Project Killer by J.L. Beck

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I’m honestly not sure how to describe this book. I’m not even sure how I feel about it. I read it in one sitting, so that says a lot. I was hooked from the very beginning, dying to know what the outcome would be.

First off, half the story is told in flashbacks. I understand the need for them in this particular book, but they are not something that I relish. Due to the main character’s loss of memory, it was important to have memories pop up that would clarify some of the actions of the characters. The fact is, there was hardly any action, though. Girl loses the teenage love of her life to cancer, she becomes obsessed with his memory and trying to find a cure at an evil corporation, PGI, she then finds out that he is, in fact, alive! So far, not surprising, and it is followed by a whole lot of memories before a quick dash of suspense at the very, very end.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Killer, aka Maggie’s great love, formerly known as Diesel, (yes, apparently his real name is as cool as the name he earns) is part of the evil corporation who claimed to be curing his cancer. Instead, they faked his death, cured him, and turned him into an uncontrollable killer, hence the name. It’s not told how, but a bunch of these men who were tortured in the name of science, escape and hunker down in some enormous building. I was confused throughout, because they seem to be free of PGI, yet there are little bits of PGI still in their lives, such as nurses and drugs. Perhaps, I was so busy rushing through in my excitement that I missed what exactly their bunker was and how they got there, but I doubt it. The second book’s blurb alludes to many secrets and blurring of the truth, so I just accept the fact that I am confused and everything will be resolved later in another book.

The predictable moment when these teen lovers meet again would be typical and boring, except he doesn’t remember her and tries to kill her. The leader of their so-called band of violent, abused men, Gauge, decides to bring her back with them to their hideout. Since he doesn’t know that she works for PGI, I assume he was able to see that she recognized Killer, otherwise, there is no explanation as to why they would drag her along. After all, Killer leaves dead bodies in his wake everywhere he goes. What is one unconscious woman in a club?

Gauge decides that he is going to use Maggie to try to force Killer to face the memories that keep trying to break through the barrier, and to get back in touch with his emotions. Currently, Killer feels rage and want-to-rip-your-heart-out-through-your-rib-cage rage. He’s just one ball of murderous anger. Putting them together does spark memories, so it turns out to be a solid plan.

The flashbacks are a mishmash of Diesel and Maggie being brutalized by evil Roger, who coincidently takes over for his father at PGI and makes Maggie’s life hell, and Diesel continually telling her to leave him alone. He claims that Maggie only brings Roger’s wrath down on them both. There are many instances given in the book that make me choke up a bit; there wasn’t an easy moment. Even when they “made love” the first time, after she was almost raped at the prom, it was far from sweet or romantic. I came to the conclusion that I only liked Diesel for the few times he was able to protect her before dying and that I only liked Maggie for loving Diesel enough to endure his adamant, unkind rebuffs of her affections. Both were trying to protect each other, but they did a crap job. As adults, Killer is no longer Diesel and Maggie is still a doormat.

The story is quick and written with a low-level of details. Surroundings and physical characteristics are basically skipped. She’s beautiful, he’s hot, the compound (whatever you want to call it) is immense, and there are a ton of buff, deadly guys. Details would have been a welcome break from the intense emotions that bombard the reader from one page to the next. Instead, it’s one bumpy ride without reprieve. I’m not even sure how to categorize this, because it has elements of love, but they are mostly past tense and what she clings to. There is a bit of action, some of it through flashbacks, and the majority of the book is the two of them sitting together while he remembers. It’s dark, not steamy, not action-packed, creates uncomfortable sensations, and has more than a touch of “What the cuss is going on?”

For the rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – I’m not sure. Like I said, it has a touch of romance, action, violence, mystery. It’s almost in a genre of its own. This is definitely for adults only. I’m a grown woman and there were scenes that made my skin crawl, so teenagers are definitely out.
  • Level of sexuality – they think about it and there is one memory of actual sex that is not joyful at all. In fact, the scene made me grimace, but I don’t think that was the intention. There were a few references to sex that left women bleeding and begging for these monsters to stop, which increased the “eww” factor and those were done on purpose.
  • Was there graphic language? He kills almost indiscriminately and was abused horrifically. It’s a given that there’s some swearing.
  • Did I cry? My throat tightened a few times during her memories of losing him to cancer and his memories of torture. I was able to suck the tears back up into my tear ducts before they could fall, though.
  • Is this part of a series? This is book one in the Project Series.
  • Level of character development – I feel that Killer and Maggie are written fairly well. The lack of details took away from the overall sense of who they are, but the memories are enough to get a good feel for them as people. Roger is just evil, in every way possible, from teenager to adult. He’s one-sided, but it’s doubtful that he’s anything other than nefarious. Every single other character was like a ghost who appeared when needed and then vanished. I basically forgot they were even there, until the need arose.

This book has a lot of strengths. It also has some drawbacks that could have made this a really solid story. It’s dark, it’s disturbing, it’s addicting. I give it  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars. For anyone who wants a book that is a very quick, intriguing read that is a bit disturbing, this is the perfect book.

Available here on Barnes & Noble

Available here on Amazon

 

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