Emma Webster is the victim of a brutal assault. Because of the resulting terror, she spends two years as a self-sentenced prisoner locked inside her condo, living a lonely but safe existence - at least she thought it was safe until the world outside her window goes silent.
Troy Nanson, a bicycle messenger, awakens in a hospital with an excruciating headache, but she has no memory of how she was injured or how long she has been there. When her calls for help go unanswered, Troy leaves her bed to search for hospital staff members, only to find them unconscious in the hospital lounge. They have pulses and are breathing, but she cannot rouse them. Are they comatose, drugged? In a trance-induced sleep? She calls 911, but no one answers. As she explores downtown Portland, Oregon, Troy's suspicions are confirmed - the rest of the world has fallen asleep, and nothing she does will wake them. Fear and desperation cause Troy's tenuous grip on reality to slip. She's ready to give up, but then she finds Emma.
Believing they are the only people awake in the entire world, these two women who are as different from each other as they could possibly be, come to depend on one another to find their way through the insanity that surrounds them. Their initial need for simple companionship turns into an attraction that they are just beginning to explore when Troy stumbles across evidence that results in some startling realizations.
There are at least two other people still awake in Portland, but one of them is a murderer. Can Troy and Emma find a way to outsmart the killer, or will they, too, become those who NEVER WAKE?