The Empathy Academy

In the year 2032, scientist Sonja Woodward creates a genetic test that can identify a predisposition in high school students for unethical behavior when they reach adulthood. Those who test positive are sent to Woodward Academy on Nantucket Island, and high school senior Montgomery Gates is in the first group of students sent to the school. Monty is there under false pretenses, however. He switched his test score with another student’s and is using an alias to hide his identity. Haunted by his disgraced father’s ethical failings and fraudulent acts, Monty is convinced he’s a bad seed.

At the academy, Monty and his classmates study history, ethics, and learn about cutting-edge science on morality. But Monty soon discovers a dark side to Dr. Woodward’s ethics-intervention school. Students who don’t respond in the classroom are treated at a secret laboratory with a technology that alters genes associated with empathy: the equivalent of a high-tech lobotomy. Monty also learns what motivated Dr. Woodward to develop her ethical prediction test: His father stole one of her inventions. When Monty’s identity is revealed, Dr. Woodward’s gene-editing “cure” offers her the perfect opportunity for revenge—and Monty is scheduled for treatment.