In the wake of a global catastrophe, Max Blau, a seventeen-year-old orphan, moves to Ohio, a privileged Reserve that is based on gifted family groups. Everything seems idyllic in this new society, as its inhabitants are highly intelligent. In addition, each person has a special gift, a function, a mission.
Max's problem is that he is a fake who has come to Ohio taking over the identity of the real Max Blau, a boy he met outside the Reserve and whose murder he witnessed. Our main character cannot keep hiding for long. They soon ask him to use his gifts of divination to help defend the Reserve from a group from the north that is approaching Ohio with the intention of conquering it and wiping out its inhabitants.