properly when many of the party goers begin to go nuts and kill each other.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: When Intrepid Reporter Emmet is sent on a truth-seeking assignment to a town in the desert, he decides to "go full Gonzo", renting an enormous Cadillac and packing the trunk full of psychedelic drugs. It doesn't take long after he arrives in town to realize that this is not a Hunter S. Thompson story, but a Zombie Apocalypse Body Horror story.