The novel begins with the protagonist, B Smith, waking from a nightmare about the military complex to find herself in a scrapyard, which she promptly departs by jumping from a stack of cars onto a roof.
In pain, B staggers down a derelict street filled with zombies and eventually collapses, but finds a fresh corpse strapped into a car, and eats the woman's brain.
After vomiting, B begins to contemplate her own mortality, talking to the corpse about how she "had it easy" dying, in contrast to B. When the sun sets, B leaves the car after being examined by a male zombie, and departs the area.
After undergoing numerous checks from the other undead, B breaks into a newsagents to find an A to Z, discovering that she's in the East End. She then breaks into a chemist's for some eye drops, followed by a hardware store, where she takes a hammer, a few screwdrivers, a chisel and a file for her teeth. The department store is next, and B finds herself a new outfit, including the most expensive leather jacket in the store; a pair of sunglasses to protect her eyes; a men's Australian cork hat and a pair of gloves.
While exploring the burnt out shell of London, B notices a small red 'z' painted above a door, with a small arrow beneath, just like the one Mr Dowling painted on her face. Hurrying away, she crosses a road, but a car starts up and hits her while she's momentarily blinded by the headlights.
Four men dressed in combat gear with guns exit the vehicle and open fire. B dives into a butcher's shop while they argue about who should have the shot. Their names are revealed to be Tag, Essex, Coley and Barnes, with the latter two being more experienced. They throw a Molotov cocktail into the shop and B leaps out. Just as they're about to shoot her, she pleads for her life. The men are momentarily stunned that she spoke, but Barnes and Coley begin to argue with Tag and Essex over whether or not she should die. Eventually, they decide to let her live, and drive away, leaving her in the street.
B winds up on her old street and enters her old flat, finding it abandoned. She listens to some music on her iPod, before going to 'sleep' in her parent's old bed. She spends somewhere between a few days and a few weeks in the flat, on,y leaving three times to feed. The radio still works, and while listening to the official news network, she learns that 4 or 5 billion people have died. Over the next few days, she only listens because of one story, about how rescue attempts have been launched. She learns of two rescues in London, in the north and south, so reasons that the east should be visited soon.
Eventually, a rescue is announced to occur in Central London in three days, as the largest rescue attempt yet. On her way, B finds a zombie strung up by a noose from a lamp post. As she goes to free it, she sees a man behind an easel. After chasing him, they come to a stop and he tells B that his name is Timothy Jackson. She reluctantly agrees that he couldn't have freed the zombie and explains that she's a 'revitalised zombie'. Timothy eventually invites her back to his studio.
B finds Timothy's work macabre, yet unbelievable. She's drawn to one in particular on a girl with her head cracked open on the pavement. Timothy begins talking about how the apocalypse was the work of God, and asks B if she believes in God. He finishes the tour of his studio and explains that he had an art partner, Alan, who was a sculptor, and that he had to drive a chisel through his head when he turned. That was when Timothy created his first painting, using Alan's blood in the paint mix. He later burnt the painting.
Timothy sketches her later, but B doesn't like the drawing, which disappoints Timothy. The next morning, she tells Timothy that she has to leave, and that he should join her. He politely refuses, telling B that he belongs where he is. They leave on good terms, with Timothy telling B that she's always welcome in his studio, and B promises to spread the word about his paintings.
B decides to explore the Tower of London, but is attacked by a Beefeater until she presents a ticket to the tower, which she stole from the booth. She notes that the Ravens have flown away and that London has now fallen. She crosses Tower Bridge and spots the HMS Belfast. There are humans on board who shoot at her, despite her shouting.
On her way to the Tate Modern, B watches four men and five women, all dressed in blue robes with a tiny blue symbol etched onto their foreheads with dyed white hair, leave a boat. She follows them and attracts their attention as she's 'unsettled' by them and they appear to be unarmed. The woman who appears to be leading them introduces herself as Sister Clare of the Order of the Shnax, and explains that they are embarking on a walk of faith. After an unpleasant discussion with her, B decides to follow them to St Paul's Cathedral.
B learns from her questioning that the Order of the Shnax are followers of aliens, the stars and other celestial beings. B mocks their faith, telling Sister Clare that if she truly believed, she would've come at night, or shed enter a building packed with zombies. When one of the fanatics, Sean, agrees with B, Sister Clare becomes livid and spits in B's face. As B prepares for a fight, Sister Clare offers her life. B, remembering her promise to Tyler Bayor, refuses. Sister Clare then takes her followers down into Liverpool Street Station, to B's horror.
Despite there being at least a hundred of the undead in the station, the fanatics form a circle and begin to sing. The approaching zombies stop about a metre away, held entranced by the song. Sister Clare commands the zombies to break form to let them through, but one of the zombies grabs one of the women and rips open her arm. Her screams set off the rest of the zombies, slaughtering all but Sister Clare, who is led to an escape by B.
Their way out proves to be a dead end, and B puts a broom across the door, noting that it'll only hold them off for a few minutes and explains to Sister Clare that there is no way out as they're underground. Sister Clare then demands that B make her a revitalised zombie so that she can continue her work without fear. B eventually agrees and bites Sister Clare on the lower lip. B assures her that she will end up like she is, but naturally isn't sure if that's the case at all. Eventually, the zombies break through, but don't attack and Sister Clare becomes a zombie.
B searches Covent Gardens for a new set of clothes, settling on shoes three sizes too big and "gloves better suited to a giant" to disguise the bones in her hands and feet, as well as a jumper to disguise the hole in her chest.
Despite arriving at Trafalgar Square five minutes early, there are seven people already there: three men, a woman with a baby, an eight year old girl and a boy a little younger than B. They relax at the sound of her voice, but no one talks. A few more people arrive, and at exactly twelve, four military helicopters arrive. Three of them settle on the steps of the national gallery, but the twelve soldiers who leave the vehicles open fire on the steps as the civillians approach. They demand the everyone undress before they board, which everyone but B reluctantly does. B attempts to explain herself, but the soldiers assume that she's infected and open fire on her.
In the conflict, B loses both shoes, her hat and glasses, and is left half-blinded by the midday light. When she regains her senses, she notes that the fourth helicopter, which was firing at her, has crashed. A second armed force leaves the gallery, and she recognises the hoodies, jeans and disfigured faces as those of the mutants from the Imperial War museum and the underground complex, led by Mr Dowling.
The mutants overrun the helicopters and defeat the soldiers, penning the survivors in the centre. After Mr Dowling performs a twisted dance, one of the mutants speaks:
”Ladies, gentlemen and children - it's show time! Welcome to the weird, wild, wonderful world of Mr Dowling and his amazing cohorts. Thrill to the sight of the living dead and their masters. Coo as we rip you from head to toe. Cheer as we make intricate designs out of your gooey innards. Worship as we take you to hell and beyond."Mr Dowling decides that he wants the baby, but a man begs to be taken instead. He is promptly ripped apart by the zombies at the order of their master. The mutant takes the baby from the woman's arms and gives her to Mr Dowling, who holds her with "surprising gentleness". The woman is told that she has the choice of sparing her child, or the lives of everyone in the square. At this point, Owl Man arrives.
B has a brief discussion with Owl Man, and the mutant who ordered the choice is named as Kinslow. The woman chooses to spare her child and sacrifice everyone else, to the outrage of those assembled. They are all slaughtered, but Mr Dowling puts his finger into the throat of a zombie, before putting it into the baby's mouth, effectively turning her into a zombie. After her child is returned to her, Mr Dowling and Kinslow watch to see what happens. The woman eventually unbuttons her shirt to breastfeed her baby.
Kinslow offers B a place with their group for the second time, to which she vehemently refuses. She is left in the square alone, where she stays overnight. In the morning, she leaves, passing Whitehall and Downing Street and arrives at Big Ben, where there is another, larger red 'z' and an arrow painted at the base, pointing towards Westminster Bridge. Following the arrows, she notes that the London eye is still turning. hpHungry and in pain, she decides to visit St Thomas' Hospital, reasoning that they must have a morgue.
After feeding, she comes to the entrance of County Hall, which has another 'z' and an arrow pointing inwards. She wanders around the building for a while, before settling resolutely in one room, feeling very much alone. The book ends with speech from an unknown character:
"Good morning, Miss Smith. We've been expecting you."
The protagonist of the novel series. In this book, we follow B in her attempt at being rescued by someone so she can do some good, but her attempt falls flat.
Tag is a member of a zombie hunting group, which consists of himself, Essex, Coley and Barnes. Tag is described as "nervous" and asks numerous questions, leading us to believe that it's the first time he's gone on a mission like this. He is described as "a thin man with a Scottish accent. Long hair tied back in a ponytail." Tag agrees with Essex that they should leave and seems thoroughly spooked by B's human-like characteristics.
One of the four zombie hunters, Essex is the first to take a shot at B. When she explains that she was being held by soldiers in the underground complex, Essex is the one to reveal that they are not in the army and are vigilante hunters. He is also the one to suggest that they leave, as they ran the risk of being gunned down by friendly fire.
Barnes is the American member of the zombie hunters. He is clearly one of the more experienced members of the group, along with Coley. Described as having dark brown eyes with black hair with grey streaks, he is the tallest, lean and muscular. B notes that he's the only one not wearing gloves and that he has a bullet tucked behind his ear.
Once it is revealed that B can speak, Barnes no longer wishes to kill her, telling Coley "We mop up the dead, we don't execute the living." He tells Coley that she's too much like a living person for him to be able to kill her. Barnes tells Coley that if he were to kill B, he would shoot out his kneecaps, which eventually leads to them leaving her alone.
Coley is the final member of the zombie hunting group, one of the more experienced members and the most reluctant to let B live. He was the one driving the car that hit B. He is described as having hair cut short like a soldier, with a pair of designer glasses on. He is the most likely member of the team to have previous military experience, as he claims to have shot something that could tell him it's name. He is only dissuaded from killing B by Barnes, who threatens to shoot out Coley's kneecaps if he kills her, which he reacts angrily to. He tests his luck by driving a couple of metres forwards, with the assumed threat of hitting Barnes. The last B sees of their team is Coley putting his middle finger up at her as they drive away.
Timothy is a deranged artist living down Brick Lane, who believes that his painting of the apocalypse is the work of God. He previously had a partner named Alan, who was a sculptor. When Alan turned into a zombie, Timothy explains that he put a chisel through his head, before using his blood to paint a picture of his corpse, which he burnt. When B offers to take him with her to Trafalgar Square, he refuses, saying that his place was there. B left him hugging his paintings, "lost to a world of madness."
Timothy is described as being in his early thirties, of mid height and a little thin, with dark circles around his eyes. When B met him, he wore a pink shirt, yellow trousers and a tweed jacket, all of which looked like they came "from a top-notch shop." He has long, untidy brown hair, but is freshly shaven.
Sister Clare was the leader of the fanatics of the Order of the Shnax. She is described as having white hair, blue eyes and a pinched face. She generally describes B as "foul" and "vile" but is confident that B won't attack them. After B dares her to challenge herself, she leads the other eight members of the Order into Liverpool Street Station, where they are killed. She is later turned into a zombie by B, after begging her to do so so that she could continue her work.
A briefly mentioned character, Sean was one of the fanatics slaughtered in the Train Station. He agreed with B when she told Sister Clare that she was scared, which ultimately led to his death. He had white hair, blue, sleeveless robes and a blue symbol etched onto his forehead like the other members of the Order of the Shnax.
Kinslow is the mutant who does the majority of the talking, and acts as a translator for Mr Dowling. It is likely that he wears a hoodie and jeans like the other mutants, but no physical description is given. Kinslow suggests that B be killed for her impertinence towards Mr Dowling, but is reprimanded by Owl Man.
"The flesh of a severed face hangs from each shoulder of his jacket. Lengths of human guts are wrapped around his arms, and severed ears are pinned to his trouser legs. A baby's skull sticks out of the end of each of his ridiculously large red shoes. His hair is all sorts of different colours and lengths, torn from the heads of others in clumps and stapled into place. The flesh around his eyes has been cut away and filled with soot. Two V-shaped channels run from just under either eye, down to his upper lip, and the bone beneath has been painted pink. A human eye has been stuck to the end of his nose and little red stars are dotted around it."Mr Dowling is the leader of the mutants. He has the most notable appearance of any of the characters in this book, as described above. Mr Dowling wasn't in a "boyish" mood, which, according to Kinslow, was the only thing that stopped him from killing the baby immediately. Instead, he fed the baby the blood of a zombie, which effectively turned her into a zombie.
His behaviour is very erratic. He went from dancing down the steps to holding the baby with "surprising gentleness". He is, however, notably violent in action and intent.
Owl Man makes a brief return at the end of the book, offering B a hand up, which she rejected. He snapped at Kinslow when he suggested B be killed, telling him that only Mr Dowling decided who lived and who died.