Spoiler warning: Being a synopsis, this covers all of the main plot points of the book from beginning to end.
In 1992 America, an amnesiac girl befriends and rescues a teenage sex slave. They name themselves KADE and CARE. Kade struggles with disassociation and terrifying visions when touched. Care is a boisterous, cynical drunk.
After shoplifting clothes, a street kid DRYDEN tries to drug and rape them, but Kade defeats him, displaying a growingly uncanny set of skills. Kade stays up on amphetamines to watch comatose Care, who wakes up thrilled about a huge bag of drugs and alcohol Kade stole. They decide to sell the drugs for cash to skip town, starting with a party where Care deals them with help from a stranger named JACKIE. The party gets busted and they flee to a tent they hid in the woods.
Abusing alcohol increasingly, Care spills details about her past, having been horrifically abused and forced to abuse others, causing ambivalence about her morality. They take hallucinogens, which culminates in a sexual encounter, which Kade mostly blacks out and regrets.
Next morning, they enter a skatepark and arrange a risky deal to sell much of their ecstasy pills the next day. Kade is unsure, but Care insists on the plan, before talking more about her past, insisting she’s as corrupt as her former abusers, while forcing Kade to drink.
Care awakens to Kade, bags packed to leave immediately. Care follows, claiming she tried this before but was recaptured. They get lost in the woods, inexplicably encountering the same dead raven repeatedly, until Care breaks down and Kade concedes to staying and proceeding with their drug dealing plan.
The deal with the skatepark kids falls apart when an older brother tries to rob them, but Kade deftly prevents it, robbing them instead, and they escape to their tent. Kade shows knowledge of a stolen handgun and decides to acquire more ammo.
Elsewhere, they meet hillbillies gambling on teenage fighting matches. Kade bests an undefeated fighter, winning money and a tip on a local gun dealer. They locate him, a good-natured and heavily-equipped veteran named WALL WILLIAMS, and after a brief standoff, convince him to equip them.
Care continues to abuse the drugs and alcohol. They reluctantly agree on a last ditch deal with a dangerous character called the Devil. Care initiates another sexual encounter, causing Kade to descend into complex, fragmented visions of a forgotten past. Coming to during sex, she pushes Care away, alienating her friend.
Kade finds Care heavily intoxicated the next morning and they both rest, feeling at odds with one another, before continuing to the Devil’s eerie house. The Devil takes Care hostage and she shoots him. They flee to his basement, only to be separated in an endless house of horrors. Kade breaks through the illusion, rescuing Care in an unlikely gambit and releasing one of the Devil’s mutilated torture victims on the way out.
After a blazing car chase and shootout, police capture Care, and a murderous blonde ambushes Kade. She reveals herself and Kade as trained agents of a shadowy organization called the SPIDERS seeking to retake Kade because she is somehow unique. She almost exacts revenge on Kade for nearly killing her when Kade’s mind control programming failed and she killed a group of other agents, but Kade is saved by the freed torture victim. She flees to Wall Williams, wounded.
Wall implores Kade to forget Care and save herself. She refuses, pointing out the vague but monstrous conspiracy that created her and entangles them all. Wall’s two highly-trained sons insist they help, and the friendly girl Jackie from the party steps in, revealing herself to be Wall’s niece, the eyes and ears of their family’s covert operation to aid the town’s vulnerable.
Wall reluctantly agrees to help, ordering them to rest and devise a plan. Jackie and Kade discover they both knew Dryden, who was both Jackie’s former lover and likely a broken rogue agent like Kade.
The next morning, Kade takes an officer hostage at the police station to discover Care’s location. She releases a rookie cop before blowing the station up and radioing Jackie the next step of their plan.
Kade walks alone into the bar and brothel she first rescued Care from, amid a sea of armed guards, and finds Care held hostage by the Spider that trained her. Risking everything, Kade neutralizes her former mentor’s programming with her voice- the secret key that makes her so valuable- and saves Care during a barrage of supporting fire from Wall and his sons. She laments her now-unbrainwashed mentor’s death as he’s cut down in the ensuing chaos as they flee.
Care and Kade make it to a semi-trailer truck arranged by Wall and escape. The driver shifts in physical appearances, and after they wake up in a seemingly aged interior, they’re stranded in a new town farther east. They marvel at unfamiliar new cars, smartphones, and high prices for food and cigarettes. Care first seems her normal self, but they’re both shocked when they look at their receipt and realize it is many years in the future.