Set in the same world as Justin Sayre's previous books, Husky and Pretty, Mean explores the private and public life of Ellen, who is confident, cool, and, according to Davis, mean. But if speaking the truth and being unconcerned with petty gossip makes you mean, Ellen is fine with that. Besides, she has her own issues to deal with as middle school becomes a virtual battlefield of pubescent zombies, not unlike the obstacles in the video games she loves to play. Escaping into the world of online video games provides only temporary relief. In time she learns that being honest, even when it hurts, is the only weapon she can truly rely on.