REVIEW: Project Hope by Sean Joyce

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Fiction/ Young Adult/ Dystopian Fiction, Pages: 151 (eBook), Level: Easy/Intermediate

This review is going to be a little different from all the others I have written, so please bear with me.

The reviews I post are a little different than the ones I keep. The reviews I keep on my computer begin with the exact description of the book, usually from Barnes and Noble. Then I write my summary of the book and that is what I use to begin the review I post. I am parting from that with this review because this time it actually makes a difference.

I do not remember how I came across this book. Somehow, I was offered a free eBook to review. I must have read the description because I never enter any giveaways if I am not interested in the book. I already had a couple of books on my ‘to read’ list before this one but I replied I would be happy to review the book. When I was ready to actually begin reading, I went back to the synopsis and this is what I saw:

“In the Zones, a troubled society walled off from the outside world, nineteen-year-old Dylan lives in the crossfire between rampaging gangs known as hoods, and tyrannical government guards.

Trapped in a brutal reality, he confronts the helplessness of his situation the only way he can—through his art. By day, he takes on the role of protector, caring for his little sister, Lil. By night, he lives a secret life, breaking the curfew and braving the dangerous Zones to paint the perimeter wall with his subversive images. But with the eye of the warden upon him, and the hoods tightening their grip on the Zones, inaction is no longer an option. He must do the one thing no one else has dared to—unite the downtrodden residents and reawaken their hope.”

I immediately thought, “Oh no. What have I gotten myself into?” I imagined Footloose with art instead of music and dancing, and a novel instead of a movie with a cute, although a bit nerdy, Kevin Bacon. Or maybe a superhero with special powers of art. Come on, ‘by day…. by night…’ Doesn’t that sound a little super-heroish? Then I felt really bad because I just knew I was going to dislike this book and would probably give it a bad review. However, I brushed those thoughts aside, determined to read the book with an open mind. So I began…

And then I had to continue reminding myself, for two and a half chapters, to keep an open mind. The book is only 156 pages long in my e-reader and after more than two chapters, I was a little concerned because I was having a difficult time getting into it. I was really beginning to worry because I do not have a single artistic gene in my entire body and I should have considered the description more carefully; this book and I were not going to part on friendly terms.

Then at the end of chapter 3… WHAM! There it was- that moment when you are sucked into a book and would rather read than sleep, shower or care for your children. Unfortunately, it was in the middle of the night when that moment arrived. Considering what happens at the end of chapter 3, I started to get a little nervous and kept looking toward my window worrying that someone was out there. Then when I decided I really needed to tear myself from the book and get some sleep, I could not sleep. I kept thinking about what I would do if I had to live in the Zones.

I obviously had turned a corner and was enjoying the book. I pretty much knew around page 100 that I would give Project Hope 4 out of 5 stars. The next day, I even sent my husband away with the kids so I could be alone in a quiet house and finish my book. Project Hope was absolutely not what I was expecting. It was sad and horrific. I was outraged at how callous some of the characters were. It really brought home the sentiment that a crisis brings out the best and worst in people. That is what this book portrays.

I admit that I saw the end coming. I was 90% sure of the ending and of course I was excited when I got there and sure enough, I was right. What I did not see coming was that on page 152, I started crying. That is when I knew I was giving the book 5 stars.

Reviewed by Christina

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