341 pages (Hardcover)
Simon & Schuster BFYR
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Sixteen-year-old Jeff Jacobson had never heard of Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous serial killer who brutally murdered seventeen people more than twenty years ago. But then Jeff discovers he was constructed in a laboratory only eight years ago, part of a top-secret government cloning experiment called Project CAIN. And scientists created him entirely from Jeffrey Dahmer's DNA.
Jeff isn't the only teenage serial-killer clone. Others have been genetically engineered using the DNA of the Son of Sam, the Boston Strangler, and Ted Bundy. Some clones were raised, like Jeff, in caring family environments; others within homes that mimicked the horrific early lives of the serial killers they were created from.
When the most dangerous of the boys are set free, the summer of killing begins. Worse, they hold a secret weapon even more deadly than the terrible evil they carry within.
Can Jeff help catch the "monsters" before becoming one himself?
This is one of those books that I had been anxiously awaiting a long time ago. It came out, I bought it in pure excitement, and then put it on my nightstand to be read after I finished the several that I was in the middle of. Somehow, miracle of miracles, I am actively reading my way through my back-logged to-be-read pile this summer. Top of the list: Project Cain.
The premise of this story was one that interested me to no end. Serial killers? Sign me up! (As long as they stay in the pages.) And the added mixture of cloning to the plot sounded like it would add a unique twist. This also interested the Biology major in me. The question of how much nature and nurture each have to do with the way a person turns out is such an engaging question that I couldn't imagine not enjoying this book. For the most part I was correct.
The story was fast-paced and full of action toward the end. However, two things held me up a bit. Firstly, there was a lot of soul searching and inner monologue, especially in the beginning of the book. While it made sense, as the main character, Jeff (as in the clone of Jeffery Dahmer), found out he was not a normal boy but was in fact a clone. Unfortunately I was not really in an inner journey sort of mood. The second thing that I wasn't overly fond of was the way the dialogue was written. Girard wrote it in a style that was meant to hopefully be engaging to young readers, in particularly boys. While the style, full of short sentences and lists did contribute to the fast pace of the novel, I disliked that quotation marks weren't used. It threw me of a bit and I never really adjusted to it.
Another thing that I struggled a bit with was that the characters didn't excite me. Jeff struggled with his identity for the majority of the novel and some of the other characters fell flat due the journal-like format of the story. The growth of the other characters was lacking and there relationships to the main character were hard to understand.
However, one thing I loved about this was the amount of research that was clearly put into the novel. The number of facts and statistics were nearly overwhelming. It some other reviews I had seen that many people considered the book to much of an info-dump, but I enjoyed the conspiracies and theories, all born of fact. Besides, as the story is only written from the point of view of Jeff I can only imagine a bit of info-dump as the main character was thrown into this plot with all of the information flying at his
Overall, the story was a really intriguing concept that needed to be more finely tuned in some places in order to more emotionally involve the reader. (It is however possible that the adult version of this novel, Cain's Blood, would appeal to me more.)
I give this story a hangover level of 3 out of 5.
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