The Project by Courtney Summers, 4 Stars

What is it that is so interesting about cults? Like, we all know they are bad, but its just so fascinating hearing the stories of someone who was part of one and escaped. Courtney Summer’s newest book, The Project is all about one-such cult, The Unity Project.

You do have to wonder, how do people get involved in cults? Because we all hear cautionary tales about not getting involved in cults. And I feel like the signs that you may be entering a cult are pretty basic. First, there’s some leader that every treats like the messiah. Second, he might be sleeping with multiple members of the group. Third, no one in the group communicates with anyone outside the group. Fourth, people are expected to perform their keep doing work or chores. Fifth, there might be a pyramid scheme. This is pretty basic stuff.

And yet time and again people join cults. Who knows what they are thinking. Because how often do you hear about “good cults?” Like, never. They all end up bad or twisted. But I digress.

From the Publisher:

“The Unity Project saved my life.”

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.

“The Unity Project murdered my son.”

When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its charismatic and mysterious leader, Lev Warren, he proposes a deal: if she can prove the worst of her suspicions about The Unity Project, she may expose them. If she can’t, she must finally leave them alone.

But as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members, and spends more time with Lev, it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.

Welcome to The Unity Project.

My Review:

At the beginning of The Project, we see things through Bea’s eyes. We see how scared she was when at the age of six, her newborn sister, Lo, almost didn’t make it. Then we flash forward twelve years to another time when she didn’t think her sister would make it. This reminded me a bit of If I Stay, with the girl who is in a horrific crash and her entire family has passed except for her. So traumatic!

Then we switch to Lo, who did in fact survive. And she lived with her Aunt for 5 years until she recently passed away. Because as much as Bea loved Lo, she left and joined a cult instead of sticking around to hep raise her in the absence of their parents who died in the crash.

Lo has been dealing with a lot. She’s lost her parents, she has a huge scar on her face, and she is left to wonder everyday, why her sister left. She wants to write and has secured a job as an assistant at a magazine she would love to write for. After she witnesses a horrific suicide, her boss really wants to find out more about the cult that Bea has joined. Reeling from what she saw, and wanting to find out why Bea left her, while also seeing it as her chance to get her foot in the door and write an article, Lo starts digging.

I can’t give much away, but it’s pretty standard cult fair. And by that, I mean amazing. What is the allure of these types of stories? I think its’ the unknown and the fact that people join for no good reason. So they must really hate the alternative, their normal lives.

The Project is a great read, you definitely won’t regret picking this one up. Yes, it’s technically YA, but it’s one of the YA books with amazing crossover adult potential. Special thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced e-galley in exhange for my honest review. This one is out…wait for it…TODAY!! Hurray! Get your copy:


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