Marion is having a truly terrible day. A homeless boy stuck inside the sealed confines of Greater New York City, he made the one mistake that he swore he would never make: he slept late. And with that single misstep his life is forever upended. Caught in the crush of rush hour subway traffic, Marion is launched upon a journey that will carry him from the streets of Manhattan to the highest reaches of the Build.
From the lowest rung of New York’s multilevel edifice, Marion is pushed inexorably toward the unseen surface, thousands of meters overhead. Driven by forces seemingly beyond his control, he becomes embroiled in a growing riot, and soon finds himself thrown together with a beautiful, beguiling stranger named Allison Rayel. A GNYC native and perpetually disgruntled government contractor, Allison slams into Marion at the riot site, and finds her life unexpectedly intertwined with his. They are brought together to Corrections, where minor offenders are dispatched to the Garden, source of the city’s produce, and everyone else is incarcerated, sealed off in solitary confinement units that rarely see the artificial light of day.
Following an unplanned (and wholly improvised) prison break, Marion and Allison move ever higher, riding atop a swift-moving Lift to reach the meticulously recreated Hamptons, where the fugitives are temporarily sheltered by Bernard Moody, a kindly minister who had befriended Marion in the city. Soon enough, however, the pair’s temporary respite ends, as Bernard’s brother Ian, a wealthy financier, begins to suspect their true identities.
From that moment on, Marion and Allison have little choice but to run. Pursued by Ian Moody, a phalanx of corrections officers, and a powerful state government fixer named Vance Devereaux, they slowly advance from level to level, scaling heights — and discovering secrets — that few ever knew existed.
With each stumbling step upward, the unlikely couple grow ever closer, their emotional connection forged in an escalating series of deadly challenges.
Striving to escape, yet knowing full well that the world outside the Build is filled with merciless Brightlanders, Marion and Allison move toward the surface with both excitement and trepidation, unsure of what they might find. What they find, ultimately, is both nothing and everything — the mysterious wisps of an entirely different life.