Redemption Prep – Samuel Miller

Like Samuel Miller’s debut novel, A Lite Too Bright, Redemption Prep doesn’t give up its secrets willingly. I think was about two thirds of the way through this thoughtful, intelligent mystery before I felt as though I was on semi-firm ground. And even then…

Redemption Prep is a private high school deep in the woods in Utah. Students have been told that “recruitment was incredibly selective, that [they’d] been chosen because of [their] accomplishments.”

Miller’s novel focuses on three of these students: Evan, Aiden and Neesha. Besides all being students at Redemption, they have another thing in common: Emma. When the novel opens, Emma has disappeared. Aiden is her star-basketball-player boyfriend; Neesha is her roommate and Evan is the boy who watches her every move.

As the school scrambles to locate Emma, it is clear that each of the students associated with her have their own concerns. Neesha, for example, is worried that Emma has disappeared because of the drugs she was selling for her. Aiden has been worried that Emma was going to break up with him and that her disappearance might have something to do with that; she’s certainly been acting strangely over the past couple of weeks. Evan is convinced that something more complicated, or perhaps even sinister, is going on.

Something is definitely not quite right at Redemption Prep. For one thing, no one is allowed to miss Mass. Ever. (Even though a high proportion of the student body is not Christian.) For another thing, there are a lot of maintenance workers at the school, and it soon becomes apparent that they aren’t your run-of-the-mill janitors. Then there’s the school’s head instructor, Dr. Richardson, a formidable leader with whom one does clearly not want to mess.

Eventually, despite their differences, Aiden, Evan and Neesha – along with a couple of their classmates, Zaza and Peter – form an alliance. Despite the school’s claims to the contrary, they are convinced that something nefarious is going on at Redemption Prep. They’re not wrong.

There is a lot going on in this book. It’s definitely well-written, but I do think it’s a little slow-going until it hits about the 3/4 mark, and then things really speed up. The ambiguous ending wasn’t wholly satisfying, but I still enjoyed the book overall.

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