Although from a small indie press, this book was better than I originally thought it might be, and better than the first few chapters. It was a good PA SF book, with the earth divided in factions, the Unified party, which has tried to control what is left of the US after some “bombs”, red ones, were dropped on the cities, and caused death and major climate change. Blaming it on terrorists, the US bombed out most of the middle east and eastern-europe in retaliation, even though they never claimed credit. So what was left wasn’t much. Canada managed to build a few cities up in the polar regions as the world became hot to live in easily. And after the bombs, green globes began to fall, called Pearls. They luckily found that these “pearls”could be harnessed as an energy source, and so they became sought after. Many of the original US inhabitants, who didn’t like the autocratic ways of the Unified Party, left and established themselves in starships, around the earth in low earth orbit. Called Skyshippers, these people lived and worked up there under a treaty drawn up after a series of mini wars broke out. But they too need pearls and send teams of young trained people down to the surface and retrieve them, hopefully before the Unified Party does. The third main group are the Fringers, those who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the environmental tax to live in the “chosen cities”, which had a pearl powered bio-net around them that allowed for air and temperature control, and made living nice. These people lived in the hot, dry dusty wastelands, making a living scrounging off the land, and trading. The Unified Party also had people who would go out after the Pearls. The Fringers, if they found the Pearls, would barter with the Skyshippers for food and rations, etc.
At the heart of this story is a misfit named Jesse, who can’t seem to excel at the academy where he is being trained for missions. He isn’t great at the games, trials, schoolwork, etc. He’s a bit of a slacker. But in his first raid to the surface, he meets up with a Unified Party member, a boy about his age. Something extraordinary happens during that encounter that changes the future of both boys, as they rush to figure out what happened and why suddenly they are important to all. A good read, and some nice SF twists that were unexpected. I truly enjoyed it and hope for more in the series.