Workers developing alternative energy sources on the "unpopulated" planet Virimund have discovered an island inhabited by a group of ferocious children and, against all interplanetary agreements, they've brought one back to Earth. Isabel Burke, a priest and anthropologist recruited to serve as the wild child's guardian, discovers that Oa has been subjected to interminable medical examinations and is being kept in isolation. ExtraSolar doctors learn that Oa does not age and see the child as a key to priceless scientific discovery. Isabel calls in friend and former lover Simon Edwards, a director in the World Health Organization, to help rescue Oa. What seems a simple act catapults Isabel, Simon and Oa into extreme danger in the far reaches of space.

Isabel is an extraordinary character, torn between faith and love, duty and sacrifice. Oa is also a fascinating creation: a young girl who has lived more than a century but remains a child. Marley describes this futuristic Earth with just enough detail to bring it alive without overwhelming the reader. An exploration of the mysteries and complications of being human disguised as a science-fiction adventure, this is a novel not to be missed. (May, 336 pp., $23.95)
Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum