Welcome to New London, one of the few urban centers to which the entirety of the earth's population has been gathered. It's also home to the Icarus Project, a system of seven habitats, by which the lowest of mankind may rise to the top if his wit, drive, and self-discipline can get him there. Oh, and he must be physically perfect in every way. Those who don't pass these criteria sink quickly to the bottom, ending up in New London's inner core and certain destruction.
Robert Mayew is just one of those who has managed to climb to the outer habitats. In a city that prides itself on enjoying vice to its greatest extent, even Robbie has a reputation as a bad boy. When he attaches himself to Alfred Newell, Emaline decides something must be done. Alfred is destined for great things, but Mr. Mayhew is a bad influence and one that must be stopped before he brings Alfred, and perhaps the entire family, down with him.
As the quality control agent for New London's premier bordello, Robbie finds that the sheltered Emaline may be his ticket to the top. As an innocent trying to navigate the dangers of New London, Emaline finds that Robbie, with his vast understanding of the Project's inner workings, may be her best chance at discovering the truth.
With Emaline by his side, will Robbie realize his dream of becoming an Elite? Or will their discoveries-and the fact that he is disguising a fatal flaw-prove the destruction of everything and everyone around them?