Eve has been named valedictorian of her class. After her speech, she will lead her fellow graduates out of the walled compound of their school and cross the bridge to the trade school building. After a celebratory dinner, Eve notices that Arden, a fellow graduate and well known prankster, sneaking away from the others. She decides to follow and try and stop her from disturbing their special day. Eve sees Arden changing out of her school uniform into the attire of the guards. When Eve asks her why, Arden informs her that there is no trade school. The trade school building is just a baby making factory where all of the graduates essential become brood mares. Eve is horrified and watches Arden sneak into the back of a delivery truck and leave.
Later that evening after everyone else is sleeping; Eve is left wondering if Arden’s accusations are true. She sneaks out of the dormitory, slips past the guards and crosses the small lake to the trade school building. To her horror, Eve discovers that Arden was telling the truth. She crosses the lake once again and sneaks back into the dormitory only to be discovered by Teacher Florence. Always the obedient one, Eve admits what she discovered. To her surprise, Teacher Florence will help her escape but she must leave behind her friend Pip. Eve reluctantly agrees and just barely escapes with her life.
Eve is book smart, not street smart, and after one week on the run she finds herself tired and hungry. When she encounters a group of men who prove her former teachers correct, she hides in what turns out to be a mausoleum. Following Teacher Florence’s directions to Califica, a place where runaway orphans live, Eve soon comes across a town devastated by the plague. Smelling food at an abandoned house, Eve is desperate and makes herself known to the person inside. To her surprise and relief, Eve has stumbled upon Arden. Arden isn’t pleased to be saddled with Eve but eventually relents to let her tag along until she locates her parents. Arden was the one girl at school who wasn’t an orphan. The next morning, they split up to find food. Eve soon encounters a bear cub and unwittingly draws the mother bear’s wraith. To her good fortune, a young man on horseback comes to her aid. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Eve leaves with Caleb. She is weary to go with him but he laughs and promises her he isn’t interested in sexual intercourse. They eventually go back to find Arden.
Arden has had no luck hunting and is surprised that Eve has found a boy. Caleb caught three rabbits and both girls desperately agree to return to his camp with him before the skies threaten to downpour. After traveling a couple of hours in a downpour, they stumble upon a government jeep that begins chase. The three soon leave the road and dismount from the horse, but the jeep is still in pursuit. Eve thinks they are after Caleb but is horrified to learn she is their target. Caleb shows Eve the wanted poster for her with her graduation picture on it. It turns out Eve wasn’t headed to “trade school” after all. With her intelligence, the king wanted her for himself, for the production of an heir.
Can Eve escape from the king’s clutches and remain free to make her own choices? Do Arden and Eve stay together or go their separate ways? Where does Caleb fit in? And what exactly is Califica?
Absolutely loved this book and cannot wait for the next book in the series.
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