PROJECT CAIN – Geoffrey Girard
Cain Series, Book 2
978-1-4424-7696-7 (Hardcover)
September 2013
Teen/Young Adult Thriller Fiction

Radnor, Pennsylvania and on the Road

Jeffrey Jacobson was not conceived in the usual fashion. He was created from the DNA of a man now dead. He was carried for a few months in a surrogate's womb, and from there he was artificially nourished in a vat of fluid until he reached the maturity of an eight year-old boy. He was adopted at his “birth” by one of the scientists behind the cloning project. Dr. Jacobson fed him memories of his supposed early life and home schooled him for the next eight years. In a way, Jeff was lucky; Jacobson was a pretty good father. Some of the other boys weren't so lucky as soon becomes clear.

Jeff's world is turned upside down when his father tells him of his part in an experiment fostered by the Department of Defense. Some of history's most famous serial killers' DNA was harvested to make multiple clones. For the first time Jeff learns he had no mother and that he is an identical replica of Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer in the eighties who murdered (and cannibalized) at least fifteen young men. After telling Jeff this, his “father” gives him some notes to read and leaves, telling Jeff he should not let himself be caught by the DSTI. (That's the Dynamic Solutions Technology Institute, a US military funded research facility behind the development of biological weapons, including human ones!)

Jeff manages to duck the carload of men looking for him by hiding in a secret room. But then he's found by a lone man who turns out to be a possible ally. He's Shawn Castillo, a former black ops soldier hired to find six recently escaped cloned teens. It seems Dr. Jacobson freed them; a couple of hostages were taken, and a couple of dead left behind. Jeff wants answers and to find his father. Jeff and Castillo reluctantly team up to search.

A chase begins that takes Jeff and Castillo from place to place. I can't begin to describe the horrors they investigate between periods of boredom. The evolution of the relationship between Jess and Castillo (who has his own troubled past) becomes fascinating. Other characters emerge who affect their quest. Besides the grisly murders to give readers chills, there are a lots of “facts” given about the nasty excesses committed by the government and scientists.

Though PROJECT CAIN tells essentially the same story as CAIN'S BLOOD, it's a very different book. While the latter is formatted as many such thriller novels—revealed through various points of view—PROJECT CAIN is narrated by Jeff in his unique voice. No reader could fail to be moved by this young man's predicament as he tries to figure out who and what he is. Some of his questions: What is good and evil? Do we all have both within us? Is Jeff destined to become like his forebear? It's clear from the story that some of the young clones have done so.

Neither CAIN'S BLOOD nor PROJECT CAIN is an easy book. I found myself putting them down for a while before I just had to pick them up again, especially Jeff's solo. While PROJECT CAIN stands well on its own, it wasn't spoiled by my having read CAIN'S BLOOD. If you are a reader of horror/ thriller fiction, these books are definitely for you. If that's not your usual choice but wish to try something different, you can't go wrong with either title…or both

Jane Bowers