Cover Image: The Project

The Project

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Member Reviews

Lo has been on her own since the car accident that killed her parents and almost took her life too. Her older sister Bea was already wrapped up in The Unity Project at the time, and she sacrificed her relationship with Lo in order to have The Unity Project's leader, Lev, save her life. Now an aspiring journalist, Lo delves into the secrets of The Unity Project in order to break it's hold on her sister.

I love books about cults and I often find them fascinating. While The Project did hold my interest in that regard, it moved too slowly to make me want to keep reading. It might just be the eBook format, but I found it difficult to keep track of the narrators, and the time jumps were confusing.
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Looking at other reviews, I can really see that I’m in the minority here. This is my first book by the author but I was looking forward to it because I’ve heard great things. I was bored for the entire book until the last 15%. I’m not sure if it was a lack of editing due to reading the ARC, but I was so confused at times. It would seem the character was in one place and then suddenly in a completely different place. The back and forth between the sisters was difficult to follow. I didn’t feel that there was enough background on the sisters for me to have interest. The story felt like I had accidentally started in the middle of the book and missed the entire backstory.
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As someone who really enjoyed Sadie, I was looking forward to this author’s latest book. Going into the book, I only had the blurb to go off of. I would say that this book wasn’t what I expected and just really missed the mark for me.

This book is told from past and present and each one is told by a different sister, Lo and Bea. I thought this was an interesting way to do it and mirrors or mystery/thriller books. The thing is, the timeline would be quite confusing especially in the beginning of the book. Things are happening and I have no clue what some mean until later on so emotionally I couldn’t be invested.

Another reason it was hard to get invested was the characters. Even though the book is about Lo trying to make sense of her sister joining this group and leaving her, it felt more plot driven than anything. I also feel like Lo’s character didn’t make sense since she did so much to try and save her sister/expose the cult but then found herself mixed in. I might it’s not totally unbelievable but I just didn’t feel like there was enough strength in that bond for her to make such a choice. I will say at least the plot was enough to keep me going but it also didn’t make me feel much.

The pacing is on the slow side and a lot of the mystery and secrets of the group doesn’t come into play until halfway through the book. There was no real bass drop for me because it took too long for things to get going.

In the plot, there is talk about politics. Personally, I don’t think it was necessary. It didn’t add to the plot in any way.

Like with any cult, there is a lot of abuse. The cult leader in this one is also a groomer. The grooming made me very uncomfortable and it’s something that I don’t like to read about.

Overall, it was okay. I kept waiting for it to get better but it just never clicked for me. I do see this doing well even if it wasn’t for me.
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Few writers do suspense as artfully as Courtney Summers; years after reading SADIE, I can still easily recall the tense, aching anxiety I felt while reading it, and my heartfelt sadness at its conclusion. Summers' latest, THE PROJECT, delivers big when it comes to tension, aching anxiety, and heartfelt sadness all -- but it is also a masterclass in dual timeline structure, emotional depth, enigmatic characterization, and subtlety. 

Lo's and Bea's relationships to one another, as well as The Unity Project and its mysterious leader, Lev Warren, propel the action of the novel forward. Lo sets out to answer a central question: Where is Bea? And second to that, is The Project a good-works-driven charitable organization, or a cult of personality with a dark underbelly? The more Lo uncovers about The Project, the less clear its purpose becomes -- while at the heart of it all stands Lev Warren, Redeemer and redeemed, lover and beloved. 

Summers is one of those very rare authors writing true "crossover" -- fiction that could be as easily assigned to YA as adult audiences. To limit THE PROJECT to either category would be to deny its importance to both. About young readers, Summers recently wrote in a PW article, that they inhabit "a world where the cost of their education could be the bullet that kills their dreams, a world where they’ve witnessed the gross government mishandling of a pandemic, a world where the brutal killings of Black Americans at the hands of police go largely unanswered for, and a world where the flagrant disregard of their future by politically powerful climate change deniers is pulling us ever closer to a global crisis from which there will be no return." Lo's life reflects the complexity of today's young adult experience without dragging the specifics of _now_. The result is nuanced portrait of a young woman living a decidedly adult life, rarely of her own volition, and with the added complication of a traumatic history.

THE PROJECT is an up-all-night, read-til-its-done page-turner that kept me guessing to the end (and I'm hard to surprise!). I'm hopeful that Netflix will pick this up for series development, as it would utterly crush when translated to the screen. Looking ever so forward to more from an author who just gets better with every release.
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I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was so excited for the opportunity to receive this e-ARC, having read Summers' All the Rage and Sadie. I went into the book with an open mind. Tw: abuse and violence 

Bea and Lo are sisters, separated by 6 years. As readers, we get little insight into their sisterly relationship prior to a devastating accident which kills their parents and leaves Lo clinging to life in the ICU. Bea, the non praying type is desperate for a miracle. She finds herself in the hospital chapel and encounters Lev who started The Unity Project. On the surface, it is a charitable organization. But it's so much more insidious than that. 
As a reader, we shuffle between present and past as the 2 sisters discover separately the secret horrors of the Unity Project. Some of this story doesn't work for me. 

At the onset, Lo is 100% certain her sister has been ensnared into a cult. Even without certain evidence. Then she discovers an unexpected family member and it's like she's lost herself in this thing. How does such a skeptical person make that transition?? Sure the leader is a bigger than life personality. Lo throws her job away to pursue her connection as she still hasn't seen her sister. What goes on behind closed doors at the Unity Project is far more disturbing than I could have imagined. I just wish I enjoyed the writing and story more. I felt it dragged from 1/3 in until about 75% into the book. The pacing could be better. If you are fascinated by cults, you might be interested. I think the religious aspect turned me off, as a Jewish person.
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Fantastic page turner! Must read. A different kind of thriller but this book will keep you up late at night to find out the fate of every character.   I couldn't put this book down as I was totally drawn into the plot. You'll question everything about The Unity Project. Is The Unity Project a cult or not? I can't write too much or I'll spoil this page turner! The Project is not all it appears to be at a first glance. When the main character takes a deep dive to both uncover her past and take a leap forward in her career as a journalist to write an explosive tell-all , she realizes the truth about The Unity Project and questions all of her own beliefs.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy of The Project by Courtney Summers. All opinions are my own. 

I feel like I should start off by getting it out in the open that I'm in a massive reading slump, and I'm hoping that's why I couldn't finish it. I love all of Courtney Summers' books, so I was disappointed that I couldn't get into this one- especially since I'm fascinated by cults and this book centers around one. I'm definitely going to pick this back up and try it again and I hope it clicks.
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What Courtney Summers does so well is get to the heart of how our love and loyalty for a loved one can be as damning as a curse, if only because we are infallible people. And in the same breath, she weaves in the lighthouse wash of light that you are probably not alone in your love and whatever may hold you apart, in these case with siblings, is only as temporary as your grief and anger. That is an underlying cathartic bell beneath the electric guitar and somber drumming: your love for your sister is never in vain.
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Excellent read! Definitely a gem that I would recommend to others.  Will be watching for more books by this author.
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Jeez it kinda sucks to say this but this is nowhere near the book I was expecting to follow up Sadie. 

I’ll preface this with saying that I very well may be in the minority with these opinions and I genuinely can not get a grasp on what I think the overall reception of this book will be. 

I mean, well, for starters, this was just boring. I’m talking draggingly so - the settings for the different storylines are very bland and drab to visualize - it reminded me of that Fairly Oddparents episode where everyone is grey. Nothing happens in the first 80% ... it’s supposed to be a book about a girl finding things out about what may be a cult but she spends all that time not finding much out at all???? The only suspense that is built in that first 80% is the fact that you’ve likely read the synopsis and know there’s something deeper than what she’s found - there’s literally no other driving factor for the story. 

There are some vital things in the end scenes that desperately needed more attention. Especially the scene that is the final “battle,” where the big confrontation happens. I feel pretty cheated when it comes to that scene.  Also there’s a dog at one points and then I think after a move of locations there just stops being a dog? Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m trying to figure out where the dog ended up because it was perfectly healthy. 

This book is, like Sadie in many ways, infuriatingly not fair. The last chapter honestly left me feeling like... the author did all that for what? I mean it actually felt like torture porn at this point. Like she legitimately ONLY wrote it to make you upset. Which, I mean, of course tragic things can happen in books. But the tone and placement of that last chapter just really didn’t fully sit right with me. Especially after the chapter before that was a weird somewhat-happy ever after situation that ALSO didn’t fit the tone?

The most upsetting thing about this book is subject matter. There is kind of a grooming situation? A mid-30s man has a sexual and “romantic” relationship with a teenager not once but twice? And obviously the book doesn’t condone it in any way. It just doesn’t condemn it in the right way for me, either. Seeing it happen for the second time was enough to make me physically cringe because the man was a few years older than the first time AND it was with someone even younger than the first time and also it was WILDLY out of character for that person. Which, I think that part of the book was about what it takes for a person to be driven, or dragged, out of character, and what you cling to when there’s nothing left for you... but jeez. It was still just so extremely uncomfortable to read. I genuinely think it’s enough to have turned me away from the book altogether if I’d understood its contents. 

There’s a few character “developments” that are more like mood swings, even with some being regressive and going the opposite way from developing, that happen soooo fast and make you wonder if the characters ever had conviction at all. One plot line was just clear as day to predict and made the main character look really daft for not understanding. But a lot of these characters are pretty vapid - they’re in what’s being accused of being a cult, so how lively or unique are they allowed to be?

I’m honestly trying to think of why I shouldn’t bump this down to one star. There’s genuinely not much I could pinpoint that redeemed this book. I’m always appreciative of realism in books, meaning when broken relationships don’t always get mended or the “bad guys” don’t always get justice, etc., and this definitely stayed true to life. I can see how most everything I pinpointed to dislike could be looked at through a lens of purpose - I could talk around each of those points until there was symbolism in the story for each one. I think it’s smart (or potentially lucky) in that way. I didn’t DNF or hate-read it, so I guess that spares it from one-star doom. 

Dude, as far as me recommending it, I think if you’re curious enough about it, I think you should try it and see how it works for you. As much as I can criticize it, I really don’t see it being universally hated and I think the slow burn might work for people who aren’t used to this kind of story. I definitely won’t be actively recommending it to either teens or adults at work - actually now that I think about it, I think it either should have been aged down slightly to appropriately fit into YA, or aged up to appeal more to adults. Because it where it sits now it has crossover age range but I’m not quite sure if the story is fresh enough for people who read adult thrillers. 

Content warnings: parents’ death, car accident/major injuries and scarring, grooming (?) or something similar, physical abuse, mental abuse, suicide (not a major character so not really a “spoiler”)
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Thank you to NetGalley, Courtney Summers, and Wednesday Books for providing me with this ARC.  I enjoyed The Project.  For someone who typically does not enjoy books about cults, I had heard enough good things about this one to give it a try.  The buzz surrounding Sadie also made me want to read something by this author.  The book did not disappoint.  It was twisty, suspenseful and satisfying. I also enjoy a book with alternating time lines so that was also a huge plus for me.  I will say that I did not realize this was a YA book until I dove in and as I have moved out of that "genre", was a bit concerned about that.  However, in the end, this was a great read and I highly recommed.
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The Project slowly wormed its way into my heart and broke it, as I've come to expect from Summers' writing. The characters, past and present, were beautifully haunted and felt incredibly real. What Summers has crafted here is a cult that seeps its way into being plausibly benevolent until the darkness is truly revealed. The Project serves as a richly atmospheric read.
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Summers is amazing. Her ability to write about so many important human and cultural topics with absolute subtly amazes me. This book does not disappoint. Additionally, this was well researched. I have researched the tactics of Jim Jones and the basic human needs and vulnerabilities of which he and other cult leaders take advantage. This writing is spot on.
I suggest this book to adults and teens. Note- I know know Summers is viewed as YA but the main protagonist is an adult. I suggest parents order this book for kids and definitely that librarians order for their collections.
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I honestly wanted to cry when I saw we could read this now. I love Courtney Summers, and I just couldn't wait for this book. Just reading the prologue I already knew I would love this. After Sadie, I knew I wanted to be hurt by her again, which is a weird thing to type out. Plus I have always been interested in reading about cults so this was perfect. 

We are still in the first chapter, and I already don't like Paul. Lo definitely is going to be a badass, and I am here for it. You do have to pay close attention because the timeline does jump around. I would suggest bookmarking when it jumps just in case you get lost. It helped me out because timelines mess with me.

I was so not ready for two POV's and it was a great touch to know what the other sister was doing. Going into part two I was a little confused, because of the no chapters. Figured it out pretty quickly, I also liked it because it felt more impactful to do it in parts.

Overall I give this book a 5/5 stars, because it is brilliant. I can't wait to start recommeding this book to everyone.
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I’ve never read a book like this before, so it was definitely interesting. Cults are so fascinating and something that doesn’t really get talked about often. Reading this book provided me with a lot of insight into how people become involved in cults, which I never really quite understood before. The one thing I didn’t like about the book was the style the story was told in. The story kept going back in forth in time, switching between Bea’s POV and Lo’s POV, and it was often hard for me to distinguish one voice from the other.
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The Project by Courtney Summers is such an incredible story! I loved the fast paced story and plot, it kept me on the edge of my seat!
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Honestly-- I loved this book. 
I thought this book was brilliant.
I thought that cover was absolutely stunning.
I think Courtney will forever be known from this book.

What was slow to start ended up being interesting and quickly paced. The character dynamic and the plot really sealed the deal for me on this one.
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As a huge fan of Courtney Summers' work, this book had a lot of expectations and did not disappoint. I found the writing and overall storytelling to be just as compelling in this story and was instantly hooked.
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Every time I start a Courtney Summers book, I think to myself, this time, this time will be different. Everyone will be happy and I won't be a crying mess by the end. I was half right for this one: I was a crying mess before the end.
Lo is on the search for her older sister Bea, and she knows where to go: The Unity Project, a charitable community outreach program that seemingly does good all over. When her boss's friend claims that the Unity Project killed his son, Lo knows this is the opportunity she's been waiting for: she's going to do a deep dive into the Project and expose them. But the deeper she goes, the more she learns about her sister and the lives of the other members of the Project. It doesn't help that their leader, Lev Warren, is charismatic and mysterious. With this perfect cocktail, Lo finds herself entrenched in a world that she doesn't understand, but maybe wants to.
When I heard that Courtney Summers was writing a book about cults, I knew I had to have it. Cults rea fascinating and sometimes terrifying, but to watch a leader in action? That is masterful. Lo walks into the Project with her anger and righteousness on high, but then when she meets certain members of the Project, she begins to rethink everything she knew about them. Enter Lev and his charms, and Lo knows that she won't be able to complete what she set out to do.
I have so many feelings about this book that I'm going to stop here and organize them for a longer review later. But my god. This book. That's all you need to know.
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Another winner from Courtney Summers. The premise of sisters torn apart by a cult and the insight into the minds of those who are followers were engaging and compelling. I definitely needed to see what happens next! Great read
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