There has been a terrible plague that turns people into cannibalistic zombies. This story is the adventures of a psychiatrist after the plague is cured and the survivors have to confront what they've done. It's a post apocalyptic world in which most people have died. We are never told where they are located, just 'The last surviving city'. It's probably in the United States but doesn't really have to be. In the story the plague was only eight years ago but things like roads and buildings have undergone more like a hundred years of decay.
The plot starts out as the trial of the guy who started the plague, which was caused by an engineered bacteria. In the process they find that there was an even deadlier one produced and there are still vials of that around. Most of the plot is a detective story of trying to find those vials and make sure they are destroyed. In the process they go out passed the wall and into areas where the people have not been cured. That section is like so many post apocalyptic stories, battles with zombies, scavenging deserted homes and offices, etc.
It is inevitable that anyone reading this today will compare it to covid even though it was published in 2013. There are a lot of similarities. 'The world quickly emptied of sanity' was a comment one character made. 'After the plague, the world is just too broken to put back the way it was,' is another. These comments may well be true today, but it is not covid that is the cause. The cannibal zombies in this story can be compared to those who refuse to wear a mask today, both the zombies and the mask-averse are deliberately killing people, the zombies didn't know it at the time because they were so insane from the virus. The mask-averse don't know it at the time because they have also been driven insane, but by the pace of social change and not by the virus. The author tries to make the point that human conflicts arise because of competition for resources or their allocation. That is the excuse that the powerful use, but without the presence of domineering men, scarce resources cause as much cooperation as conflict. Almost all human conflict arises from one person trying to dominate others and force the ones he has already dominated into going forth to dominate others. We were broken long before covid, see the 2016 election in the USA or the 2017 election in Brazil. The driving force is not disease but the enormous loss of status by males, white males in particular. Up until 1950 or so a female just about needed a male to survive, but in today's world the average female is better off without the average male
There are a lot of philosophical musing thruout the story, most of them having to do with guilt and redemption. There is actually very little about things like the cause of human conflict or how to restore civilization once it's been destroyed, or how to keep it from dying in the first place (prevent the amassing of wealth by the few).
There is a type of love affair in the story and there is some sex, though there is nothing explicit and you only once follow them to the bedroom when it is happening. There is more than enough violence, most of it against the zombies caused by the plague. The proofreading is not perfect but not bad enough to impair the reading, but there are a few places where there should have been a blank line and there isn't.
(review of free book)