Speculative near-future redemption puzzler from Reed (The Baby Merchant, 2006, etc.).
In a chaotic new world—there’s violence, pandemics, climate and ecological upheaval—a few super-rich parents may buy safety for 100 fortunate children. High atop a crag called Clothos (Greek mythology buffs take note) stands a former monastery, now part sanctuary, part fortress, part jail; the selected children, you see, are drug-and-sex-addled starlets like Sylvie D'Estart, juvenile criminals such as Killer Stade or, like Teddy Regan, minor royalty embarrassingly afflicted with hereditary epilepsy. Run like a boot camp by Sarge, aka Lt. Col. Sargent Whitemore, USMC (Ret.), and assisted by a staff whose pasts are as checkered as those of the inmates, Mount Clothos is totally insulated from the outside and its presumed horrors. Odd, then, that these horrors come pre-recorded on CDs which Sarge broadcasts daily to the inmates. Deprived of technology, tattoos, bling and designer clothes, the kids rebel at first, but soon become compliant. Mostly. Then Benny, the old monastery's last survivor, discovers an intruder, injured and (maybe) infected with the same disease that long ago exterminated the monks. Roomies Killer and Teddy, meanwhile, desperate to update their status in the online role-playing video game World of Warcraft, hack into Sarge's precious server, only to admit a massive viral attack. As the server crashes, Sarge's computer expert goes AWOL, kids fall sick and Dr. Dratch is falling-down drunk.
Starts off by making you think that nothing is what it seems, and ends up by being...well, exactly what it does seem, with little of the edgy, satirical resonance normally characteristic of Reed's work.