In 2032, biotech entrepreneur Sonja Woodward has created a genetic test that can identify a predisposition in teenagers for unethical behavior before they reach adulthood. Those who test positive are sent to Woodward Academy on Nantucket Island. Montgomery Hughes, a high school senior, is among the first students sent to the school.
But Monty is there under false pretenses. He switched his test result with another student’s and is using an alias to hide his identity. Haunted by his disgraced father’s scandal, Monty is convinced he’s a bad seed. At Woodward, Monty discovers a dark side to Sonja’s ethics-intervention school. Students who don’t respond are treated in a secret lab with a technology that alters genes associated with empathy: the equivalent of a high-tech lobotomy. When Monty’s identity is revealed, Sonja’s gene-editing “cure” offers her the perfect opportunity for punishment—and Monty is scheduled for treatment.
The Empathy Academy by Dustin Grinnell is a high-concept philosophical novel that explores the science and perils of using genetic technology to predict and enhance complex human behavior.
What People Are Saying about The Empathy Academy
“The Empathy Academy is a thought-provoking thriller that balances action and contemplation. It prompts readers to ponder larger questions even beyond nature versus nurture: What does it mean to be a good person? How should we deal with the faults in ourselves and others? Should we stop loving people if they do bad things? Dustin widens the lens on these topics by including references to related books and psychological experiments. This story’s action-packed plot will keep readers guessing, and the energy it infuses into the deep questions at its core will keep them thinking.” — BOOKLIFE
“While sci-fi readers interested in thriller atmospheres will be the most likely audience for The Empathy Academy, it’s also highly recommended as a discussion piece for philosophy students interested in moral and ethical dilemmas. Placing it on the reading lists of such an audience will assure that its message, couched in strong adventure descriptions and ethical probes, will translate to thought-provoking debates and classroom discussions as students absorb a more contemplative message than the usual sci-fi read offers.” — D. DONOVAN, SENIOR REVIEWER, MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“The Empathy Academy by Dustin Grinnell is filled with thought-provoking ideas. In the continual search for right and wrong, this book reveals the difficult grey areas that are the hardest to avoid. With relatable characters and a writing style that makes it easy to dive straight in, this book is a must-read. This story is definitely suited for younger readers who find themselves questioning life in general as well as their own path to follow. The more experienced readers who have an interest in science and philosophy will also find this book intriguing. There are quite a few solid ideas regarding sorting our feelings and emotions that I would try myself. I also found the entire storyline quite relevant to our current global situation regarding medicine intended to help us, which really harms us more.”
— RONÉL STEYN FOR READERS' FAVORITE
Recommended Works by Dustin Grinnell
Title by Author Name
About the Book READ MORE
Discussion Questions for The Empathy Academy
About Dustin Grinnell
Dustin Grinnell is a writer based in Boston. His creative nonfiction and fiction combines medicine and the humanities and has appeared in Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Perspectives in Biology & Medicine, New Scientist, Hektoen International, Ars Medica, The Awakenings Review, Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, and Tendon: A Medical Humanities Creative Journal. His two novels, The Genius Dilemma and Without Limits, were self-published in 2013 and 2015. His sci-fi thriller, The Empathy Academy, is forthcoming with Atmosphere Press. He has MFA in fiction from Lasell University, and an MS in physiology from Penn State. He’s a full-time copywriter for Bose Corporation.