The book opens in a small town and is narrated from the point of view of the Nash family (Tom, Eli, and Deenie – mother, Georgia, is out of the picture due to an affair, on her part). Deenie loses her virginity at the start of the novel, goes to school and avoids her best friend Lise – she doesn't want to tell her about having sex with a boy that she works with (we later find out why).
During their first class together, Lise has a seizure type episode and is sent home. Deenie worries about Lise and goes to her house to see if she’s ok. When Deenie arrives, she finds out that Lise was taken to the hospital because her heart stopped. By the Deenie gets to the hospital Lise is unconscious.
The next day Deenie’s other close friend, Gabby, has a similar episode during a school recital and is also taken to the hospital. Lise’s mom starts a campaign against the HPV vaccine that all girls at the school were given in the recent years.
Deenie also had the vaccine, she’s not convinced that it’s the cause; she is worried because Deenie, Lise, Gabby, and another girl at school, Skye, were all swimming in a highly contaminated lake the week before. But to further complicate matters, neither she nor Skye has been afflicted.
Then a number of other girls at school became ill as well.
When I heard about this book, I was instantly interested because 1) I love mass hysteria and 2) Megan Abbott is great at writing about messed up teenagers. The wrap-up of the book is great. However, similar to my comment in my last review of Abbott’s work, her characters don’t have much depth. The narration slips between three completely different characters, but I often had to go back and figure out who was talking.