The Project, by Courtney Summers

karleighreads's review against another edition

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DNF. nope.

ladyljd's review against another edition

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The Project by Courtney Summers


I’d like to start out by thanking the publisher for providing a free e-book in exchange for an honest review. Please bear in mind the following only contains my opinions and reflects my experiences with the novel.

Undoubtedly, Courtney Summers is a talented writer. They know how to craft a story and as a reader you can tell they put research into provide a seemingly honest, if fictional, account of people that have been used by a cult. While I cannot be a voice that authenticates that journey, some of the information presented tracks with accounts provided by actual people that have shared their stories after “waking up” and leaving a cult.

Now to the meat and the bones of this review. Overall, my take away of The Project is that it’s interesting, but not gripping.

*Review lowered to a 2.5 star, rounded to 3, after sleeping on it. See spoiler section for details.

Potential and absolute spoilers

Very early on in the story there were mentions to the Trump administration. Considering the time period in which the novel takes place, it makes sense; however, it’s strange, not bad just strange, to read references to this deplorable era in American history when we are still freshly dealing with the horrific aftermath.

Jumping in to the criticism…

Nothing in this book was really surprising. Even without prior mention that they existed, it was clear who the person was that showed up to Arthur’s house once Casey arrived. As soon as it was mentioned Foster was having issues with the religion, the immediate thought was what happened. Once a murder was revealed, my first thought was, “of course she was murdered.” The story was predictable. Leading into the next point…

This is the fourth Courtney Summers book that I’ve read, and they all have glaring similarities. It seems the draft of these stories are laid out to include two sisters (or people with a familial bond), missing girl, assault, revelation that missing girl was raped and murdered, and conclusion. The details are different, but the beats are the same.

I think one of the most infuriating things about the story was that the novel entirely skipped over how Lo survived the final attack. The conclusion went straight from she’s dying into a time jump where she’s fine, well, alive to deal with the repercussions of what she’s been through. Absolutely no details on how she survived and her attacker died other than essentially, meh, it is what it is…moving on.
*Thinking more on this a day later. In my opinion skipping the details of the final battle is lazy storytelling. The entire story builds to this point and then a seemingly impossible situation was just resolved off page. It’s like if in Infinity War Thanos retrieved all of the infinity stones, snapped, and then the movie flashed forward to a point beyond Endgame where everything was fine. No information on how he was stopped other than a brief dialogue between the heroes like “yeah, Thanos is gone and we did the thing.” Lowering my rating from a 3 star to 2.5.

There are formatting issues in the advanced e-book I received that could absolutely be because it was an arc and not a final copy; however, these issues were enough to take me out of the story and I hope they were not included in the finished product.

pixiejess8's review against another edition

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This is well done for sure, but it was a rough read for sure.
Cults, ugh! I always think I will find them compelling, but nope!

I hate Cults, which is not a hot take I know, but the way they rip at the foundations of families breaks my heart. I found this terrifying and anxiety inducing, well written but in no way a fun read.
The project is the story of 2 sisters who go through a tragedy. Lo is devastated and Bea joins a cult. This goes into how cults isolate you, work you hard and just generally break you down and make you thank them for the deconstruction of self and soul they are inflicting.

We have Lo's timeline and Bea's which made this compelling, but at the same time I was so sad and heart broken for the characters that I just couldn't enjoy it.
In conclusion, cult leaders are the worst of us, I wish them upon no one and they can fuck allll the way off.

meghin's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


what a fucking nightmare (/pos).

Thanks to the publisher for the ARC and unexpected trauma!

Every book Courtney Summers writes is more horrifying than the last one, and I mean that in a positive way. The Project gives you a deeply unsettled feeling right from the start and you can't quite figure out why until about half way though the book when Events Happen. The first half was honestly a bit slow for me, and if I hadn't had wonderful experiences with the author in the past I might have even DNFed it because of how slow the build was, but the unease that's built up through Lo's POV and drive to get her sister back is needed and you're repaid for your patience in the second half.

If you'll excuse me I need to go cut off all of my skin to get away from the feeling this book left me with. 

ishouldreadthat's review against another edition

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Find bookish thoughts and videos on my YouTube channel.

I really enjoyed Summers’ last book, Sadie, and had high expectations for The Project. Although the book had a ton of really great elements, the ending fizzled badly enough to impact my enjoyment of the book overall.

The Project follows two sisters — Bea and Lo. When their parents are killed in a horrible car accident that leaves Lo clinging to life, Bea looks for a miracle and finds it in a man named Lev Warren. Bea leaves Lo and her old life behind to join Lev and The Project — a controversial social group that denies claims that it is a cult. Six years later, Lo is desperate to track down her sister and wrestle with the sense of abandonment.

I have a big interest in true crime and cults, especially what compels people to join them and stay through the most horrific treatment. Summers does a great job with this aspect of the book and I really felt for Bea. Lo’s grief and anger is so visceral and her character really leaps off the page. Like Sadie, The Project does a great job of tackling complicated human emotions and tragedy.

The problem is that book is a slow burn that reaches its crescendo, and then totally falls flat. The ending is completely rushed and, for me, undid all of the amazing work that Summers did in the first third. I was left feeling so disappointed and desperately wanting more.

vegdogmom's review against another edition

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This was fine, but I was hoping for a lot more out of it.

The lukewarm reception in the reviews here didn't scare me off as I'm like, really in to to cult stuff. So I thought my love of culty cult stuff would be enough for me. But there was just not enough culty cult cult! No spooks. No twists? I felt like my response to every turn in the story was "Oh. Ok. That makes sense."

Lo was grating as a character at times. I kept getting frustrated at her immaturity, forgetting that she's only 19. I am sure I was gratingly immature at 19 so I am giving her a pass.

My biggest issue with the book overall was
SpoilerLo's change of heart regarding The Unity Project. It felt too abrupt - she was there to do her piece about Lev and then when she meets Bea's daughter she's suddenly sold on the whole thing?
Maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention, but also, maybe I just wasn't that invested. Who can say?

Long story short, this is 2.5 stars. It was fine. Totally readable. But not what I was expected, nor what I was hoping for.

aldersons's review against another edition

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4.5 out of 5 stars.

Courtney does it again!!!!

ksheaffs's review

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dark emotional mysterious sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


kenzwils's review against another edition

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Meh. Skip it.

unabashedlyemma's review against another edition

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challenging dark sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


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