a recap by 


100% spoilers!


His name starts with “R.” That’s all he remembers. But what’s in a name when you’re a walking corpse just waiting to decompose?

“R” wanders the ruins of post-apocalyptic America with no idea who he is, how he got here, or why he has to eat people. He just follows the crowd: a mindless mob that has spread across the globe and reduced civilization to ruins.

But R is a little different from his fellow Dead. He mourns every person he kills, and when he eats their brains and absorbs their memories, he savors these flashes of life. Somewhere in the fog, a remnant of his humanity is calling to him.

And then he meets Julie.

It’s not exactly love at first sight. Their relationship begins with R killing her estranged boyfriend, Perry, eating his brain, and experiencing his life. But this horrific encounter has an unexpected result: R remembers what it’s like to be truly alive. And he wants more.

First as his captive, then as his guest, Julie is a blast of color in R’s gray landscape, and as their unlikely bond deepens, something inside R begins to bloom. But their actions have ripples they never imagined, disrupting the Dead’s grim society and enraging the skeletal “Boneys” who control it. With these terrifying authorities in pursuit, R escorts Julie home to her stadium fortress, hoping to show the Living that the Dead can be cured.

But the Boneys won’t give them the chance.

As these demonic creatures swarm into the stadium, eager to stomp out the sparks of change, Julie’s father gives in to despair, first trying to kill his own daughter, then letting the skeletons devour him in front of her.

Is this how the revolution ends?


R and Julie have made a profound choice—to resist the plague, to fight for hope—and the change they’ve triggered spreads like a signal, driving the mindless Boneys away from the stadium and into exile.

One by one, the Dead are coming back to life. For the first time in decades, there is hope for a better world.

But the fight has barely begun.


A glimpse into the past that sets the stage for the future. Seven years earlier, three young people are on a collision course…

Twelve-year-old Julie travels with her parents in search of a new home as New York descends into chaos. The government is gone and militant corporations are picking at the corpse of America. Julie grows up hard and fast as this grim family vacation reveals the horrors of the world she inherited.

A few miles away, Ethiopian-American teenager Nora finds herself abandoned by her parents, left to protect her little brother Addis in the ghostly ruins of Seattle. And these ruins aren’t quite empty. A gigantic zombie has caught their scent, pursuing them slowly but relentlessly as Nora searches for help.

And somewhere in the forest, a Dead man wakes up, surrounded by a scene of violence he can’t remember. Who is he? How did he get here? Step by step, R learns the truth about the monster he’s become and what the voice in his belly demands…

These three paths merge in tragedy when the big zombie infects Nora’s brother, claiming him for the Dead. Traumatized by the event, Nora seals away the memory, beginning her years of numb wandering. But when Julie passes her on the highway, this strange little white girl plants a seed of hope that will eventually bring them together.

And without even knowing it, she plants a seed in R too as he listens from the shadows. He won’t remember it or her as he sinks back into the fog, but the seed is there, slowly growing.

R befriends the big zombie—who introduces himself as M—and reluctantly joins the ranks of the Dead, beginning his long journey back to life.


Two months have passed since R rejoined the Living, but he’s still struggling to find his place in their world. He and Julie are building a home together and doing their best to spread this mysterious “cure,” but the Dead are slow to change. And why is R the only one who still hasn’t remembered his past life? Is he hiding something from himself?

Personal struggles are swept into the shadows with the arrival of the Axiom Group, an old-world corporate military that has seemingly risen from its grave. Who are these grinning creatures in colorful ties promising a return to stability? And why do their cheerful speeches send R into nightmarish flashbacks?

When Axiom demonstrates how it achieves its “stability”—by violent conquest and enslavement of the Dead—R and Julie escape the city and go on the run. Old friends Nora and M are at their side, along with an uneasy new ally: Abram, an Axiom defector…and Perry’s older brother.

Separated from his parents as a teenager, Abram was raised inside Axiom’s brutal corporate family, but when the company revived itself, it came back…different. It’s more aggressive than ever, mindlessly expanding with no clear goal while conducting mysterious experiments on the Dead. Abram wants off this runaway train, but he doesn’t care about Julie’s idealistic quest to save the world—he just wants a safe bunker where he can protect his daughter and watch the world burn.

As Axiom closes in on them, the fugitives discover an unlikely getaway vehicle: the ancient airliner that R once called home. With Abram as their reluctant pilot, they embark on an airborne road trip across the ruins of America in search of allies—or at least answers.

But there are some answers R doesn’t want to find. Flash by flash, his past life crawls up from the basement, revealing a monster far worse than any walking corpse. As a teenager he co-founded an arsonist cult that has now spread far beyond him, burning cities to usher in the kingdom of God. And it only got worse from there, as his sociopathic grandfather, Mr. Atvist, pulled him out of prison to help run the family business: a rising corporate military called…the Axiom Group.

Conflicted and miserable, the young heir helped his grandfather spread his empire…until a massive earthquake buried Axiom’s headquarters and Mr. Atvist with it. Alone in the world—and fatally infected with the plague—R ended his dark life with a promise: he would come back, and somehow, he would redeem himself.

And here he is now, starting over with a not-so-clean slate. His girlfriend doesn’t know who he is and could never imagine the truth. Axiom is rising from its grave, an undead behemoth, mindless and hungry. And R has no idea how to stop the monster he helped create.

But R isn’t the only one wrestling with ghosts from his past. For seven years Julie has wondered what really happened to her mother when she ran away from the stadium. Did she mean to start a new life? Or was it suicide? Julie never expected a chance to ask these questions, but in one of Axiom’s bizarre zombie conversion facilities she has a shocking reunion. Her mother is here among the specimens. Her mother is “alive”—undead, and mutilated beyond hope of a second life.

This heartbreaking discovery throws Julie’s world-saving agenda off course as she suffers an emotional breakdown, holding Abram at gunpoint and forcing him to change his plans: she wants to fly to Iceland, an imagined oasis of civilization that she believes could save her mother. Tensions rise as Julie turns against her friends, taking the whole group hostage in a desperate attempt to abandon their struggle and leave America to burn.

They don’t get far. A near-fatal plane crash finally shakes Julie back to her senses, but it’s too late—they’ve landed right on Axiom’s doorstep.

Dragged in chains through the new Manhattan—a hellish preview of the society Axiom wants to create—the fugitives find themselves locked up and awaiting an unknown fate. In the neighboring cell they meet Tomsen, the eccentric journalist behind America’s last newspaper, a multi-talented but slightly insane woman on a lifelong quest to destroy the BABL jammer, a relic of the collapsed government that continues to smother the country, suppressing all communication except its own obsolete propaganda. And Tomsen’s mission has just become even more urgent, because Axiom has hijacked this broadcast, pouring its own stream of fear and hatred into every home.

Julie would love to help—every rebel in the country dreams of freeing the airwaves and reopening America to the world—but there’s not much they can do while they’re imprisoned in Freedom Tower.

And then nature intervenes. The ruined environment takes revenge on its tormentors, coughing up another hurricane that floods Manhattan and sends Axiom into chaos. Reluctantly, R allows his past self to help him open their prison, and they escape as the city sinks.

For the moment, they’re safe. But there’s no time to rest. Axiom has taken Abram’s daughter and R’s adopted children, forcing them into a nightmarish “school” that converts both the Living and the Dead into “human resources.” And Axiom is on the move, spreading west like a plague to its new headquarters…right on top of Julie’s home.

What is the true nature of this bizarre organization? Who or what are its disturbingly  cheery representatives? Why does R hear the voice of his long-dead grandfather mixed into their executive broadcast? And what’s in the big red box being airlifted out of his penthouse?

There’s only one way to answer these questions. R and Julie will have to stop running. They’ll have to  return home and confront the monster that’s living there. They’ll have to help Tomsen destroy BABL, break Axiom’s grip on the airwaves, and spread a new message to the world.

It’s an ambitious plan for five exhausted rebels without weapons or allies, sputtering into battle in a rusty old RV. But before they can fight any evil empires or cure any global plagues, R and Julie will have to face the sickness within: the guilt, distrust, and fear that are unraveling their fragile new bond.

And behind all this…a feral child wanders the wastelands. Not quite Living, not quite Dead…he is something new. Where did he come from? Who is he searching for? And what is he supposed to do with his strange gifts? He has many questions for the universe, which he talks to every day—and sometimes the universe talks back, a chorus of voices whispering in a vast Library, stretching back to the beginning of time. And these voices tell him: keep fighting…the world is almost ready.

The journey ends with