Connor is an independent, impulsive sixteen year old. His tendency to act without thinking gives him a rugged charm but also gets him into a lot of trouble. His parents have decided to have him unwound. Connor chooses to flee and even manages to shoot a cop with his own tranquilizer pistol, which earns him a measure of anonymous fame as the Akron AWOL.

On paper, Connor is a deviant and has a dim future ahead. Yet among the unwinds, Connor is actually a compassionate kid who struggles to think before acting. Through his relationship with Risa, Connor learns to trust his instincts rather than his impulses. He learns to make decisions after considering all the options. Because of this, Connor becomes a leader and, ultimately, the hero of the novel.


In many ways, Risa is a foil to Connor. Where Connor acts without thinking, Risa always considers the options. Having grown up in a State Home, 15-year-old Risa has learned that she can best protect herself by analyzing the situations in which she finds herself. Although Risa is at first eager to escape from Connor’s influence, she comes to admire and even love him. Like Connor, Risa is a compassionate and talented youth. In addition to playing piano, she is a natural medic, and she willingly sacrifices herself to save the Admiral.


Lev’s story is quite different from that of Connor and Risa. Thirteen-year-old Lev is intelligent, athletic, and loved by his deeply devout family. However, he is a tithe and will be unwound. Thanks to Pastor Dan’s counseling, Lev is able to accept that he will be tithed and willingly departs for the Harvest Center. When Connor rescues Lev from the freeway, Lev is at first outraged that he has been robbed of his holy destiny as a tithe. However, Pastor Dan tells Lev to run while he still can. Having been raised to believe that tithing is God’s will, Lev is confused about his identity and purpose. Lev’s internal conflict is perhaps the most complex one in the novel, and he carries the spiritual...

(The entire section is 854 words.)