The year is 2047 and an asteroid is slowly hurtling through space on a direct path to Earth. Impact is expected on November 18, 2048 at 2:47 pm, EST. The impact is predicted to create an Extinction Level Event (ELE) and either destroy all known life on the planet or create a nuclear winter, at best. The fate of all life on Earth depends on the intervention of the space-faring, long lost descendants of an ancient Earth continent known as Atlantis.
The Atlanteans fled Earth 12,000 years ago when their continent was destroyed by an unknown cataclysmic event that sank the entire continent into the ocean. They eventually colonized a planet in a system situated in area of the Constellation of Pegasus. What once was thought of as myth has become a fact. Atlantis was real.
However, there’s a catch. The Atlanteans can only rescue 10 million individuals and resettle them on the new planet, named Atlantis after their original continent on Earth. And these 10 million individuals must be young people aged 12-20. In order to reserve a coveted spot aboard one of the 2,000 ark ships, the teens must pass certain criteria or qualify.
Enter 16 year old Gwenevere (Gwen) Lark, a self-proclaimed nerd, geek, and all-around klutz, who as our narrator provides a unique perspective as she goes through the three stages to earn her spot on one of the ark ships. Gwen is the oldest daughter of Charles and Margot Lark and has three siblings – George, 17, Gordon (Gordie), 14, and Grace (Gracie), 12. Together the children are known as the four Gee’s. Gwen and her family relocated to Vermont where her father is a classics and history professor at the local university. Her mother is a former operatic singer who can no longer perform due to developing lung cancer caused by coastal radiation when the family lived in California. Gwen is an excellent student; however, as an individual focused on academia and avoiding most physical activity, she has few friends and is often the fodder for bullies.
The qualification process has three stages. Stage One, pre-qualification, takes place at Gwen’s school. After an arduous series of tests given throughout the day, Gwen learns she and her three siblings qualify to the next stage and board a school bus to a site where training will commence for that next phase. Unfortunately, Gwen’s best friend does not pass this initial phase. However, her secret heartthrob and long-time crush, Logan Sangre does.
Upon arriving at the Regional Qualification Center 3 (RQC-3) in Pennsylvania, Gwen and her siblings discover they are to be separated into different quadrants and dormitories. The Atlanteans have four distinct cornerstone philosophies or quadrants – red, yellow, blue, and green. Red (Gracie) embodies passion, aggression, anger, force, energy, and drive. Yellow (Gwen) embodies creativity, originality, curiosity, and inspiration. Blue (Gordie) embodies leadership, control, reason, and analysis. Green (George) embodies endurance, patience, resistance, and strength. Each of these quadrants also specializes in a different weapon – Red swords, Yellow nets and cords, Blue firearms, and Green shields.
Gwen makes several new friends among the other candidates at the RQC-3 including Laronda Aimes, Dawn Williams, Hasmik Tigranian, and Blayne Dubois. She also faces the wrath of a few bullies including Claudia Grito, Wade Ruthers, and Derek Sunder. Logan Sangre, Gwen’s secret long-time crush, begins to show an interest in her and soon they become a couple. Gwen’s fantasy of the perfect boyfriend has come true … or has it?
Training at the RQC-3 is grueling, especially the physical activities involved in Agility and Combat. In Atlantis Tech class Gwen learns that Atlantean technology is based on sound and a mysterious element called orichalcum. During a session in Atlantis Culture class Gwen learns about the Atlantis Grail, an ancient monument erected in the city of Poseidon, and an annual event called the Games of the Atlantis Grail, the winners of which become full citizens and have all their wishes granted. Gwen is determined to enter and win this event to save her parents and cure her mom’s cancer, but first she must qualify.
During Gwen’s first combat class we meet Command Pilot Aeson Kass, who is second in command of the fleet and wears a mysterious black armband on his left bicep. The other Atlantean instructors wear quadrant based colored armbands on their left biceps – Oalla Keigeri wears yellow, Keruvat Ruo wears blue, Xelio Vekahat wears red, and Erita Qwas wears green. These five individuals are elite star pilots known as astra daimon – the best of the best.
Two notable things happen to Gwen during the first few day of training at the RQC-3. First, she earns the nickname “Shoelace Girl” with her fast and creative thinking during Combat class. And second, she saves the life of Aeson Kass by safely landing his out of control shuttle using only her voice.
The shuttle incident is determined to be sabotage by one of the Earth anti-Atlantean terrorist groups and through some bizarre coincidences Gwen is arrested. However, Gwen is allowed to prove her claim by successfully raising and lowering a shuttle, and learns she has a rare gift – the Logos Voice, thought extinct on the planet Earth. Although still suspecting her involvement with the sabotage, Aeson Kass decides to privately tutor Gwen in several voice techniques to help her qualify.
Stage Two ends with the Semi-Finals. Gwen chooses Los Angeles as her destination and faces numerous challenges and ordeals, some of which are deadly. Her creative thinking skills as Shoelace Girl help her face each task as well as help others to qualify to the next stage. Badly injured, Gwen manages to succeed to Stage Three.
Healed by the advanced Atlantean medical technology, Gwen awakens at the National Qualification Center (NQC) in Colorado, where all American candidates are now housed. The number of qualified candidates has been greatly reduced during the semi-finals. Gwen’s three siblings, several friends including her boyfriend, Logan, and a few of the bullies are all in Colorado with her.
Gwen is cleared of all suspicion of sabotage when the guilty parties, who did not qualify, confess. Training continues in the areas of Agility, Combat, Culture, and Technology along with an additional class in Water Survival and Swimming. Gwen also continues with her private one-on-one tutoring sessions with Aeson Kass. Although the training sessions are grueling, Gwen and her friends do find time to have some fun. One such event is a birthday part in which Gwen receives shoelaces from all her friends and a few others whose lives she saved during the semi-finals.
Just before boarding the shuttle to transport her team to the site for the Finals, Oalla Keigeri has a little chat with Gwen and reveals a few interesting facts – that Aeson Kass is, in fact, Aeson Kassiopei, the Imperial Crown Prince of Atlantida, and she matters to him. The Finals is an exhausting hover board race through subterranean tunnels deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Gwen manages to not only survive this race, but to save the lives of all her team members when one of the ancient lift gates gets stuck.
Gwen, Logan, and her siblings reach one of the shuttles in orbit and several of her friends board others. However, one of Gwen’s siblings does not qualify and is not allowed to board. Heartbroken, Gwen becomes determined to find a way to save not only her parents, but her sibling left behind.