In the coming centuries the world's population has exploded. People live cheek-by-jowl in sprawling concrete cities; most animals are extinct; and drought is so widespread that water is rationed. There are no maps, no borders, no numbered years, and no freedom, except for an elite few. It is a harsh world for an orphan girl like Nadia Stepan, whose bleak childhood is made bearable solely by dreams of a green vacation spot called Lighthouse Island that is rumored to exist in a faraway place called the Pacific Northwest. When an opportunity for escape arises, Nadia runs, embarking on a solitary, dangerous, and sometimes comic adventure. Along the way she meets a man who changes the course of her life: James Orotov, a mapmaker and demolitions expert who is deeply wounded in body and soul. Together, they evade arrest and head north toward a place of wild beauty that lies far beyond the megalopolis-the fabled sanctuary called Lighthouse Island.