Rae Greenberg is a newly 21-year-old double major in history and literature, a vegetarian, a sorta-girlfriend to a frat boy, and the daughter and roommate of a helicopter mother. Just as her plans to save up money from her summer internship to get out of Mrs. Greenberg’s house seem like they’re getting off the ground, an ill-timed cigarette break sends them straight to Hell, literally. After getting struck by lightning, Rae finds herself in a version of the Inferno that has been remodeled a few times since Dante’s day, where Lucifer has escaped and the elevator only goes one direction: down. And since she starts out assigned to the Eighth Circle, she only has so far to go. Since she is assigned a room with her mother and has Stalin and Castro for neighbors on that level, however, the Ninth - with a crazed nun who fancies herself in charge, Judas Iscariot planning a takeover, and the Devil’s first lieutenant Astaroth trying to keep a lid on the madness - looks better all the time.
Rae must navigate the layers of her new afterlife while she helps restore balance to the underworld. Along the way, she befriends the poet Virgil, shares a cigarette with Jean-Paul Sartre, breaks her addiction to her boyfriend’s Facebook, and gets Sigmund Freud’s help understanding her mother’s point of view, coming to see that her new home isn’t as hellish as it first appears.