I read a book where a woman wakes up on the side of the highway remembering she’d been captured by zombies(?) who took strips of flesh off her back. Someone saved her then left her on the road. She remembers there was a little girl with her and searched for her.

I remember another scene where she’s in a library with a group of survivors and while outside the little girl is picking dandelions and gets grabbed by zombies (maybe). I remember flashback where most of the world is starving and the government drops some kind of seed that grows everywhere but some of it (with blue in it?) goes bad and turns people into zombies. I think the woman’s name was Cassandra or Cassie but maybe not.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Where and when did you read this? Do you remember the cover art?
    – DavidW
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 10:23
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    Some of the core of this is similar to The Last of Us (video game and TV series); the tainted government dropped food reminds me of Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner. No zombies in the latter, but there was a keratophagic plague that destroyed hair, nails, and corneas (resulting in a billion or so blind outcasts).
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 11:07
  • Probably not goodreads.com/en/book/show/54350704
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield.


Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Having no idea how many weeks have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished. And with her, nearly all of civilization.

Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters -- people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.

In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety.

For the Beaters are out there.

And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world.

The heroine is Cass Dollar so her first name is as you remembered. The little girl is Ruthie.

After bioterrorism destroyed most of the world's food crops the government developed a plant called kaysev that produced nutritious seeds, and they distributed the seeds via airdrops. However a blue variety of the plant caused people who ate it to become zombie like creatures called Beaters.

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