April 15, 2013

ARC Review: The Humanity Project by: Jean Thompson

The Humanity Project by: Jean Thompson (April 23, 2013)
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
352 pages
Genre: General Fiction
Goodreads Summary: After surviving a shooting at her high school, Linnea is packed off to live with her estranged father, Art, who doesn’t quite understand how he has suddenly become responsible for raising a sullen adolescent girl. Art’s neighbor, Christie, is a nurse distracted by an eccentric patient, Mrs. Foster, who has given Christie the reins to her Humanity Project, a bizarre and well-endowed charity fund. Just as mysteriously, no one seems to know where Conner, the Fosters’ handyman, goes after work, but he has become the one person Linnea can confide in, perhaps because his own home life is a war zone: his father has suffered an injury and become addicted to painkillers. As these characters and many more hurtle toward their fates, the Humanity Project is born: Can you indeed pay someone to be good? At what price?

Thompson proves herself at the height of her powers in The Humanity Project, crafting emotionally suspenseful and thoroughly entertaining characters, in which we inevitably see ourselves. Set against the backdrop of current events and cultural calamity, it is at once a multifaceted ensemble drama and a deftly observant story of our twenty-first-century society

My Review

Was this a good book? Yes. Was it an epic book? No. Maybe it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I tired writing this review several times to make it coherent, so I apologize in advance if it is still kind of hard to follow.

Thompson writes beautiful prose and that is my favorite aspect of The Humanity Project. It captivated me from the very beginning. The writing really spoke to me. My second favorite thing is the characters. They are unique and interesting, each having their own problem they are trying to figure out/overcome, with a focus on poverty, messed up families and more. I felt a connection with these characters, I felt for them, and when I care about a character, the book is way more engaging. This novel does focus on the idea of hope and redemption, but sadly not enough to make this book epic, in a sense that it changed my life or made me stop and think for very long.

There were two aspects of the book that I was not a fan of. One was The Humanity Project plot, I felt like the synopsis was misleading. WARNING: Semi-Spoilers Ahead in this paragraph! Although the general story-lines of each character was good and had that sense of trying to figure out if people can change, the actual Humanity Project wasn’t really anywhere to be seen. I was thinking that the whole concept of “paying someone to be good” would physically come in to play, but it never did. This to me was kind of weird since it was the title of the novel and was mentioned in the synopsis. I’m not sure if I just didn’t read "deep" enough into the book or what, but I wanted to see actual payouts to people for doing good and be able to see how that would work or not work.

The second aspect of the novel that I wasn’t a big fan of was the case of the "overused point of views." The amount of point of views in this book (and its general feel) reminded me of The Casual Vacancy. Although I don’t mind this way of telling a story, I felt like a couple of the point of views (by people who were not even mentioned in the synopsis) were so minor that they were not really needed at all, especially because in the end every character wasn't really given an ending, many were left hanging.

I know I talk more about the negatives than the positives of The Humanity Porject, but sometimes I find those easier to discuss. Believe me when I say that I still enjoyed reading this book, I was just expecting a little bit more. I want to emphasis that this wasn’t a bad book, it just didn't live up to my expectations that the synopsis gave me.

If you are looking for a very well written thought provoking read with great characters then you should give this book a try. What have you got to lose?

** I received a free copy of this book from netgalley and the publisher for an honest review. 



  1. This one sounds rather disappointing! I think I would take issue with many of the same things as well, unfortunately.

    1. It was pretty good, but it just wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I wanted more. Sadness.

  2. For such a hot topic, especially after more recent events, it's really disappointing to hear that the book wasn't more effective. I mean, the whole point of writing something like this is to leave the reader with an impactful resolution or some deeper level of questioning and it sounds like that just didn't happen here which is very unfortunate.

    1. I know! I was waiting to really feel something and have my emotions messed with, but it just didn't happen.

  3. Hmph I don't tihnk this is my cup of tea either. And I don't know why some things would be alluded to in the synopsis and not a focus in the book...? Even with good writing and interesting characters I don't know if that's enough to pull me in.

    1. I really don't like when a synopsis is misleading. That is so tricky. :(


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