Boston has been nuked; the north is a radiation wasteland; the government is a religious cult called HomeState. This is the world of Shift and Adrian Havoc. In the not to distant future the world has fallen apart and been put back together by religion. The government preaches daily through “Raptures” and is predicting “Shift” or the end of the world. Adrian lives with his mother, who is a scientist for the government, and his little sister Shriek, aka Melody, who is somewhat psychic. His father has not been seen in a long time; the last they knew he was on the moon. His mother has to go on a secret mission and disappears. Shriek is obsessed with the zoo and the last penguin. Soon Adrian finds himself of a mission, a mission to rescue the penguin and take it north. Adrian, Shriek, the penguin and a young zookeeper kidnap the penguin and head into the Deadlands. They travel through the radiation wasteland before reaching Maine. There they have to confront the end of the world and their own secret mission.
There is a lot going on in this little book. I enjoy these types of post-apocalyptic dystopians. The more plausible the story the more intriguing it is. While I am not sure a religious group would nuke a city just to come into power, I did find this society eerie and pretty realistic. It has aspects of Nazi Germany with its persecution of other religious groups. The characters are all well developed; you really understand who Adrian and Shriek and Lenora are and what they want to accomplish. Where I think this book falls apart a little is the ending and the secret mission into the mountain. I found this part a little ridiculous, but it did make for an exciting end to the book.