Ten years ago, Miranda created an artificial intelligence algorithm called C.I.T.R.U.S. Then, she walked away—from her career, her fiancé, and her family.
But when her sister disappears, Miranda is lured to Apex Island, an augmented-reality theme park now powered by the algorithm. As she unravels the park’s many secrets, Miranda begins to suspect that C.I.T.R.U.S. is more advanced—and her sister is in more danger—than she ever imagined.
Miranda’s sister is missing.
The fear is a slick curl in her stomach, a wave of nausea when she swallows. She moves through the doorways of her childhood home like a ghost out of place. Her hands tremble as they slide over dusty countertops and a tree branch taps at the window, and everything feels thin and unreal.
Your sister is missing, Dad texted last night. Miranda was on the other side of the country, in bed with a stranger—she can’t remember his name now, Carl or Carter, something like that—who wouldn’t shut up about finance podcasts.
The time between that first text and now is a smudge. An Uber to the airport. A standby flight, JFK to LAX. A tense car-ride with Dad to the house.
Only now, as she stands in the kitchen of the house in Los Rios, does she let the fear touch her, and all the small hairs behind her neck stand up.
Aria is missing. Most missing persons are found within forty-eight hours, according to the excessively useless officer at the Los Rios police station. And Aria is eighteen. Thirteen years younger than Miranda. An adult, legally, if not wholly.
Guilt presses Miranda’s lids closed for a brief moment; Aria’s eighteenth birthday had come and gone, and she’d forgotten.