Anise Hunt lives in a world moments from our own -- a world that has suffered an eternity of anguish. It is a world where a terrible virus has corrupted humanity's genes, bringing a slow and agonizing death to the young as their parents watch in agony. But not everyone has become infected with the virus, and those who are free from it live in another world entirely -- a world of prosperity and ease. Anise's genes are normal. Orson Denvers, a rich young man with impeccable genes, is set to usher Anise into a loveless marriage -- until the night she runs away. And where can she run? Only one place: into the ghetto of the genetic degenerates.