Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Review: Project New Age - Daniel Piros

Extent: 162 pages
Publisher: Self Published
Pub Date: 26th July 2011

For sixteen years, they thought they were totally human. Now, three kids discover that their parents genetically engineered them as part of "The Project", and it's their destiny to save the world from... something... somehow... sometime... With no further information on their destiny, all the human-wolf hybrids can do is get used to their new forms, try to hide the ever-present ears on the top of their heads from the other kids at school, and listen to the police scanner, waiting for someone to commit a crime in the peaceful "town" of Keswick, VA.

Sometimes I don't have the patience to sit through a waffle-ridden 600 page epic with the story starting at around page 200. It's at times like these that I reach for a book like Project New Age. There's no hanging about in this book, you're hit with the story on page 1 and there is a distinct lack of waffle throughout. In fact, it's so devoid of waffle there were moments when I had to sit back for a few minutes and invent some of my own. That just shows you how well trained traditional published books have gotten me really.

In describing Project New Age, however, I think "traditional" is the last word I would use. It's pretty unique in every way really. It reads a lot like manga or a graphic novel where settings and descriptions are allocated to the artwork with only speech and space-time locators written down. Except, there's no art in Project New Age. At first I found this a bit unnerving, it's not something you find in 99% of books, but after a while I got it. Daniel has left the majority of the work up to you, the reader. Sort of, fill-in-the-blanks reading. Don't get me wrong, it's not devoid of all description, the story is just wrapped up more subtly than in other books. I thought it would hinder the plot and leave the characters in 2D but actually the story really builds and strengthens towards the end while I grew quite attached to the characters who developed very distinct personalities. Chris, for example, the narrator, can be witty and soft one minute and then deeply philosophical the next. If only there were more 15 year olds who thought as much as him!

Another original feature of Project New Age is that it takes a lot of elements that are very popular at the moment - paranormal, superhero, small town with a secret - but mixes them up and presents them with more than a hint of satire. So many paranormal books take themselves extremely seriously, striving to keep a frown on the reader's face, which certainly works if you're in that sort of mood (and I frequently am!) but Project New Age is a lighter alternative where the characters openly mock the threats in the story and some plot elements are more than a little bizarre - all I'm going to say is watch out for the parasitic guitars!

If you are looking for an orthodox read full of lilting, colourful descriptions, the likes of which would shower it in awards and have reviewers racking their brains to find novel adjectives to describe the description then you better look elsewhere. But if you want someone to talk to you straight and let you fill in the blanks with your own imagination and provide you with new ideas then look no further.

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