I don't remember a ton about the story, but this is the general gist of it.

The book is set in the near future, like the 2090s or so. The protagonist is a boy around the age of 19, who has a single mother and (I think) 5 younger siblings, and is barely scraping by, often stealing food in order for his family to eat. They live in a city, I think either DC or Chicago.

The protagonist ends up getting caught by the super strict government, and is initially meant to be sent to a mining planet of some sort for his sentence. Instead, he ends up being enlisted, for one reason or another, in a military training program or something in space. In this program he is put on a team and gets a chip implanted in his head against his will, that does things like give him extensive knowledge of fighting and... space stuff.

After being sent on a mission or two his team ends up going rogue and has to try and evade pretty much everyone. I remember one part where they are at this space mall/gas station thing, where they end up encountering another team and have to fight them.

I don't remember how the story ends, but I know that there was a whole sort of romance thing going on between the protagonist and one of the other members of his team.

Any and all help trying to find this book is greatly appreciated. :)

  • In roughly which year did you read this? Commented May 13 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


In the Depths of Darkness by Sean Fletcher.

In the Depths of Darkness

The year is 2119. Earth is a crowded, ugly shell of its former self, surrounded by numerous alien races and protected by the oppressive Earth Alliance.

When Alyx Starburn is arrested for stealing food, he's given a choice: join a new branch of the Earth Alliance, created to rehab convicts like him into the service, or rot in a quarry on a backwater planet a thousand light-years away. It isn't a hard decision, and he quickly finds himself in basic training with three other outcasts, each with secrets that put his life in danger.

But Alyx discovers they've been chosen as the unsuspecting test subjects of an advanced neural Chip; a Chip capable of turning them into elite soldiers. If they survive the implantation process. Those who do will spearhead the EA's conquest for galactic domination. Alyx and his team have barely come out of the procedure before they're blamed for murders they didn't commit and find themselves on the run, searching for somewhere—anywhere—safe.

The summary on Goodreads mentions the chip, and the book starts:

A high-pitched cough came from behind me, like someone gagging on their tongue. I couldn’t blame them. We were crouched behind a dumpster in an alleyway, where the vendors from the Saturday market tossed their rotted food. The oppressive Dallas heat practically basted everything, and the scent clung to our skin as smelly sweat.

“We going, Alyx?” Skinner asked.

I glanced back to shush them. Eager, trusting, desperate eyes stared right back. A pang of guilt shot through me. Blast, they were too young to be doing this. But they needed the food as much as I did, and hunger had no age discrimination. All four of the kids, the adopted part of my family, were years younger than me, and they were slight and malnourished. Typical for where we lived. I’m normal sized for nineteen. Lucky, I guess

So just as you describe Alyx is nineteen and looking after a family of five, though the city is Dallas not DC or Chicago.

I found it by using Google to search the Goodreads site for caught stealing food military science fiction.

  • "Alyx Starburn" I wonder if the author was a fan of the show Community, or if thats just a wild coincidence. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – JMac
    Commented May 13 at 13:33

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