The setting: suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the outset that a strange plague has descended upon the area's teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact.
The disease is manifested in any number of ways -- from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) -- but once you've got it, that's it. There's no turning back.
As we inhabit the heads of several key characters -- some kids who have it, some who don't, some who are about to get it -- what unfolds isn't the expected battle to fight the plague, or bring heightened awareness to it, or even to treat it. What we become witness to instead is a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high school alienation itself -- the savagery, the cruelty, the relentless anxiety and ennui, the longing for escape.
And then the murders start.