In future America, now divided into Appalachia and Outside, bounty hunters viciously pursue those who break the rules of Appalachia or try to reach the guarded borders of Outside. In this treacherous, fundamentalist society --- in some ways similar to FAHRENHEIT 451 --- those caught learning to read or possessing books, particularly Bibles, are sentenced to years in prison-type factories, regardless of age. A tracking chip embedded in each prisoner makes escape nearly impossible. But, as in all things, there are those who find a way.
Young Caitlyn has been raised in Appalachia, but not because her scientist father agrees with the religion and politics of that nation. His motives for keeping her away from Outside are unveiled as the novel progresses. Due to mysterious circumstances, the time has come for Caitlyn to leave Appalachia with, she assumes, her Papa. The book begins with the first part of a letter written by Caitlyn's Papa, the only one who ever loved her, the only one who never saw her as a freak.
I do not regret the price I paid for my love for you. But I do regret what it has cost you, all your life. And I have never stopped regretting all that I've kept hidden from you. My confession begins with how I deceived you the day after your sixth birthday. You may still believe that we went to the surgeon to help the dove, the one you named Angel.
It was a lie. If only that were the worst of my sins…
Caitlyn's long, thin arms, covered with coarse hair, are hidden by the cloak that covers the hump between her shoulder blades. But none of that tears at her heart like the words in the letter she holds in her claw-like fingers, words that mean her Papa betrayed her and has left her to escape to Outside on her own. But escape from whom? And why? With bloodhounds close on her trail, she has little time to ponder the answers.
As Caitlyn follows the directives in the letter and travels through rugged terrain, she encounters another fugitive --- a boy so determined to escape the horrific factory imprisonment that he cut the computer chip out of his own body. Together they outwit their pursuers, but only for a while. Eventually Caitlyn is caught by an infamous bounty hunter named Mason, who is more than happy to use any means of torture on