In a vision of futuristic London, all-out war is about to break loose between the government and a group of rebels callings themselves Pins - and in a world where economic hardship makes every day a dog-eat-dog struggle for survival, everyone is going to lose, especially Mira Helling.
We first meet Mira as she waits at a train station. There she meets Nancy Boy, an enigmatic stranger who will not even tell her his real name, and Sarah, who happens to be a leading Pin. They head to a meeting together, but police lie in wait. Nancy and Mira must go on the run, moving on night after night. Capture could mean death, through lethal injections of illegal drugs by the secret police force tasked with finding them. Their flight - and an attempted rape which Mira barely escapes - only pushes them deeper into the ranks of the Pins, until finally they face another raid. This time Mira must choose whether to save Nancy - the boy she hardly knows - or herself.
Meanwhile, Sarah faces her own dilemma. Captured by the secret police, she refuses to betray her friends and family - until the head of department turns out to be a long-lost friend. Rex Hunter's death was faked when an explosion hit their school, but now that they are together again as adults, they cannot deny the forbidden attraction that is growing between them.
Against a backdrop of severe economic downturn, widespread immigration both to and from England, the breakdown of the EU and the UK, and domestic terrorism on the rise, Mira's story intertwines with these characters and others as we follow her on the run across London.
Government man Henry Wickham is sure of his own convictions and his righteous path against the Pins. When he witnesses Mira being given a lethal injection his faith begins to waver - but is it too late? He certainly cannot save Diego: a young Spanish immigrant who stumbles into two lost and abandoned children outside a tube station and takes them in. Rosa and Maxim are looking for their last living relative - but when Diego realises this relative may not exist, he begins to wonder if he will be able to support all three of them.
That dilemma ends when he is shot by police during a Pin raid - and the children have to face the reality of a bitter winter spent alone. Mira dies in Nancy's arms after choosing to save him instead of herself, as Sarah reveals to Rex that she has fallen pregnant. What should be happiness is corrupted by fear as they realise their precarious position.
While each of the characters struggles to survive in a city that is falling apart from the inside, the question hanging over all of them is one of survival. Not of whether they will live, but rather of how they will manage to go on if they do.