A teen-ager considers his options--and learns their limits--in this danger-laden novel set in a terrifying, all-too-believable future. In the mid-21st century, rapidly moving glaciers have rendered most of the continent uninhabitable; the US capital is now Houston, and a decrepit megalopolis stretches along the Mexican border. When the Simpson family decides to leave the foul living conditions, rampant terrorism, and heat for an abandoned farm in Missouri, James (16), unwilling to give up his familiar comforts, stays behind with his friend Robert. But when Robert loses a foot to a terrorist bomb and a universal military draft is instituted, the two strike out north, exchanging one set of dangers for another--traveling crumbling roads through empty country in company with Sunny Shanahan, a cheery but unsavory drifter, and eventually reaching Missouri, where the summer is brief, the winter harsh, and the work unrelenting. Unable to adapt, Robert soon leaves for warmer climes, but James finds an aptitude for the new life. After surviving a vicious winter--during which he sees Sunny brought down by wild dogs and learns to like his aloof cousin, Judith--he's ready to face a bleak future. Blackwood paints a convincing picture of what could be in store for the future. His values, especially the rewards of hard work and country life, are clear in an adventure well enough told to carry the message.