Three undergraduates meet at Noxhurst College. Phoebe is a once aspiring piano virtuoso. Will is a transfer student from a religious college in California. John Leal has returned to Noxhurst after living in Yangi, a Chinese city next to North Korea. There, he worked as an activist for an American group helping North Koreans defect. He was abducted by North Korean spies, taken across the border to a gulag, where he witnessed many horrors, then released after five months. As the three classmates gather for parties, and drinks, Will is drawn to Phoebe, but John Leal is pulling her away, toward something sinister. Kwon’s exquisitely written first novel is an explosive mix, tracking the formation of a cult that turns to violence.