My 14-year-old son loved this one! We had to request it from another library via "Interlibrary loan," but it was well worth the wait.
Setting: The year is 4182, somewhere in outer space. When we meet Daniel, his mind has been wiped and he's plopped back into his bunk. While all the grubs (other kids) around him recognize him, he has no idea who he is or how he got to this forsaken mining shaft. He re-meets Nails, a good friend who has, well, nails growing where hair should, and Blink, a steadfast friend.
The children are forced to mine for lost relics of an advanced civilization in the rock for the Overseers, a race of horrible, hideous creatures who make the boys disappear for the smallest infraction of their arbitrary rules. It has the feel of a Nazi concentration work camp, with the kids forced to mine every day with large animals called Trabasaurs, a sort of triceratops / ankylosaurus mix with bad tempers and clubs on their tails that are used to whale away at the rock. After sifting through the rubble, the boys are given only meager rations, wear tattered rags and sleep stacked in barracks. Escape is a distant dream, pushed out of their minds by the horrible prospect of being thrown in the pit.
But then Daniel actually finds a relic. It attaches itself to his chest. He can't get it off. But it also protects him, shielding him from the Overseer With it protecting him, he launches on a mad-cap escape from the mine to the surface and beyond as a stowaway on a Truth Seeker vessel where he learns the grubs are but pawns in a game of intergalactic war.
Can he convince the Truth Seekers to save his friends? Or will they believe the lies and the mis-truths of the evil Sinja, who will do anything to win this war -- including kidnapping and weaving children into their evil plot -- once and for all.