Brian is the only active character in the story. Two pilots appear briefly (one whose death strands Brian and one who rescues him) at the beginning and end of the novel. Brian's parents are mentioned frequently but are present only when their son remembers them.
Brian is a typical adolescent at the start of the novel. He is unremarkable physically and intellectually. What he knows of life comes from attending school, playing with friends, watching television, going to the movies, reading magazines, and listening to his parents. He is also typical because his parents, like a large number of married couples in the 1980s and 1990s, are divorced. The one untypical thing about him is his possession of the Secret, the awareness of his mother's lover. Brian saw them kiss in a car parked at the mall.
Yet Brian proves surprisingly resilient in the wilderness. Having to bear the Secret has made him unexpectedly self-reliant. From books, television shows, and games, he recalls tidbits of information about finding food, building shelter, or understanding animal behavior. They are his reference volumes for dealing with the present and the unexpected. He reinvents ways to accomplish the most routine, unconscious tasks such as telling time and marking days. From parents and teachers he remembers advice and motivational slogans: "You are the best asset you have." Although Brian's predicament seems overwhelming—he is alone, without any supplies except a hatchet, lost...
(The entire section is 490 words.)