"'A fragment of my Mom's dress in my hands. A floral print that I remember. It never ends.'"

Natalie, a brilliant young computer science student, is raped by a footballer at their college. Familiar with trauma since her parents' death, this latest tragedy triggers her usual response: disappearance. She hacks into government sites to change her identity, outs her attacker to the news, and escapes. She and Mario, a mentor hacker she befriends online, meet in the Sierras. Over hikes, confessions, and self-defense training, they fall in love. But their safety dissolves when Mario's enemies locate them. Natalie hides out in Seattle, then joins the military, deployed to Iraq, where she is further traumatized by war and more predatory men. Her wizard-like computer skills afford her a way out of the troubled country. Working at a firm outside of Washington, D.C., she follows a trail of damning evidence, exposing the man behind her greatest personal loss and that of many others.

As the book dives into a dark conspiratorial world, Natalie rises into a sophisticated young woman. Natalie's initial wariness of people is reflected in writing brimming with biting assessments of everyone she meets. Vivid descriptions of the settings—the Sierra wilderness, Seattle haunts, and Iraqi battlegrounds—show Natalie's animal alertness to her surroundings and heighten suspense for readers. The author's use of astute and witty dialogue enhances the narrative as Natalie interacts with fellow outlier hackers and learns more about the men stalking her. The protagonist gains the strength to step out of her shell. The second half of the book focuses on physical and online strategies to bring down a complex web of collusion between businessmen and government bureaucrats that rings chillingly true set against the 2007-2008 financial crisis and ongoing wars in the Middle East. This challenge emboldens Natalie, now a full-bodied heroine, whose fateful journey inspires women and men to tackle wrongdoing, no matter how big.

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