The Project

Featured
 
4.6 (3)
 
0.0 (0)
697 0
The Project
Age Range
12+
Release Date
February 02, 2021
ISBN
9781250105738
Buy This Book
      

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo's sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there's more to the group than meets the eye. She's spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it. When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what's real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn't know if she can afford not to.

Editor reviews

3 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.6
Plot 
 
4.3  (3)
Characters 
 
4.7  (3)
Writing Style 
 
4.7  (3)
The Project
(Updated: March 01, 2021)
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
What worked: This is one intense psychological tale of a girl trying to reconnect with her sister after she joins The Unity Project. There's two different points of view in this engaging story. Bea is the older sister who leaves to join The Unity Project and it's charismatic leader Lev Warren. She leaves behind her then thirteen-year-old sister Lo, who is the sole survivor of a horrific car accident that claimed the lives of their parents. She's left with a horrible scar on her face. Jump forward in time where nineteen-year-old Lo works at SVO and tries to put together an expose of the cult. Lo's journey to find the truth behind her sister's involvement in The Unity Project takes her a revival meeting where she's pushed out. All the 'family' knows her as the child that Lev 'saved' from death. Questions lead her to finally get a meeting with Lev and she hopes to her sister.

The Unity Project is so similar to such cults like Scientology with such things as Attestation, where family share their sins. There's also an ugliness behind the so-called helpfulness of the group. Lev Warren is like many so-called prophets who latch on to people's suffering and longings for a purpose in this life.

This novel jumps back and forth between time and between protagonists. A few times at the beginning, I was confused on what was really happening. Once I got past that, I was riveted by Lo's determination on doing anything, including getting into the family, in order to find her sister Bea.

Bea's story is one of a teen who feels her answered to a prayer to save her sister is answered by Lev Warren. I didn't feel she was gullible, but someone who got caught up in a world that she so much wanted to exist.

Intense psychological ride where a sister's search for the truth behind a cult will lead her to painful truths. Realistic portrayal of a cult and the power it has on some.
Good Points
1. Haunting portrayal of a cult
2. Intense thriller
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0
captivating YA psychological thriller
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
THE PROJECT is an intense and captivating YA psychological thriller. After Lo was critically injured in the car crash that took her parents' lives, she lost her older sister, Bea, to The Unity Project. The Unity Project is a somewhat mysterious organization that recruits people to essentially do missionary work, helping those less fortunate. However, there is something sinister about it and Lev Warren, the leader, who has been compared to a cult leader.

When Lo witnesses a death linked to The Unity Project and then encounters the boy's father at her magazine offices, she decides that this may be the way to find her sister, get answers, and also breakout as a journalist. Although she has only been working as an assistant, she wants to be a writer for the news magazine where she works. When she is offered an exclusive look and interview, she knows that this may be her chance. However, The Project is not an easy one to examine from afar.

What I loved: The book is told from Bea's points-of-view in the past and Lo's in the present, and I was completely captivated by both. It takes a little time to get into the hang of who is who at first, but it was soon smoothly read. Lev and the other individuals at The Project really come charismatically to life, and it was easy to see how Bea and others could get involved with such an organization. Although it seems too good to be true on the surface, digging deeper is more difficult than you would imagine, and I loved the way the sinister feeling lurks throughout the story. This book really shows how individuals could get involved with cults and feel stuck within them as well as the manipulative manner in which they are controlled. This was quite an intense ride.

I will add warnings for dubious consent, psychological and physical abuse, and inappropriate power dynamics in relationships. This was a challenging but completely captivating read.

Final verdict: Masterfully woven and highly compelling, THE PROJECT is a YA psychological thriller that will leave the reader guessing and second guessing until the end. This is an unputdownable book in the vein of SADIE, THEY WISH THEY WERE US, and I KILLED ZOE SPANOS.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 1 0
A haunting examination of family, cults, and identity
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Lo Denham, magazine assistant and loner, is looking for her sister, Bea. Six years ago, Lo's parents died in a car crash, and while Lo was recovering from her own injuries, Bea left to join The Unity Project. On the surface, The Unity Project and it's leader, Lev Warren, look charitable and positive. But Lo knows there is something not right about them, and she's determined to prove it and finally reunite with her sister after years of silence. When her investigation puts her closer and closer to Lev, making her question everything she thought she knew, she will have to find the truth before it's too late.

THE PROJECT has everything you look for in a Courtney Summers novel: tough family situations, a girl more than a little haunted, and an angry, nearly aggressive search for answers. In this latest title, you get all that and a fascinating exploration of cults.

THE PROJECT highlights many ways someone can get drawn into a cult but primarily focuses on the paths of Lo and Bea. For Bea, we get a timeline several years ago, while Lo's is in her 'present' (2018). When many people think of cults, they tend to jump to the aftermath of them: the deaths, the deceptions, the lies unveiled. It's common to be on the judgmental side, wondering how no one could have seen the warning signs or questioning what sort of person would want to join a cult to begin with. When Bea first encounters Lev Warren, she is at the end of her rope, desperate to find a path out of the pain she's feeling or maybe if not an answer, a reason or a cause to put her pain behind. You see how she falls in love with Lev's charisma and with the ideals the Unity Project claims to represent. She finds a community in the middle of her heartache.

Fast forward several years, Lo, now a young adult, believes something is wrong with The Unity Project, no matter how many reporters have investigated them and returned with nothing. She hasn't seen or spoken to her sister in years, and every time she goes to the Unity Project, she's turned away. She arrives like many of us may imagine we would: immediately skeptical, on guard, and defenses fully up. Her change is so gradual that it was halfway into the book before it really started settling in. It becomes extremely easy to see how, when life is throwing punch after punch at you and you keep falling down, even while trying to get up, you could oh so slowly be drawn into a person who has only been kind and gentle, even knowing they have strange beliefs. Lo starts to doubt her own judgement, and once she, like Bea before her, reaches the end of her rope, she finds Lev at the bottom.

The plot moved slowly for me the first half, but once it hit that halfway point, it took off. The last fourth or so had me particularly consumed. There's rarely any neat and tidy ending with a Summers book, but we do get more answers than I was anticipating (no spoilers).

After finishing, THE PROJECT left me feeling emotionally wrung out with a bittersweet aftertaste and in complete amazement of Courtney Summers' talent once again.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

City of Spells (Into the Crooked Place, #2)
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
City of Spells, the follow-up to Alexandra Christo's gritty YA...
Christmas Parade
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
A delightful Christmas board book filled with hilarious characters and...
Best Friend in the Whole World
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Roland lives a quiet life filled with books, music, and...
Bird Show
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Award-winning author-illustrator Susan Stockdale welcomes you to the Bird Show,...
Down Comes the Night
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw...
My Book of Feelings (My World)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Inspired by the Montessori method of education this unique board...
Sweet & Bitter Magic
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
In this charming debut fantasy perfect for fans of Sorcery...
My High School Rebel Boyfriend
 
3.8 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
He’s a rebel with a cause… to make my...
The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
From New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel comes...
Dark Stars
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Dorothy finds herself completely alone. Roman is dead. The...
Follow Your Arrow
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, this...
Daughter of Darkness
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
She is destined to kill a demon. He is...
The Smile Shop
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Critically-acclaimed author-illustrator Satoshi Kitamura (Hat Tricks) celebrates the value of...
Stanley's Lunch Box
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Everyone’s favorite hard-working hamster Stanley introduces young readers to a...
What Are Unicorns Made Of?
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Have you ever wondered what unicorns are made of? Are...
Grandfather Bowhead, Tell Me a Story
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Richly illustrated and lovingly told, this book is a warm...

Latest Member Reviews

City of Spells (Into the Crooked Place, #2)
 
4.7
"CITY OF SPELLS is a stunning conclusion to an enthralling YA fantasy duology. The book plunges us into the story..."
The Project
 
4.7
"What worked: This is one intense psychological tale of a girl trying to reconnect with her sister after she joins..."
Sweet & Bitter Magic
 
4.7
"SWEET & BITTER MAGIC is a lush and enthralling YA fantasy filled with magic, pain, and love. In this world,..."
Sing Me Forgotten
 
5.0
"SING ME FORGOTTEN is an enchanting, compelling, and unexpected YA fantasy retelling of Phantom of the Opera. In this world,..."
The Valley and the Flood
 
4.3
"Rose Colter is adrift. She can't be where she was staying for the holidays but she can't go home yet..."
Perfect on Paper
 
5.0
"PERFECT ON PAPER is a delightful YA romantic comedy. Darcy has been operating Locker 89 at her school for years...."
11 Paper Hearts
 
4.3
"Reviewed for YA Books Central A super cute and sweet story. The story: A year ago, a..."
shine your icy crown
 
3.3
"shine your icy crown by amanda lovelace is a 129-page collection of contemporary poems. It’s the second book in the..."
The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)
 
4.3
"THE CASTLE SCHOOL (FOR TROUBLED GIRLS) is a story of healing and friendship. Moira has been cast adrift since the..."
Go the Distance
 
5.0
"Hercules proved he was a true hero and became a god like his parents, Zeus and Hera. Meg is thrilled..."
Follow Your Arrow
 
4.3
"FOLLOW YOUR ARROW is a heartfelt read about love, breaking up, and being true to yourself. CeCe has made a..."
Down Comes the Night
 
4.3
"DOWN COMES THE NIGHT is an intriguing, slow-burn YA fantasy. Wren is a healer in the military of her queendom,..."
A Dark and Hollow Star (A Dark and Hollow Star, #1)
 
4.7
"A DARK AND HOLLOW STAR is a slowly building YA fantasy that takes the reader on a wild ride through..."
Daughters of Jubilation
 
5.0
"It's South Carolina in 1962. Sixteen-year-old Evvie has two little sisters to take care of, a single mother, and finally..."
Dark Stars
 
4.0
"DARK STARS by Danielle Rollins is the third book in her series of the same name. It begins with Dorothy..."
Muted
 
5.0
"Denver loves music and dreams of life making it with her R&B group, Angelic Voices. When the group (Denver, Dali,..."
Reawakened
 
3.3
"My favorite thing about this book is the Egyptian elements. Reading Lily’s adventures in pyramids gave me strong Indiana Jones..."
Three Day Summer
 
4.7
"Michael doesn't know what he wants to do with his life. He should go to community college to avoid the..."
Crush (Crave, #2)
 
4.7
"CRUSH is an intense and nail-biting sequel to CRAVE. This second book picks up a few months after the first..."
The Shadow War
 
3.0
"Audiobook review: Following 5 teens trying to survive, THE SHADOW WAR imagines World War II with a..."