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Until the academy recruiters found her, 16-year-old Emily Ruff was just a streetwise San Francisco three-card Monte hustler. Her new handlers recognized that her uncanny talent for persuasion made her an ideal candidate for their exclusive school, which specialized not in math or history, but in controlling people's minds. Her descent into the strange world of warring secret agents who call themselves Poets is only half the story: At its opposite pole is carpenter Wil Clarke, who wakes up in an airport being questioned by strangers. Max Barry's new satire/thriller balances both elements so cunningly that it's difficult to tell which element will gain dominance.