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In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city's vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together they could return balance to both their worlds. As secrets are revealed and Isra's sight returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love. When nineteen-year-old Gem of the Desert People, called Monstrous by the Smooth Skins, becomes the prisoner of the seventeen-year-old Smooth Skin queen, Isra, age-old prejudices begins to fall aside as the two begin to understand each other.