Rebecca Riggs, age 15.
Rebecca is the only child of “Pastor Mike” and Alison Riggs. She’s far too young to remember life before the “Scourge” and the “Revival.” She’s a preacher’s kid in New America, run by the New America Unity Church—and as such, she’s been trained in Tae Kwon Do, rifles, and handguns. It wasn’t until her baptism at the age of twelve that she began to question the world in which she’s grown up, and to understand that her parents—and everyone else—have kept secrets from her.
As the story begins, Rebecca’s been caught skipping school, and her father has enrolled her for re-education at Second Salvations—where “The Forgottens” of New America are sent to be remade … or destroyed.
But Rebecca’s mother has other plans, which will soon set into motion a chain of events that will shake New America to its core—and, unwittingly, place Rebecca in the worst danger of her life.
Fun fact not included in the book: among artifacts that lie hidden in Rebecca’s attic is an old yearbook which shows that her father attended the same high school as Matthew Black, “The Reverend” of Angel Island who so badly wants to recruit Rebecca to his cause.
Daniel Forester, age 16.
Faithless. Outcast. Daniel attends school knowing he will never go to college. Ineligible for sports or even for after-school clubs, he’d rather work. His family, such as it is, needs money—badly. His mother has lost her job at Corner Grocery. His father, arrested for sedition, lies in a prison infirmary, wasting away after seven years of forced labor in a chemical refinery.
Like everyone else, however, Daniel has taken the Solomon Test required of all sixteen-year-olds, and the results—unknown to himself—have drawn the attention of a recruiter from the Second Salvations camp at Angel Island. All Daniel knows, as agents of the New America Unity Church move in on him, is that the time has come to play along, to join the “faithful” before he and his mother find themselves out on the street, or worse.
He’s in a unique position to be manipulated, to be set up for a crime that he will have no choice other than to commit. And the leadership of his local parish is only too happy to assist with this endeavor. One does not say “no” to Second Salvations.
Especially when it comes to a godless little heretic like Daniel.
Meet The Dogcatcher, "DC" for short. He never goes by his real name, and he doesn't make friends. He's a cop with interstate authority, one of only twelve "collectors" on the east coast of New America. Ruthless and practical, DC is not known for seeing the big picture, only the job--and his job is very simple: acquisitions. When Angel Island needs to bring in new campers ...against their will, the call goes out.
At age 40, DC is a God-fearing man, in his own way. He understands that what he does is wrong, that the program at Angel Island is wicked to the core, but he has his own concerns--and a higher allegiance that he believes justifies his actions. He has a wife and two daughters.There is no changing the world in which he lives. He must "ride it" for the benefit of his family, and not think too hard on what that might mean to ... well, everyone else.
Ruth Black, wife of the Reverend Matthew Black, is his boss. She manages not only the adoptions and parent referrals at Angel Island, but also identifies those prospects whose potential has been revealed through Solomon Testing. When a child is selected, it's Ruth's responsibility to see that they retain no ties to their old lives, that they arrive at her island home free of the encuberances of family, friends, and all other societal ties.
At twenty-nine, Ruth has been married to The Reverend for seven years--and she hates him. Like so many other young women in New America, her marraige had been pre-arranged, and she finds her husband both simple minded and repugnant. He is useful, however, as a conduit to power. Ruth has lofty ambitions and nothing but time. She is patient and calculating. In the end, she knows that the Lord will reward her for those qualities.
As the story begins, Ruth and DC have set out to acquire two of the most "promising" prospects they have ever encountered. Little do they imagine how difficult one of those prospects will be to actually acquire ...
Second Salvations has eleven facilities throughout New America, but none of them has the reputation of Angel Island. This is the cornerstone of the new government, the training ground of the new crusade. Lording over it we find Matthew Black, whose mission it is to instruct the young in the depths and totality of Christ’s suffering upon the cross. His personal mission for his young charges is simple: absolution through penance and blood.
He does not see the application of this lesson to the larger world, although his wife does. He only wants to exact the will of God upon the flock given him. He enjoys the stage that it affords him, too, the captive audience—the opportunity to frighten and mystify the children in his care with his three sets of false teeth, which he changes out for various occasions …
Fun fact for the loyal reader: Matthew Black’s first appearance in my books is not, in fact, THE SALVATION STATE. He appeared as a much younger person in A DEVIL IN DAYLIGHT, wherein we learn the origin and truth of his dental … difficulties.