Seventeen-year-old Io Calypso thinks of her life inside the domed luxury of the Maverick Institute for Advanced Thought as a drudgery of lessons and yawn-worthy boys, who'd rather fiddle with nano-electronics and spew theorems than abseil the desert cliffs with her. But on the humiliating day she is sanctioned for one act of rebellion too many, Io discovers there are far more terrible ways to exist. For it is the day a Maverick accident thrusts humanity to the brink of extinction. Fleeing the disaster with fourteen survivors, Io subsists in a pod deep below ground, vacuum-shielded from the pollution and disease decimating overland. One year on, still grieving the loss of her family, she sneaks back to their abandoned birthplace with stolen medical records, fearing for the health of her grandmother and sole remaining relative: bossy Pod-Commander Phi. It is then Io spots the miraculous runner, whose arrival is the thread unravelling the lies she's been told. And if the accident was sabotage, and others endured -- dare she believe it -- could her brother live still? If that's the case, Io plans to retrieve him. Finally, her ridiculed physical gifts in a place where the intellect reigns, may just give her the upper fist.