ARC Review: The Project by Courtney Summers

The Project

Courtney Summers

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died in a tragic car accident, her sister Bea joined the elusive community called The Unity Project, leaving Lo to fend for herself. Desperate not to lose the only family she has left, Lo has spent the last six years trying to reconnect with Bea, only to be met with radio silence.

When Lo’s given the perfect opportunity to gain access to Bea’s reclusive life, she thinks they’re finally going to be reunited. But it’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t want to be found, and as Lo delves deeper into The Project and its charismatic leader, she begins to realize that there’s more at risk than just her relationship with Bea: her very life might be in danger.

As she uncovers more questions than answers at each turn, everything Lo thought she knew about herself, her sister, and the world is upended. One thing doesn’t change, though, and that’s what keeps her going: Bea needs her, and Lo will do anything to save her.

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Published: February 2nd 2021

Death, Grief, Trauma, Depression, Mention of Child Death, Child Abuse, Physical/Emotional Abuse, Gaslighting, Blood Depiction, Murder, Suicide

Having a sister is a promise no one but the two of you can make – and no one but the two of you can break.” 

I’m not one to compare an authors works, because each title gives something new, there’s a different narrative, a different approach, just difference. But, I did like Sadie. A lot. And this story had a strong start, yet… I don’t know if this book knew where it was trying to go.

I’m going to keep it short: this is a story about a sister trying to expose a cult called The Unity Project that her sister had joined years ago who she has not seen or heard from for years.

Going into this, I want to make it known that despite the gripes that I will be going into deeper in this review, I’m not and will never take away from the core message of this book– sisterhood, trauma, grief, the lengths people go for love, sacrifice, how people (men) prey on those who are vulnerableThe themes and messages here are necessary in their telling and I can’t go further into this review without acknowledging that out of everything, this was one of the strong points.

Now, I make it very known that cults? Kind of scare me. Like a lot. So this overall should have been enthralling? Captivating? However, the main allure of cults at least for me, is the agenda behind said cult. Because at the end of the day, this book is drawing a thin line between a religious movement… and a CULT. But, I have yet to understand what is so beguiling about whatever they’re selling to get all of these loyal followers.

I’ll come back to that in a moment though– I feel like I started this review on a negative note. I’ll say this: Summers writing continues to be top tier. One of the main things that kept me going, her prose was fluid, it packed a punch… even if it did take me three days to actually finish said book. Because for a 300+ story, it dragged.

The longer I delved deeper into the book, the question arose: was this supposed to be a thriller? A mystery? Because nothing truly thrilling happened until a good three quarters of the way. And I think that does have to do with one of our POV’s, Lo. Lo started out as a character that I objectively liked, but as the story came along… her investigating skills didn’t live up to my standards. Sure, she’s full of rage and determination to take this cult down… but didn’t exhibit the drive to get more answers when she needed to. She was very okay with the half assed answers that were provided to her, her journalistic abilities were lacking.

And it sucks, because I ended up wanting more of Bea. Give me a book about her time in the Unity Project, not the little flashbacks that we were handed. I wanted to see more of what the Unity Project did, give me more insight on how they indoctrinated her so deeply into their movement, just MORE.

“He’s just a man.

As soon as I think it, anger courses through my veins, alighting my blood. It’s a wrath strong enough to make me want to disappear the space between us just to break him into pieces.

That Lev Warren could do everything he’s done to me –

And be only a man.” 

Which leads into my next point– Lev as a villain did not hit the mark. He’s scary in the sense that he’s no grandiose villain, he’s everywhere. There are men like him around every corner in reality. And yet… I didn’t see his charisma, his allure, how he got all of these followers– every word out of his mouth sounded like bullshit and that’s not because I’m an omnipresent perspective, I was just expecting to feel uncomfortable with him drawing me in and he just… didn’t. Which in turn made the twist, though foreseeable.. it didn’t make sense to me. Like how.

Like I keep going back to, this story was powerful in message and the story wasn’t bad despite how this review may look. But, maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I just wanted too much; I felt like this could have been more. And I still think you all should give it a read.

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