Maxine “Max” Redford is a fifteen-year-old girl living in San Diego. She lives to game, although only her tribe knows she’s secretly the virtual gaming superstar, Spirit, who’s tearing up The Alley and leaving misogynistic trolls whimpering in “his” wake. She’s got a problem with rules and authority, which only partially explains her love for ‘60s retro clothing. She loves nothing better than to strap on her blades and go exploring… but just in cyberspace, where weak ankles, a non-existent sense of balance and a fear of pain mean about as much as how old you are or what you look like in real life.
Melissa is Max’s best friend. When she was twelve years old living in an orphanage, Melissa tracked down her real parents by hacking into hospital databases, credit reports and police files. Now she lives with her dad and runs a cyber-detective agency that helps other kids find their own birth parents. As Melissa says, “If everything about everyone is in some computer somewhere, than nobody can stay missing for long in cyberspace.” She dresses Goth, loves pizza with anchovies and garlic like Max, sucks at sports, and thinks Boo Boo Kitty has sucked ever since Aleks replaced Blaize on drums.
From the outside, Flak looks like just another cookie-cutter, pretty boy blonde blader infesting San Diego. But to those he lets get past his carefully crafted persona, like Max, he’s an inspired artist and programmer with a hacker’s love for getting into places he shouldn’t and pushing at the edges of the possible. His games give new meaning to the concept of total immersion, and his creations (like Melissa’s black leopard Ozymandias) blur the line between what’s real and what’s virtual.