Friday, February 4, 2011
PROJECT 17 Review
High atop Hathorne Hill, near 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. On the eve of the hospital's demolition, six teens break in to spend the night and film a movie about their experiences. 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 a night with no parents. But what starts as a dare quickly escalates into a nightmare. Behind the crumbling walls, down every dark passageway, and in each deserted room, they will unravel the mysteries of those who once lived there and the spirits who still might.
I am a huge fan of creepy, but creepy must always have a purpose and that was why I loved Project 17. I know, I know, I'm getting ahead of myself, but I truly enjoyed every part of reading this book. It's like reading the Blair Witch Project, except more things happen. It's intense and it's in your face and the heart pounding doesn't stop until the end, yet even then you're left with trembling hands, unsure of how to take what happened.
So let's begin with the characters, shall we? Characters are always a big thing for me because I need to feel something for them in order to care about what happens. Project 17 is told in alternating viewpoints of the people who are in the asylum that night. Now, I have a big problem with alternating viewpoint in YA literature because books are so often written in this fashion when they don't need to be. Project 17 needs to be written in alternating viewpoints in order to understand the story. Plus, it adds a lot to the creep factor when you're able to get inside character's heads and see what they're seeing when they see it rather than being told what the character saw by another character.
And the setting. Wow. Danvers State Hospital is a real place. Creep factor increasing here, anyone? The book includes a map of the asylum. Here's where Project 17 breaks another rule I generally have about books. I don't like maps, but Project 17's map came in handy to see the size, the shape, the general layout of the asylum. I could never imagine being in there for a night. The place is literally huge. The map helps add to that, as well as provide some barrings in situations where the characters are moving from one place to another.
As for the plot, I felt as if it moved along a pretty steady pace, neither slowing or speeding up too quickly. Many times I wondered where the plot was going, but this was a good thing. I love wondering when I'm reading. If I don't have to think, the book isn't worth reading which is why I loved reading Project 17 so much. I needed to think in order to get through it even when it scared me past the point of thinking.
There's something about reading a creepy scene versus seeing a creepy scene that gets to me more. I'm not a person who scares easily. I sit at horror movies and don't scream or tremble or anything of the sort but Project 17's story got to me. When scary things happened, I felt the hair on my airs raise tall and proud as my heart beat faster. When reading a book, there's no chance to close your eyes when it gets scary and Project 17 has many moments in which you want to close your eyes until the horror goes away.
I think part of the horror of the book is the idea of the asylum. The hydrotherapy, for example, in which they locked a patient in a bathtub for hours, thinking it would somehow make them more sane. For some reason, I've always loved stories about asylums for the mere fact that nothing creepy needs to happen for the tale to be both creepy and sad. The story told within Project 17 of a young girl sent to the asylum grates on your nerves as the girl deteriorates before your eyes. I loved every moment of it.
It doesn't happen often that I finish a book and don't have anything negative to say about it. My only complaint about Project 17 is that it should have been longer, there should have been more to read, but this is only because I loved it so much. Overall, a great creepy read for late at night, Project 17 is something that will keep you thinking and wondering long after the book is put away, the story finished.