Book Review

Book Review of Project Cain by Geoffry Girard


Project Cain Book Review

Project Cain is a decidedly different entry to the oversaturated Y.A. market. It's dark and explores not only human emotion but science and history that are intertwined in a chilling novel that will most likely appeal to young reluctant readers, especially boys.

The Department of Defense has developed a new weapon - clones of serial killers raised in a variety of environments and with no realization of who they really are. 15 year old Jeff has just discovered he is a clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. The man who raised him is not really his father. His life is not what he thought it was and the memories he carries are of an artificial & manufactured existence. He has no real childhood. He was born in a lab and raised by a man who keeps and experiments on dead bodies in a hidden area of their suburban home.

With the sudden disappearance of his father, Jeff finds himself thrust into a whirlwind of events on the run as he joins with a government operative who has saved him from an uglier fate. He's now tracking down other versions of himself - boys who may be even more dangerous than the men they were cloned from.

I was intrigued by the entire nature vs. nurture aspect of Project Cain and looked forward to reading it with a bit of a scientific eye. I'm a Y.A. book junkie and this novel stood out as being different from the rest of the pack. However, once I started reading it, I had a very hard time continuing. This is a book written for kids but it's extremely gritty and dark with a plethora of topics & situations that would turn off even many adult readers.

First, the good:

Jeff, as a character is one of the most honestly written protagonists I've come across in a long time. He's frank and direct throughout the novel, sometimes uncomfortably so. As Jeff figures out who he is, you can just feel the confusion and angst swirling in his head. His internal dialogue was very realistic. He shares with you every raw bit of emotion and thought that pops in his head and you get a very good picture of him working through his varied emotions. Jeff positively shined because he came across as real.

And now the bad:

Even though Project Cain is written for the Y.A. market, as a parent I don't want my kid reading it. In fact, my 15 year old son (who is a reluctant reader btw - the exact type of person this book is probably going to be marketed toward) tried it out before I even did and stopped reading it after only a few pages. He said it was inappropriate and he didn't want to fill his head with garbage. Thankfully I've raised him to be a discerning reader because I have to agree. While there is something that shines in this book, mainly the author's skill at writing and his masterful characterization of Jeff, the material leaves a lot to be desired. It's filled with cursing and deals with some very dark situations - as you would expect from a book dealing with serial killer clones. I guess I was expecting something different from it and it was just "too" dark - more than I thought necessary.

I read the author's blog and he mentions how he wrote it to "entice, particularly, reluctant boy readers." While I applaud his trying to reach this difficult audience, I question if they should be reached with the content of the book itself.

I had high hopes for Project Cain, but I just couldn't connect to the subject matter and I wouldn't encourage the target audience to do so either. I think the novel would have done a much better job if it had targeted adults, as there are some interesting concepts explored. Geoffrey Girard is a talented writer, but I just can't endorse his novel due to the content and the intended audience.

Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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