Charlie Martens is desperate for stability in an otherwise peripatetic life. An explosion that killed his parents when he was young robbed him of normalcy and he was shuttled from relative to relative, left alone to decipher the world he encountered in order to cobble together an answer as to how he would live. Ever the outcast, Charlie recognizes in Olivia, an international student from London, the sense of otherness he feels and their relationship seems to promise salvation. But when Olivia abandons him, his desperate mind fixates on her favorite writer, Vernon Downs, who becomes an emblem for reunion with Olivia. Charlie's quest takes him from Phoenix to New York City and when chance brings him into proximity to Vernon Downs, he quickly ingratiates himself into Downs's world. Proximity invites certain temptations, though, and it isn't long before Charlie moves dangerously from fandom to apprentice to outright possession.