Series: Assassin Fall #1
Published by Entangled: Teen on August 1st 2017
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Today I’m participating in the Chapter by Chapter Blog Tour for Project Pandora by Aden Polydoros. It’s my first time participating in a blog tour, so I’m pretty excited to be trying something new here on The Bookish Libra. My stop on the tour is a book review, so without further ado, here are my thoughts on Project Pandora.
Project Pandora, written by Aden Polydoros is the first book in the Assassin Fall series. It’s a dark and gritty story that focuses on Project Pandora, a secret program designed to create a team of teenage assassins. Using mind control and psychotropic drugs, the Project Pandora doctors have systematically “programmed” these teens from birth to “activate” when they hear the phrase “Olympus is Rising.” They could be in the middle of anything – at home, at work, at school, anywhere — but as soon as they hear that phrase, they immediately switch over into assassin mode until the mission they’ve been assigned is complete. As if that isn’t alarming enough, once they come out of that “activated” state, the teens have no memory of what they have done or the murders they have committed. Creepy, right? Why on Earth would anyone want to turn a bunch of teenagers into assassins? What’s their endgame with this project? And how have they gotten away with it thus far? As soon as all of these questions started swarming around in my head, I knew I was hooked…
The novel follows the perspectives of four teens who have been trained/brain washed by Project Pandora. First, there’s Tyler and Shannon who, when they aren’t in full-on assassin mode, appear to be pretty typical teenagers. They go to high school, do normal teen activities, and they also both happen to live with foster families. Then there’s Katherine, who is also a fairly typical teen, although she is also the daughter of a senator and has a bit of a rebellious streak because she’s tired of her parents expecting her to be Little Miss Perfect all the time. Lastly, there’s Hades. As you can probably guess based on his name, there is very little about Hades that is typical. Hades is also the only one of the four who is aware of his role in Project Pandora.
So what happens when those who have unknowingly been a part of this project slowly begin to realize they are not fully in control of their minds and bodies and are committing crimes while under someone else’s control? Can they break free? And most importantly, can they stop Project Pandora, which clearly has been created with a sinister purpose in mind?
There’s so much to love about Project Pandora. It’s one of the more unique storylines I’ve read and it appeals to both my love of science fiction and my love of fast-paced thrillers. Here are just a few of the book’s highlights for me:
Multiple Points of View. Sometimes multiple points of view works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. In the case of Project Pandora, however, I thought presenting the story through the eyes of several who are under the influence of mind control was truly fascinating. The reader gets to follow these characters through their day-to-day lives, see what happens to trigger them to flip over into assassin mode, and then watch them flip right back over once the kill has been made. It does make for a somewhat disjointed narrative at times as characters like Tyler and Shannon start having these almost out-of-body moments while they’re in the middle of a “job” as if they’re watching themselves kill people. I think the disjointedness is to be expected though since both you and the characters you’re reading about are simultaneously trying to piece together what is happening and why. As I was reading scenes like these, I kept thinking what an incredible film this would be.
Hades. Hades quickly became my favorite character in Project Pandora. I don’t know if that was supposed to happen, but I always find morally ambiguous characters so fascinating, and Hades is about as morally ambiguous as they come. He’s definitely what I would consider to be an anti-hero. Not only is Hades aware that he is participating in this project, he even goes so far as to tattoo notches on his forearm to keep track of how many he has killed. Even though he’s a hardcore killer who seems pretty content to do what he does, there’s still just something about Hades that made me very sympathetic to him.
Dark and Full of Action and Suspense. Pretty much everything about this book is dark, twisted, and full of mystery and intrigue. The idea that a group of people could be twisted enough to turn a bunch of children into weapons was mind blowing, and I just couldn’t stop reading until I knew if these kids would be okay or not. If they broke free of the mind control, would they be safe or would the others involved with the Project come after them if they suddenly went rogue? Would the people behind this project be brought to justice for both the murders they’re responsible for and for what they did to these children? There’s just so much there to keep sucking you into the story and turning those pages! I literally could not put this book down once I got started.
Unique Format. In addition to using alternating chapters from the four teens to tell the story, the author has also inserted case files throughout the novel. In an almost flashback-like fashion, these case files provide insight into each of the main characters while they were going through the ‘programming’ phase of the Project. I thought it was a creative way to add background information about each character and about the inner workings of the Project itself. It also lent the novel an almost sci-fi feel, which I really liked.
Overall I really enjoyed the read. I did, however, have a couple of areas where I just wanted a little more from the story. I’d classify these as my own personal reading quirks though and they probably wouldn’t faze most other readers.
Not enough connection with the characters. Even though I had tremendous sympathy for them because of what had been done to them and felt outraged by the whole concept of the project, I just didn’t really feel all that connected to any of the characters on a more personal level. I feel confident though that this will change now that this first book has laid all of the groundwork for the rest of the series and we can focus even more on the characters.
Needed more information about the Project and its motives. I really wanted more information about Project Pandora. We’re given a number of hints to indicate what it’s all about, but I thought a lot of the information was a bit vague and was left with more questions than answers. Again, I’m sure my questions will be answered in future books, but I’m just impatient, haha!
If you’re looking for a light and fluffy read, this is not the book you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you like a book that will take you on a dark and twisted, action-packed ride, with a plot that’s a conspiracy theorist’s dream, then Project Pandora will blow you away!
RATING: 4 STARS
Thanks so much to Netgalley, Entangled Teen, and of course to Aden Polydoros for allowing me the opportunity to preview and review Project Pandora.
Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight— Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.
Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control?
In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down—before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass…
FOLLOW THE REST OF THE PROJECT PANDORA BLOG TOUR:
Project Pandora Prize Pack (US) or a $10 Amazon Gift card (INT)