This, the first book in the Rissa Kerguelen series, is a brilliant story that was years ahead of its time. The prologue takes place right about now, in which total government control, alien coverups, and cloning add up to a bleak future for one Rissa Kerguelen. Her parents slain, separated from her brother, the five year old girl is put into a "Total Welfare Center", which is little more than slave barracks. Neglected, abused, and raped, the lonely girl grows up to win her way out of the Center via a lottery. Once out, she decides to go into hiding and get training to survive the Government which has almost total control over the planet earth. Making a valuble friend in Erika Hulzein, the heir to the survival training center, she leaves earth for a better future...and finds more adventure. Rissa is an inspirational feminist; smart, strong, quick, and able to fight for her self and beliefs. I found her to be a classic heroine, on par with Scarlett O'Hara. All in all a wonderful read, and make sure to check out the next 2 books in the series.