• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Project by Courtney Summers

Summers's young adult fiction begins with a fascinating premise--sisters are torn apart by tragedy and then further separated by a cult--but I found the motivations and exchanges unclear.

My book club recently read this suspenseful young adult book by Courtney Summers.

In The Project, Lo and Bea are young sisters whose parents die in a car accident. The sisters drift apart. Younger sister Lo gravitates toward a career of seeking and exposing the truth around her as a journalist, while Bea retreats into a reclusive, mysterious community.

Lo tries to find and reunite with her sister, but she can't make contact with her, and she suspects the worst.

When mysterious events come to light that seem linked to the seemingly harmless, benevolent group The Unity Project, Lo digs a little deeper into the life of the founder and into the group's activities. She suspects that its members are part of a cult. Lo just knows The Unity Project is dangerous--and she fears how her sister may be involved.

In a classic Mom-Reads-a-Young-Adult-Book disconnect, I found myself repeatedly distracted by Lo's jarringly overfamiliar and unprofessional behavior at work (Isn't she going to get fired, mouthing off to her boss like this?), which was likely not the point of Summers's workplace scenes.

There's dabbling with reading the Bible and minor explorations of faith outside of Lev, but most of this centers around Lev as a godlike figure and the blind faith and sacrifice demonstrated by his followers.

The way in which Lo is drawn into the Unity Project world seemed outlandish, and various revelations about what was truly going on in the story didn't hold the weight or surprise for me that they seemed to be intended to.

I'm intrigued by stories about secrets and mysterious communities or private groups, so the focus on a cult was a draw for me with this book. But the characters' exchanges in The Project felt a little unrealistic and overdramatic, as did the jumps and major shifts in situations that didn't feel explained or particularly warranted. I frequently felt unsure about the tone as well as the characters' motivations, which made it tough for me to feel invested in The Project.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Summers is also the author of Sadie, Some Girls Are, This Is Not a Test, and other young adult books.

This book reminded me somewhat of Chelsea Bieker's God Shot, another fictional book about a cult--and a book I also had some trouble getting a handle on.