Tolan (Save Halloween!, 1993, etc.) weaves the themes of adolescent alienation, the transcendent power of cooperation, and the threat of social disintegration in this tautly constructed work of science fiction. The aptly named heroine, Miranda, lives in a brave new world set only three years in the future, yet frighteningly familiar to today's teens. Against a backdrop of terrorist attacks, high-school shoot-outs, and militia stand-offs, teens struggle to gain control of their personal worlds, even as their families splinter. Considered a ""baby genius,"" Miranda is committed to a mental hospital for what her parents consider growing irrationality. She and her fellow inmates soon realize they share a common fate. Dr. Noah and his colleague and wife, Abigail, recognize that while Miranda and the others are troubled, they are also truly gifted. Under the auspices of their ""Ark"" project, they enable Miranda, Doug, Elijah, and Taryn to reach out via computer networks and other means to children and teenagers around the world. While countries shatter into warring fragments, the group establishes a level of sensitivity most adults never realize, tools that ultimately ensure the survival of the human race. Frightening and grim, a sophisticated tale of redemption.