There are some books that just sink their teeth into you and won't let go. No matter how hard you try to shake it off, there is just no way you are ever going to get it out of your brain. These are the books that people read that evoke big emotions--either love or hate. They spark discussions. They make you wonder. "Project Cain" by Geoffrey Girard is one of those books.
"Project Cain" isn't your run-of-the-mill, happy-ending, feel good read. It is dark. It is deep. It is rough. It is definitely NOT for the faint of heart. It will make you feel something, even if that something is fear and outrage. At least it will shake things up and get you thinking.
There are many conspiracy theories out there about the government, ranging from Area 51 and aliens to how the moon landing was faked. However, "Project Cain" takes conspiracy theories to the extreme. What would happen if a top-secret government organization decided to use the DNA of serial killers to clone a race of super killers, and you found out that YOU were one of those clones? Such is the story of Jeff Jacobson.
Jeff Jacobson has lived a pretty ordinary life for the last 15 years. When he was 5 years old, his mother died in car accident that left his memory severely impaired. Jeff and his dad, a genetic scientist at DSTI, do normal things like visit museums, go on hikes, and watch movies together. Jeff was home-schooled and went to summer camps where he got to meet other kids. He never felt all that different from anyone, he just wished that he could remember his mom. Turns out, his mom was some Ukrainian girl who was paid to carry his fetus for four months, and then he was grown synthetically and brought to physical/psychological maturity in a special tank in a lab. And Dr. Jacobson, the father that he had always been so proud of? He was only his father in so much that he created him in the lab from the DNA of notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and raised him as his own.
To make matters worse, Jeff wasn't the only "monster" clone. There were other Dahmer clones, as well as clones of Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, the Son of Sam, the Boston Strangler, and more. These clones were either raised at the DSTI lab or were "adopted out" to families that were hand-picked by Dr. Jacobson. He then paid each family to treat the child in a certain manner, thereby initiating a variety of nature versus nurture environments in which to raise these serial killer clones.
Dr. Jacobson gives Jeff his file about Project Cain and explains to him who, and what, he is. He provides Jeff with an envelope of cash, and tells him to disappear and stay away from DSTI. No explanations, no apologies. Then the good doctor takes off after releasing a number of the other clones into the world to wreak havoc. I guess it is every man for himself.
"Project Cain" is admittedly quite disturbing, but I couldn't put it down! The book is littered with mug shots and actual information about each of the serial killers. With its solid historical background and scientific bent, the reader becomes immersed in the reality of the story. You are drawn to Jeff's inner struggle between the boy he thinks he is and the man he fears he will become. He is abandoned, scared, and confused. His turmoil is palpable throughout the book as he tries to help find the other clones before they kill too many innocent victims.
This fast-paced thriller, which borders on horror, has enough twists and turns to keep even the most discerning reader engaged. Bear in mind that while this is a young adult (YA) novel, many of the situations and circumstances are violent and adult in nature. I recommend this novel for older teens, and adults.
If you enjoy stepping inside the mind of serial killers and their victims, you might like to try one of these other titles: "I Hunt Killers" by Barry Lyga, "The Naturals" by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, "Slice of Cherry" by Dia Reeves, and "The Name of the Star" by Maureen Johnson.
Recommended by Brandy Walton