Sam is of medium build with tanned skin, has brown hair and streaks of blonde, has sky blue eyes and is described as being quite handsome. Sam is also described as being, happy-go-lucky. Before the FAYZ, Sam lived in , CA with . Sam does not like his home, especially his bedroom. He remained under the social radar at school, not belonging to any clique, and having only one true friend, .
Sam first realizes he has the Power when he accidently burns off his stepfather's hand, because he thought his step-father was going to hurt his mother. This leads to the divorce of his mother and step-father. The identity of Sam's biological father remains a mystery. His birth certificate says that his father's name is Taegen Smith, which notes is "unusual", although Smith is very common - "the type of name someone might use if they wanted to hide their real name".
Sam is known as "School Bus Sum" ("School Bus Sam") to the kids at school. This is because of an event when he was in the seventh grade. After the driver of the bus has a heart attack, Sam takes control over the bus and saves the lives of other kids by driving the bus safely to the side of the road. This is what leads to Sam becoming the leader among the townies while in the , but when Caine Soren comes to town, some lose their loyalty.
Sam begins the FAYZ with his best friend, Quinn , and the girl he has a crush on: Astrid.
In But while he is trying to rescue the girl, she shoots fire from her hands. In retaliation, Sam uses his powers on her, subsequently killing her. Once the fire is put out, everyone assumes that the girl died of smoke inhalation. Sam, however, knows that he could have killed her when he used his powers but no one questions him about it. after all the adults have "poofed", Sam, Quinn , and Astrid begin searching for their parents at their houses. Finding nothing, they went to the town square where Sam helps rescue a girl from
After this Sam, Quinn , and Astrid go to Clifftop Hotel to look for Astrid's younger brother, Little Pete. Here they meet and discover , but not Little Pete. The next day the group goes up to the nuclear power plant. There they find Little Pete and a map showing the levels of radiation in the area that reveals that the highest radiation is where the FAYZ wall is.
Sam wakes up and finds the managers iPod. As he is sitting at a desk a rat runs across his feet. He backs up quickly accidentally slamming into a trophy case, causing a tremendous crash. This startles Little Pete and he uses his telekinesis to choke Sam. He uses his power (killing green lights), missing Little Pete. Being deprived of air, Sam passes out.
After the Coates kids come to town, Sam is put in charge of the firehouse due to the earlier event in which he tried to save a young girl out of a burning building in the FAYZ.
Sam reluctantly becomes a leader in the FAYZ. He learns that he has the (his ability being that he's able to create deadly heated green-white light from his palms) and that Caine (the leader of the Coates kids) is actually his fraternal twin brother. A face-off between the two results in Caine's defeat, and Sam becoming the 'mayor' of Perdido Beach.
Sam is beginning to accept his role of authority. Although he is doing it grudgingly he seems to be doing a good job, despite a few slip-ups he is managing well, especially with Astrid at his side. In Hunger, Sam is in charge again, helping the kids find food. He receives a tip saying there is food in the farmlands, just rotting away, and tries to take advantage of it. But when , one of the volunteers, goes into the cabbage field, he is savagely attacked by , leaving him little more than bones.
All around the FAYZ, kids are starving; they kill pets, dig through garbage, and begin to take sides with or against the freaks. A new side rises from the ashes of Caine's group, calling themselves the . Sam also has to put up with the fact that Caine, Drake, Diana and Jack try to take over the power plant, Perdido beach's source of energy. Sam loses and everyone loses electricity. When Sam visits the power plant in order to stop Caine, he is cornered by Drake, who threatens to cause a nuclear meltdown unless Sam willingly dies. He is nearly killed before Brianna arrives and cuts a part of Drake's whip hand off. Sam also gets badly whipped by Drake's 'whip hand' and almost dies but thankfully is healed later by Lana.
While Sam is being whipped by Drake, Lana is being taken over by the Gaiaphage. Edilio and Dekka try to collapse the mine shaft; Caine soon appears with Drake, Jack and Diana. During that time, Lana (who is still taken over by the Gaiaphage) shoots Edilio, coyotes attack Dekka, Brianna is exposed to radiation, and Sam is still lying on the floor of the nuclear power plant, suffering from the whip marks. Sam staggers out of the plant and gets the attention of Quinn . They go to the mine shaft. Brianna gets Duck (a mutant whose power is to sink or float by controlling his body weight) to help Sam and Caine fight the Gaiaphage. Sam recovers from the marks of Drake's whip with the help of Lana. Sam is still the mayor of Perdido Beach but Astrid develops a council to help.
Electricity is out in the FAYZ and the water supply no longer works. Sam Temple, the former mayor of Perdido Beach, is walking the streets at 2a.m. Down on the beach he sees Orsay Pettijohn, a mutant who can see other people's dreams. She's with a group of other kids and claiming she can see the dreams of those on the other side of the FAYZ wall. Sam also sees a girl called Nerezza, who he does not recognize. Orsay tells Sam that she's dreamed of Sam's mother, who wants to tell him that there's a time when the world no longer needs heroes. And then the true hero knows to walk away.
Sam discovers 9 year old Jill, a girl with Siren-like powers, bound and gagged in a grave.
The next day in the "Mall", a boy called Francis tells Sam and Astrid that he's going to step out of the FAYZ on his fifteenth birthday. Before Sam can say anything, Francis disappears. Astrid calls a meeting of the newly appointed council: Sam, Astrid, Edilio, Dekka, John Terrafino, Albert Hillsborough and Howard Bassem. Astrid is furious Sam lied to her about Orsay. The council agrees to tell everyone Orsay is lying. Sam and Astrid later have an argument and Sam moves out of the house they both live in. Afterward Taylor tells Astrid that someone claims to have spotted Drake Merwin on the beach. They also find a boy with Drake's whip marks all over him. Later on she tells Sam that the supposedly dead Brittney is alive and in Howard and Orc's house. Sam, not knowing what else to do, asks Brianna (Breeze) to look after Brittney.
Sam discovers it is Zil who set fire to the town and sets out to kill him, ignoring both Edilio's and Astrid's warnings. However, he soon finds himself back at the power plant, where Drake had tortured him, and knew that's where he'd end up all along.
In Perdido Beach, the inhabitants manage to stop the fire but many kids are killed. At a cook off in the plaza, Mary Terrain claims she saw Drake, who soon arrives and causes mass panic. At the same time, Nerezza convinces Mary to take the children to the cliff over the beach. Nerezza then tries to kill Little Pete, Astrid's autistic little brother and the person who caused the FAYZ, but she fails. Astrid arrives at the cliff and sees Mary and a line of children holding hands at the cliff edge. On the moment of her fifteenth birthday, Mary sees her mother and steps off the cliff to try to get to her, pulling the children with her. Sam arrives, but no one can help because they are rendered helpless by Nerezza, who tells Jill to sing. However, Sanjit's helicopter arrives and drowns out the singing. Mary vacates, but the children are saved by Dekka and Brianna. Then Brittney arrives, slowly transforming into Drake. Drake attacks Sam but Sam uses his power to burn Drake. However Drake soon turns into Brittney again and Sam is not able to kill the innocent girl. He asks Brianna to grab some ropes and chains to hold Drake. At the same time, Little Pete finds that his Gameboy, the favorite thing he owns, smashed on the ground. He reacts by screaming and causing the FAYZ wall to disappear for a split second. Astrid sees adults staring on the other side before the wall returns.
It is finally revealed that the evil creature called the Gaiaphage is behind everything. It needed both Brittney's immortality and Lana Arwen Lazar's healing powers to bring Drake back from the dead. However, Brittney's willpower stopped Drake taking over the body they shared completely. Nerezza is not human at all; she's the Gaiaphage's avatar, brought to life using Little Pete's impossible powers, which was tricked into thinking, he was playing a game. The Gaiaphage had used Nerezza to try to kill the young children Mary pulled after her, which would have broken the kids of the FAYZ, but the tactic failed, and Astrid almost kills Nerezza by choking her, but realizes it is not the answer and stops. Brittney/Drake needs no food or water to survive, so Sam locks them in Howard and Orc's basement. In the end Sam catches the flu, which is a hint as to the plot of the fourth book,
In Plague, Sam is first caught drunk, attacking the FAYZ barrier, unsuccessfully. Taylor arrives, and they kiss. Later, Sam is pulled over by Albert and asked to go up and look for a lake, since the FAYZ is suffering from drought. He agrees, and sets off with Taylor, Dekka, and Jack. He later discovers Toto, subject 1-10, who is a freak who can tell the truth from lies. They discover crates of nutella, noodles, and Pepsi on their journey. When they get to the lake, Sam sees Drake, and attempts to kill him, unsuccessfully. He later escapes, and sends Computer Jack to kill Little Pete in order to stop the FAYZ. He and Dekka and Toto attempt to blow the bugs up by floating a container full of missiles up the FAYZ wall, but when his plan fails, he is left with no other method for saving everyone form the insects. He later saves Dekka's life by preforming last minute surgery when the bugs hatch inside her, and Lana helps to keep her alive. At the end of Plague, Caine and Sam force people to choose a side; those who go with Sam go to the lake, while those with Caine stay in Perdido Beach. One third of the FAYZ goes with him, among them Dekka, Brianna, Diana, and the Brattle-Chances as well as Lana, who promise to 'try it out’; although Sam suspects the bulk of the kids following him are only doing so because of the promise of food and water.
In Fear, Sam is shown that the barrier is becoming stained black by Sinder and Jezzie, two gardeners. Sam was afraid of the dark as a child, so he worries about when the barrier is completely black. Sam quickly becomes bored with his job, considering there is not much to do now that peace has finally been accomplished. He decides to get rid of the missiles down on the beach. He takes Dekka, Jack, and Brianna with him. When they arrive, Sam notices all the missiles have been stolen, and the case is booby trapped. He wants to set off the trap so no one gets hurt. Brianna helps him with this, and later he strongly suspects that Caine has stolen the missiles, and he is sure this will cause war to break out between Lake Tramonto and Perdido Beach.
Soon Astrid returns with news: the barrier is turning black. She and Sam finally becomes a couple again. Later Astrid runs off to deliver a note to Caine about plans for when the barrier turns black, without permission. Sam is outraged that Dekka let her get away, and Sam and Dekka fight over sending Brianna to get her. Eventually they agree not to send Brianna after her.
Drake takes Diana and Justin to shore in a boat, taking her to the Gaiaphage for her baby. Sam catches them leaving too late, and Edilio refuses to let him leave. He is angry that Brianna is not here to catch them and doesn't know where she is. Jack meets Drake and Diana and Justin, but Drake whips him across his neck and leaves him lying in a pool of his own blood for Orc to carry back to the lake. Orc bring him to Roger, who patches him back up. Sam lets Dekka and Orc go after Drake, hoping Brianna will appear and help (Who is supposed to be watching Jezzie and Sinder so she was close by but she is off fighting Coyotes)
Sam goes to Perdido Beach and helps Caine battle Gaia, Drake, and Penny. Caine kills Penny. Then, the FAYZ wall becomes transparent so that the world outside, along with Connie Temple, sees Sam burn Gaia. Astrid then states after the battle where Gaia, Diana, and Drake flee that the judgmental way the adults feel towards them is terrible.
Sam states that he knew it would come, and leaves with his group to presumably chase after Gaia and the others.
Sam's appearance on the cover suggests a big role in the book.
Sam has the power of generating Light. In his youth, he discovered his power when he burned his step-father's hand off accidentally, trying to defend his mother. He was somewhat afraid of the dark then as well and in this fear, he accidently created a floating orb of light, which he hid from everyone, until the start of the FAYZ. Later, in , using them as lights after the electricity was shut down. He is also capable of shooting out deadly blasts of light from his hands. These blasts are capable of easily incinerating anything they touch. He uses his powers many times when he needs to defend himself throughout all of the books. He also seems to be able to control his powers depending on his anger. He can focus his light and make it go wide, while at the same time he is still vulnerable to it. , the kids of the FAYZ would call them
Before the FAYZ
Sam and attended together. She had the habit of wearing starched white short-sleeved blouses that had always caught Sam's eye. Sam had crushed on but consider her "out of his league." He had followed her home once, in an attempt to ask her on a date, but chickened out. was present when Sam rescued his class when their bus driver suffered a heart attack.
After the start of the FAYZ, Sam and spent a lot of time together after he agreed to help find her brother . admires Sam's willingness to "step up" and do what no one else will, and often encourages Sam to take a more leadership role in the FAYZ.
Before the FAYZ
Quinn's "weird guy vibe," and love of surfing are reasons why Sam and Quinn became best friends. had always preferred keeping a low social profile which naturally "clicked" with Quinn , who was his "own clique." They spent their free time surfing and camping out on the beach.
Sam and friendship is stressed during the events of Gone. Sam notices that cool laid back personality had changed when the FAYZ started. becomes easily panicked, emotionally distraught, and passive aggressive towards others. When faced with a crisis cowardly nature begins to conflict with Sam's selfless acts of bravery. Sam's friendship with further alienates Quinn from his best friend, who may have felt replaced. Quinn becomes unsettled with the idea of Sam the de facto leader of the FAYZ, and dislikes that Sam appears to be running things and giving orders. When Sam reveals his powers, Quinn begins to see Sam as a "freak" and their friendship dynamic changes dramatically. A lot of this angst stems from Quinn's ( 's) desire for the world to return to normal and have his best friend and old life back.
After the incident when Orc was beating Bette, Sam looks at Quinn with pity and contempt for Quinn's inaction.
§ Sam, like Caine Soren, was born on November 22.
§ Sam's powers existed before the F.A.Y.Z. happened.
§ Sam first created a Sammy Sun when he was home alone and was scared of the dark while the power was out.
§ He first used his fire when he overheard his mother and stepfather fighting, and thought his mom was in danger.