The Project – Courtney Summers

Genre: Young Adult Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pages: 352
Release Date: February 2, 2021

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. 

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The Project follows Lo as she tries to expose the cult that stole her older sister away from her so many years ago. The Project’s premise is what drew me to the novel. Also, Summer’s writing is always lyrical (i.e. Sadie and All the Rage). Unfortunately, the execution of this intriguing premise and Summer’s writing is lacking.

The Project is slow and boring. For most of the novel, readers are subjected to pages upon pages of religious babble as Lo interviews the leader. These moments are pivotal in a novel like this since readers are supposed feel compelled or, at least, understand why people who fall prey to these types of groups. Unfortunately, these conversations are dull at best. There wasn’t a moment I felt compelled or slight swayed.

The novel thrusts readers into Lo’s life in a way that makes it difficult to keep up. There are flash backs and the perspectives switch making it confusing.

A novel like The Project relies heavily on its main character. Lo is an average woman looking to make something more out of her life. Unfortunately, she didn’t come off as particularly smart or resourceful. Instead, readers watch as she flounders when confronted by the charismatic leaders.

I think The Project would have been a more compelling story had it been told from Lo’s sister’s perspective, Bea. Readers get a glimpse of how she was introduced to The Unity Project at the beginning of the novel and that’s it. Had Summers continued with Bea’s story line, The Project would have been a deeper and darker dive into the cult.

Overall, The Project was a disappointment after how much I loved Sadie. I was expecting The Project to be a darker toned mystery, but, instead it’s a slow moving novel that never really amounts to anything.

I originally rated the novel three stars after completing it, but after having written my review I changed it to two stars.

*** I received an eARC via Netgalley for an honest review.

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Will you be reading The Project?

2 thoughts on “The Project – Courtney Summers

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