Tuesday, September 3 was the release date for Geoffrey Girard’s high concept pair of thrillers: Cain’s Blood and Project Cain. These fit perfectly into my RIP VIII challenge, so I started reading as soon as they downloaded to my kindle.
The DNA of the world’s most notorious serial killers has been cloned by the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a new breed of bioweapon. Now in Phase Three, the program includes dozens of young men who have no clue as to their evil heritage. Playing a twisted game of nature vs. nurture, scientists raise some of the clones with loving families and others in abusive circumstances. But everything changes when the most dangerous boys are set free by their creator. A man with demons of his own, former black ops soldier Shawn Castillo is hot on their trail. But Castillo didn’t count on the quiet young man he finds hiding in an abandoned house—a boy who has just learned he is the clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. As Jeffrey and Castillo race across the country on the trail of the rampaging teens, Castillo must protect the boy who is the embodiment of his biggest fears—and who may also be his last hope. Melding all-too-plausible science and ripped from- the-headlines horror, Cain’s Blood is a stunning debut about the potential for good and evil in us all.
[Plot Summary courtesy of Goodreads].
It was difficult for me to decide if I should read Cain’s Blood first, or the companion YA novel told from the perspective of one of the characters. I picked this one, deciding that it would give me a broader overview of the story as a whole. Over all, I think that was a good decision, but I will know for sure once I finish the second, which I am reading next.
I found this book fast-paced. It grabbed my attention, and maintained that attention through the entire reading experience. There is a lot, and I mean a lot of graphic violence, including sexual violence, and disturbing imagery in this book. I would not recommend this book for people who are squeamish, or who are triggered by graphic sexual violence. Think The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and then multiply it by about eleventy-billion, and you’ll have an idea of the level of violence of this book.
The book did have a major weakness, and that was a basic inability to connect to the characters. They were all pretty much completely inhumane, and it was difficult, if not impossible, to become attached to them. The character of Jeff, who is the MC of the companion novel, comes the closest to possessing some actual humanity. The technothriller aspect of the book was also interesting, but not all that convincing.
Overall, I think that this was a book that was stylish and enjoyable – if disturbing – while consumed, but which will not stay with me for very long. I am certain that it will not make my top ten list for 2013.
The one last complaint – Gary Ridgway was known as the Green River Killer, not the Green Valley Killer, and he operated in the Pacific Northwest which is nowhere near the Northeast United States. This was a small error, but it was glaring and annoying, since the author had obviously done a great deal of homework on famous serial killers, yet he managed to completely flub this one.
I followed up Cain’s Blood with this one. I rated Cain’s Blood at 3 stars on Goodreads. I added a star to this one because I personally think that it is the more interesting book of the two.
Fifteen-year-old Jeff Jacobson had never heard of Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous serial killer who brutally murdered seventeen people more than twenty years ago. But Jeff’s life changes forever when the man he’d thought was his father hands him a government file telling him he was constructed in a laboratory only seven years ago, part of a top-secret government cloning experiment called ‘Project CAIN’.
There, he was created entirely from Jeffrey Dahmer’s DNA. There are others like Jeff—those genetically engineered directly from the most notorious murderers of all time: The Son of Sam, The Boston Strangler, Ted Bundy . . . even other Jeffrey Dahmer clones. Some raised, like Jeff, in caring family environments; others within homes that mimicked the horrific early lives of the men they were created from.
When the most dangerous boys are set free by the geneticist who created them, the summer of killing begins. Worse, these same teens now hold a secret weapon even more dangerous than the terrible evil they carry within. Only Jeff can help track the clones down before it’s too late. But will he catch the ‘monsters’ before becoming one himself?[plot summary courtesy of Goodreads]
So, to expand: Cain’s Blood is a very traditional thriller, written in very traditional thriller fashion. Third person narrator. Lots of gore. Government conspiracies abound. Clones of serial killers. Former military special ops dude is hired by private company doing the government’s dirty work to clean up some secret and ill-advised weapons development that’s happening on the down low. Think: Halliburton + Seal Team Six + escaped serial killer clones on a rampage. It’s a ripping read, but there are dozens of books just like it published every month. It puts its own spin on the genre, but it is firmly within the genre.
Project Cain, though, isn’t as easy to pigeonhole. I did read Cain’s Blood first, so I’m not sure if it would have been as easy to follow without already knowing the story. It’s written in the first person, in a retrospective fashion. Some of the other reviews note that it contains a lot of info dumping, and that’s true. It does. There is a lot of researched information – presented in a rather dry and reportorial (I’m not sure if I just made that word up or not) fashion by our narrator, Jeff.
But, in my opinion, it totally works. Because this is Jeff’s story, and Jeff is learning all of this information as he experiences the most disorienting, stunning and terrible events of his life. One day he is one thing, the next day is he is something totally different, and this book is his process of learning who – and what – he is, and coming to an understanding of what it means. We are getting a retrospectively real time narrative from Jeff.
It absolutely isn’t necessary to read this book to get Cain’s Blood. I’m not sure if it’s necessary to read Cain’s Blood to get this one. There is a lot of overlap between the stories (right down to the inclusion of some of the same verbiage in both). I am a very fast reader, so I didn’t feel bogged down or bored by this, but I wonder if someone who is a slower reader would feel bored by the retakes.
I’m not sorry I read them both. I preferred Project Cain. That’s all.