Maybe it's because I'm a parent but I was emotionally invested in this story and the little unnamed boy (later called Benson) from the beginning. I had to find out what happened to him! So many gut-wrenching scenes and decisions, by both the boy and his parents, that had to be made kept that investment growing, too.David Estes has created a dark and somber setting of a world that slowly unfolds to reveal a future Earth with critically limited resources. Extreme solutions have been put in place to ensure those resources are enough to support an optimally sized population. Procreation is rigidly controlled and mistakes are ruthlessly eliminated.
Benson is one of those errors, and his family does what it can to hide and protect him from discovery. Eventually he is hidden in plain sight among the masses of the reorganized capitol of St. Louis where he meets other "unauthorized" individuals, and becomes the target of the human-cyborg teenage hunter that never seems to stop. The author develops cool and plausible technology in this future, and uses it to advance the story in interesting ways. The action is constant with no dull moments.I look forward to continuing the story in the next book, GRIP.