Review of Promise Boys by Nick Brooks


Promise Boys by Nick Brooks

To be published on January 31, 2023 by Henry Holt

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Plot Summary of Promise Boys by Nick Brooks

The Urban Promise Prep School vows to turn boys into men. 

As students, J.B., Ramón, and Trey are forced to follow the prestigious "program's" strict rules. Extreme discipline, they’ve been told, is what it takes to be college bound, to avoid the fates of many men in their neighborhoods. This, the Principal Moore Method, supposedly saves lives.

But when Moore ends up murdered and the cops come sniffing around, the trio emerges as the case's prime suspects. With all three maintaining their innocence, they must band together to track down the real killer before they are arrested. But is the true culprit hiding among them?

Review of Promise Boys by Nick Brooks

In Promise Boys, the controversial principal of an all boys' charter school turns up dead, leaving the police with three main suspects: Urban Promise Prep students Trey, J.B., and Ramón.

I was excited about this one, as I love a YA thriller in an academic setting. (No, this is NOT really a  Dark Academia book, but it is set in a school). 

Promise Boys had a lot of strengths: an interesting setting, and a group of characters who came to life on the page as they tried to prove their innocence. In this sense, it did feel a bit like of One of Us is Lying.

As a reader, I am not the biggest fan of the kind of narrative format in which the main characters' POVs are mixed with a bunch of other random characters' POVs in order to tell the story. (Think Jodi Picoult if you read women's fiction.)  Promise Boys features POVs of characters like the school nurse, a "random dude," a "neighborhood hustler," parents of the suspects, and J.B's girlfriend (who I was a big fan of).

Eventually the narrative focused more on the three main characters, but in general there was way too much POV jumping around for me.  However, I think many YA readers won't mind this at all.

Promise Boys was a quick and gripping read. with a surprising resolution. If you like mysteries set in high school, or were a fan of One of Us is Lying (who wasn't?) definitely give this one a try!