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Review: The Project by Brian Falkner

brian falkner the project Review: The Project by Brian Falkner

Miss Sheck is correct when she tries to convince Tommy and Luke that The Last of the Mohicans is not the most boring book in the world. The most boring book in the world, it turns out, is something far more sinister, and far less likely to be assigned for Year 8 English. But when the only existing copy of this book comes into Luke and Tommys possession, they find that theyre facing an adventure rather more enthralling than those involved in their usual pranks and mischief-making. The book has the power to change the course of history forever, and for that reason its sought after by a group who will stop at nothing to make sure that they, and only they, wield its power. Luke and Tommy find themselves racing against timequite literallyas they attempt to thwart the nefarious plans of a group of militants who are determined to ensure that their own particular vision of the future is realised.

The Project is my first encounter with'Brian Falkner, a New Zealand author known for writing quick, clever novels for the male YA set, and I must say that overall it was an enjoyable one. Like authors such as Rick Riordan, Michael Scott, and Michael Pryor, Falkner is perfectly in tune with his audience, the result being a fast-paced novel that manages to offer well-rounded characters, a deliciously zany plot involving conspiracies, time-travel, and Evil! Germans! without the bloat that often typifies the adult versions of such novels. Falkner manages to work in all manner of information about lock-picking and evesdropping, Leonardo da Vinci, steganography, and World War II-era secret societies in a manner that is largely seamless. Even in those points where it does sit a little awkwardly (with a touch of the as you know, Bob syndrome, or some overlong Wikipedia searches), Falkners characters are written with such warmth and humanity that they stop these sections from feeling dull or unwieldy.

After a slightly slow start, the book leaps into action, and never lets up, but this is not to say that its confusing or hasty in its plotting: rather, Falkners evident affinity for his characters allows them to a large degree to carry the plot, despite the pressing exigencies of all else that is going on around them. My only other gripe, pacing-wise is that perhaps things come to a close a little too quickly, leading me to wonder whether perhaps theres a sequel in the works. Given the sheer gravity of what an alternative outcome might entail (think something along the lines of Philip K Dicks The Man in the High Castle), I cant help but feel that perhaps a little more space might have been given to this. It is true, though, that Falkner does attempt to touch on these issues at some points, and there are some touching moments amidst the rollicking action, and given the nature of this type of book, I suppose its impractical to ask for more (although that in itself raises other questions again, and I could spend some time reflecting on both this and on the rather notable absence of female characters, but I digress)

Perhaps the weaker elements of the book are the fact that much of the plotting relies on chance and circumstance: the fact that the boys happen across this rare tome at all is a point that needs some major suspension of disbelief, and there are other points where things seem to favour the boys just because rather than out of any real narrative purpose. Characters, for example, seem to be deeply ambivalent at odd times, and frequently bend to the suggestions of the two boys, making me wonder whether perhaps they have extraordinary skills above and beyond their own particular spy attributes.

In all, though, this is a quick, pacy novel that offers a clever narrative and some well-written, well-rounded characters its impossible not to like. Young readers will snap up The Project, and I must admit that Id be rather partial to reading through Falkners back catalogue myself.

Rating: star Review: The Project by Brian Falknerstar Review: The Project by Brian Falknerstar Review: The Project by Brian Falknerhalfstar Review: The Project by Brian Falknerblankstar Review: The Project by Brian Falkner

With thanks to Walker Books Australia for the review copy

Other books by Brian Falkner:

brain jack falkner Review: The Project by Brian Falknertomorrow code falkner Review: The Project by Brian Falknerthe super freak falkner Review: The Project by Brian Falkner


  1. Sounds like an interesting book. I cannot remember if Ive ever read a book by a Kiwi author (but I do love Kiwi opera singer Kiri TeKanawa).

    I twitted this wonderful review to my following.

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks so much for the RT, and for stopping by to comment. The book is largely set in the US, but does have a Kiwi main character. :)

  2. Ive not read any of Faulkners books, despite me making a point of reading NZ authors. Nearly bought Tomorrow Code this morning, but didnt. Did see The Project in another store though. I will be getting one of his books soonish though, for next years 100 reading project (yeah 2-in-1 sci fi and NZ).

    • Stephanie /

      Hi Catherine,

      Thanks for stopping by! If youre a fan of fast-paced thrillers, I think youll enjoy this. Its sort of like a smart Dan Brown written for younger readers. :)