cover image Project Cain

Project Cain

Geoffrey Girard. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4424-7696-7

Girard launches an ambitious experiment with this YA thriller—releasing simultaneously with an adult companion, Cain’s Blood (see review, p. 44)—in which battle-weary government operative Shawn Castillo teams up with the teenage clone of Jeffrey Dahmer to stop a murder spree committed by other killer clones. Told from Jeff’s point of view, this tense, terse, and often nightmarish tale delves into the question of “nature versus nature,” as Jeff is told of his origins and rescued by Castillo before he can be captured and taken to the secret facility that commissioned his creation. As Jeff and Castillo cross the country seeking the clones of the Boston Strangler, Ted Bundy, and another, more ruthless Dahmer, they form an uneasy alliance, always one step behind their targets. While the premise is intriguing and the execution solid, the story itself is muted, told with minimal dialogue and filtered through Jeff’s inexperienced point of view, giving it an extra layer of emotional distance and making it feel like he is just a character in Castillo’s tale—a sidekick telling the hero’s story. Ages 14–up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Sept.)