In an alternate world startlingly close to our own, humans have nine lives - and they can't wait to use them up.
The government has death incentives aimed at controlling overpopulation.
As you shed lives, you shed your awkward phases: one death is equal to one physical and mental upgrade.
Julian's friends are obsessed with the idea of burning, but Julian is determined to stay on his first life for as long as he can.
His mother burned too fast and inflicted a debilitating rebirth sickness on herself.
Julian realizes that he's going to have to burn at some point - especially when he becomes a target for Nicholas, the manipulative leader of the Burners, the school's suicide club.