In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis's parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there's no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents, telekinesis, and telepathy, who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, 'like the roach motel,' Kalisha says. 'You check in, but you don't check out.' In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts.
Two roads lead to Mount Hope. None leads out. There's no place to run in a community that's been taken--and is being intentionally kept--off the grid. A small southern town was evacuated after a freak power-plant accident. As the first anniversary of the mishap approaches, some residents are allowed to return past the national guard roadblocks. Mount Hope natives Maggie and Jordan quickly discover that their hometown is not as it was before. Downed cellular networks fail to resume service. Animals savagely attack humans. And the damaged power plant, where Jordan's father is an engineer, is under military lockdown. As friends and family morph into terrifying strangers, the Maggie and Jordan increasingly turn to each other. Their determination to discover who--or what--has taken control of Mount Hope soon has them in the cross-hairs of a presence more sinister than any they could have imagined.--