Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Project Cain by Geoffrey Girard

2013, Simon and Schuster

Jeffrey Jacobson's world changed the day his father decided to disappear after he hands his son a folder. This file folder, which contains information about himself, would make Jeff question his existence, as well as answer the questions he has kept secret for so long...

Jeff grew up in a home with his father, a famous geneticist, who is now working on a secret project for DSTI, a private science/technology corporation.  Looking back, he could say he lived a fairly normal life - going to camp, taking trips to the museums with his father, hanging out at home...just normal stuff.  He remembers his dad taking him to work and showing him what he did, which included vats full of liquid with someone, or something, floating in them.  Little did he know that he was once in those vats too.

But now at 16, Jeff realizes the full potential of his father's work for DSTI.  Project Cain...a secret weapon the Department of Defense is secretly funding to create a new weapon, this time based on DNA and replication.  Jeff's  father has found XP-11, an anger gene found in a unique population of humans.  And the folder Jeff is holding contains information on a person  he was cloned from who carried that gene...Jeffrey Dahmer.

But the list didn't stop there. His father had taken genes from some other notorious killers to clone:
Henry Lee Lucas
Dennis Rader
Ted Bundy
David Berkowitz.

They are now teenagers, living at Massey Institute as guinea pigs, unbeknownst to what DSTI is doing. Their names?
Henry Roberts
Dennis Vliase
Ted Thompson
David Spanelli

On the outside they look normal, but on the inside, their genetic markers are taking control. Now, they've escaped and are looking for the others like them...

The experiment went way beyond genetics though.  All of the clones were raised in homes much like their original...being exposed to the same horrible childhoods their genetic "parent" experienced.  Jeff Jacobson was the one that got away.  His life wasn't anything like Jeff Dahmer's, but quite the opposite, even if his dad did creep him out at times.  Nature vs. Nurture...the ultimate experiment.

Now, Jeff  is with Shawn Castillo, an ex-military man contracted by the government to hunt down these killers.  They pave a road of death and destruction and it's only a matter of time when the escapees meet their pursuer, and the ultimate stand-off for power begins...

Girard writes a novel with a specific YA audience in mind. The book is filled with both fact and fiction not only about the original serial killers, but government conspiracy and science as well. Therein lies another aspect of this novel that will keep readers intrigued, and if they're like me, getting online to see if the author is telling fact or fiction.  Although the pace of the book can slow down at times, the driving question remains if the main character possesses the same murderous rage the other do.  Interestingly enough, Girard creates an adult parallel novel based on the viewpoint of Castillo, the mercenary extraordinaire, which plays into the questions and scenes veiled thoughout this YA novel.  I, for one, enjoyed this book and its concept. Recommended for mature teens.
Perfect pairing with Derf Backderf's non-fiction graphic novel, My Friend Dahmer.

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