ARC BOOK REVIEW: The Project by Courtney Summers

Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Format: Kindle
Genre:  YA/Thriller

Publisher: St. Martin Press
Buy: Kindle | Audio


"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. 


When I first started this book I felt there were similarities to the Hulu original The Path but this book goes much deeper.  Lo is a struggling 19 year old trying to make her way in the world.  She aspires to be a writer.  She also aspires to take down the Unity Project, the group some are calling a cult that her sister has been involved in since Lo and her parents were in a car accident.  For years Lo has had no contact with her sister as the Unity Project asks all member to sever ties to people and things in their past.  The leader of the Project, Lev never grants interviews but out of the blue he contacts Lo and tells her he will give her an exclusive.  Lo jumps at the chance hoping to finally reconnect with her sister. 

The story goes back and forth between Lo and Bea's experiences.  We find out why Bea joined the Unity Project and lots of other secrets.  This is a fast paced book from the beginning and shines light on what so many people go through when they are looking for a better way.  It also reminds me of the recent documentary I saw on NXIVM cult that lead so many into what they thought was a more meaningful way to life but ultimately was run by a misogynistic egomaniac who wanted to create a society where men owned women and they were subservient to him. 

This is an easy read since it is a YA book but does deal with some difficult issues such as death, child abuse, physical abuse, and brainwashing in the name of "religion". It shows how easy it is to get sucked down a dark path and accept some very bad things when you believe. This is a brilliant book. I look forward to more from this author. Thank you netgalley and the publisher for gifting me this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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