Adam has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair. He uses VR programs to escape reality. One day he is in his dad's office using one of his programs when a hacker named Sigma invades the program. Sigma tells him that since he is dying the government has selected for the Pioneer Project. Sigma exits the program just as his dad and Colonel Peterson return. Adam tells him about the hacker, and then asks his dad about the Pioneer Project. Just as his father begins to explain a big boom rocks the building. Adam, his dad, and the Colonel escape and his dad asks again who the hacker was. Adam tells him it was Sigma, his dad starts to tremble and uses and axe to cut the communication lines. It is to late though, as Sigma has escaped and gone into the Internet. Sigma is a AI program designed by his dad to be smarter than all other AI's, and was buried in the computer system of the Department of Defense. While Adam is recovering in the hospital he meets Shannon who was a year behind him in school. She gives him updates on Ryan Boyd, who was his best friend, and Brittany Taylor, the girl who he had a crush on. His mom bursts into the room crying because they are putting him in the Pioneer Project. He won't be Adam in the flesh anymore, he will become Adam in the machine. The next day they make their way to the Pioneer Base in Colorado. In an auditorium twelve teens and their parents are told the AI program Sigma has taken over a Russian lab along with missiles to defend the lab. Adam's dad then talks about the Pioneer Project and how they want to transfer everything that makes someone human into a robot body. The drawback to all of this is once the memories, emotions, intelligence, ect. is transferred the human body will die. Everyone is given two days to make their decision. As Adam rests at home his mom tells him she doesn't agree with what his father is doing. In her view he is playing God, and Adam in a robot body would take away his soul making Adam not Adam anymore. The next day his dad takes him to see Ryan after school gets out. Ryan is sorry for not keeping in touch, but he's had other things going on. Things begin to get heated between them and Ryan says he has to go. After this conversation Adam decides to be part of the project. Adam and his dad head back to Pioneer Base they encounter Shannon who has also decided to take part. Shannon introduces him to Jenny and DeShawn, two of the other volunteers. Later that night he meets the other two volunteers Marshall and Zia. Zia and Adam get off on the wrong foot as she thinks she should be first to have her mind transferred, and thinks Adam's dad is playing favorites. Adam's dad says he is going first because he knows Adam can handle it. The next day the procedures begin. Adam is panicked and confused after the transfer. When he spots his body he runs toward it, and seeing himself cold and gray makes him want to be human again. He is confined to quarters as his dad and the other scientists make sure the transfer has gone smoothly. Shannon tries to see him, but he won't let her in. A few days later Jenny begins her transfer. She is freaking out during the transfer and there is the risk of loosing her. Adam transfers himself into her Pioneer. He sees a memory of Jenny's brother locking her in a closet when she was two. Once he transfers the memory from her to him she calms down. Adam is present at the rest of the transfers in case he's needed to help like he did with Jenny. Once all the transfers are done the Pioneers head to the gym for training the next day. They are testing out the Pioneers by tossing a football around. When Zia comes into the gym she and Adam have words. She threatens him with the blowtorch she added. It is then General Hawke interrupts and says they are going to begin training. All the Pioneers go through an obstacle course to determine who becomes the leader of the group. Adam and Zia are the two who complete it, and the tiebreaker is a half-mile sprint. Zia wins by intercepting Adam's wireless sensors to make him feel pain. Zia is placed in charge and Adam is second in command. Shortly there after Adam is told Ryan has been kidnapped, and the General believes Sigma had human help. Adam wants to find this person and hurt them. He calms down by hanging out with Marshall and DeShawn. The next morning they learn how to transfer themselves to RQ-11 drones. Adam shows off a bit and Zia doesn't like it at all. After the exorcise Adam finds Jenny in his quarters and she wants the memory back. He gives it back and they spend time in another memory with human bodies. The next day they are to practice transferring to the Russian T-90 tank and practice driving and firing the gun. His dad finds him and says that they will be on a plane to Russia tonight to confront Sigma. Adam is shocked as General Hawke hasn't said a word to them at all. After the tank exorcise Zia orders them to practice transferring to their secondary Pioneers at different distances. When DeShawn figures out how to control both at once he gives the instructions to Adam. He dances to a Kanye West song. Zia comes over and isn't happy about him screwing around. She attacks him and he enters into Zia's Pioneer to stop her. While inside of Zia's Pioneer he sees a memo saying Ryan has been killed. When he exits Zia's Pioneer he sees she has damaged his main Pioneer beyond repair. Adam is angry at Hawke for keeping Ryan's death a secret. When he shoves the General in anger the General pulls out the Pioneer kill switch. Is this the end for Adam, and is the mission to confront Sigma in jeopardy?
I really enjoyed reading this book. I thought it was an interesting look at how humanity could preserve itself after the physical body dies. How many of us would jump at the opportunity to live forever even if it is in a robot body? This book also reminded me of the show Caprica where Dr. Daniel Graystone created the Cylons as part of a government defense contract. His daughter Zoe Graystone, a computer genius, created an avatar of herself in virtual reality with all of her memories and emotions. When she is killed in a terrorist bombing her avatar feels everything that happened. Zoe's avatar is captured by her father in virtual reality and downloaded into the first cylon. This is very similar to when Adam and the rest of the six are transferred into the Pioneer bodies. The difference is they went willingly while Zoe's avatar was forced into the cylon body.