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Guest: Project 17

Courtesy of Jennifer Fischetto | | Originally posted 2.29.2012

Book number seven in the FiftyFifty.Me challenge and the Book Chick City challenge is: Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz.

Book jacket blurb:
High atop Hathorne Hill, just outside of Boston, sits Danvers State Hospital. Built in 1878 and closed in 1992, this abandoned mental institution is rumored to be the birthplace of the lobotomy. Locals have long believed the place to be haunted. They tell stories about the unmarked graves on the premises, and of cold winds felt throughout its underground tunnels. And then there are the treasures found inside, eerie remnants of its former patients: journals, hair combs, bars of soap, even old medical records--all left behind for trespassers to view.

On the eve of the hospital's demolition, six teens break in to spend the night and film a movie about their adventures. For Derik, it's an opportunity to win a filmmaking contest and save himself from a future of flipping burgers at his parents' diner. For the others, it's a chance to be on TV, or for a night with no parents. But what starts as a playful dare quickly escalates into a frenzy of nightmarish action. Behind the crumbling walls and down every dark passageway, these high schoolers will unravel the mysteries of those who once lived there and of the spirits who still might.

My Impressions:
The blurb sounds amazing, I enjoy Laurie's writing and the book is labeled horror, so I expected a great fright. I got a mediocre one. I think my expectations were off. In a few places where it headed in the direction to scare, it ended up being jokes. There were some eerie instances, and had I actually been in the hospital, I would've crapped in my pants, but they didn't touch me as a reader. Again, I believe it was my expectations. I wanted bone chilling horror, with dramatic events, and what was written was a lot more realistic. Had I gone into this expecting reality, I may have "enjoyed" it more.

As for the rest of it...the writing is great. It's due to Laurie's fantastic writing in a short story in the book I reviewed,
666: The Number of the Beast, that I sought this book out. The six teens were interesting. My favorites being Liza and Mimi, with Derik as a close third. I'd call Derik the protagonist, but the entire book is told in alternating (no sequence), first-person chapters from the various kids. A few of them, like Tony, Chet and Greta only receive a few chapters each, while Liza, Mimi and Derik tell their story in more. Each chapter is labeled by each POV, so there's no confusion. The only drawback is at times, I felt there were too many people in my head.

I found myself enthralled by the life stories of Liza, Mimi and Derik, and I couldn't wait to find out where the book ended for them, their emotional arcs. I also couldn't wait to find out answers for many questions regarding the patients (one in particular) who once lived in the hospital. Although the book ended well with the arcs, I was disappointed with the other and left with unanswered questions. Since they didn't pertain to the main story, the book was not a let down.

All-in-all, it's a good book that I recommend to those who enjoy YA suspense with horror elements. :)


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