In the distant future, humanity is at war with a group of merciless bugs and a group of young, rookie soldiers travel to the planet Klendathu to battle the arachnid threat.
Johnny Rico is a high school senior in Buenos Aires about to graduate and figure out what he is going to do with his life. His girlfriend, Carmen Ibanez, and his best friend, Carl Jenkins, are also graduating from high school and are going through the same problems as Johnny.
Carmen has decided she wants to enlist in military service in order to gain upper-class citizenship. “Citizenship” is highly regarded in this future society and it seems to be the goal of most young people coming out of high school. Carl, a telepath, is also going to enlist and hopefully earn his citizenship.