Friday, July 13, 2007

Project 17

Project 17, by Laurie Faria Stolarz, is an edgy, character driven mystery featuring six high school seniors and an overnight excursion to Danvers State Hospital; a place where family’s sent their insane relatives and the lobotomy is purported to have been first practiced. Derik Lapointe is under pressure to take over running his parent’s diner after graduation. Unwilling to settle for this destiny, he plans to enter a television film contest and recruits five classmates to be in a documentary (a la The Blair Witch Project) of an overnight visit to the mental hospital. Each teen has a personal agenda for participating, Mimi’s grandmother was committed there and she yearns to learn her fate, Chet is escaping an alcoholic abusive father, Liza needs an extra-curricular activity to boost her Harvard application, and thespians Tony and Greta see the film as an opportunity for fame. However, once inside all bets are off. The night progresses and each corridor and room tells it’s own haunting tale of misery, abuse, and death. Compelled to learn the mystery of Christine Belle, they soon find themselves unable to leave until her spirit has been vanquished.

Characters are somewhat stereotypical, Derik is popular, Liza is smart, Mimi is somewhat Goth (they call her Halloween), Chet their class clown, and Tony and Greta constantly emote drama club. However, Stolarz moves beyond those constraints giving each distinct and individual voices within their own chapters throughout the book. The dialogue is seamless even when moving between chapters and voices is sometimes jarring. Ultimately this process allows readers to see the characters not only as they see themselves, but also through their classmate’s eyes. It’s a sure bet nothing will ever be the same for any of them as well-timed epilogues provide a satisfying closure steering clear of any systemic, unwanted, happily-ever-after. There is sure to be an audience for this suspenseful, disturbing tale.

Tags: , , ,

No comments: