Book Review: The Samantha Project by Stephanie Karpinske

The Samantha ProjectThe Samantha Project
Stephanie Karpinske
Crazy Dream Publishing, December 2012
ISBN 978-0-9887524-0-5
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Seventeen-year-old Samantha Andrews has a seemingly perfect life; great parents, early admission to Stanford, and her quarterback boyfriend, Colin. But a shocking secret from her past turns her world upside down. Samantha discovers she’s part of a global corporation’s genetic enhancement project. And just as she’s learning what these enhanced genes can do, the corporation decides they want her, and the technology hidden inside her, back! 

During a heart-pounding race to flee from her pursuers, she encounters Erik, another person who was part of the experimental project. He’s tall, blond, tan and he can read her thoughts!! Together, they’re both in danger and a rogue scientist discovers yet another secret lies inside them.

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Finding a young adult science fiction novel that’s fresh and interesting is not always such an easy thing to do but Stephanie Karpinske is on the right path with The Samantha Project, albeit with a few flaws. On the mildly negative side, I found Sam and her parents to be Pollyanna-ish and Sam is that goody two-shoes everybody sneers at in high school. There were moments when the three of them made me roll my eyes but, when you get right down to it, I suppose you could say their sappy behavior highlights the contrast with the changes that will begin to happen in Sam’s life and to Sam herself. The other characters that got on my nerves were the bad guys who were rather shallow and sterotypical bad guys, almost a parody of Men in Black. They are menacing but not nearly as threatening as they could be.

The other problem I had was with the REALLY slow pacing of the story in the first half of the book. The author takes much too long with the set-up and I might have given up if I hadn’t found the plot described in the synopsis intriguing and then the momentum starts to pick up. I also began to really like Samantha after a life-altering event when she begins to seem far more like a normal teen although with certain enhancements, so to speak. The girl is forced into a fast maturity but she doesn’t shy away from what must be done and her innate intelligence and fortitude comes to the fore at last.

Except for Samantha’s parents and the bad guys, I did enjoy the other characters, especially Dave and Jack, and in a rare instance of a romantic triangle being interesting (to me), I like that the reader can’t be sure from one moment to the next whether there really IS a romantic triangle. That uncertainty is heightened by the fact that both Colin and Erik are very appealing, although in distinctly different ways. The one evil-doer that stands out in the crowd, Alden Worthings, makes up for the meh-ness of his henchmen and I couldn’t help being engaged when he was on the page. Perhaps the most interesting character of all, however, is Brittany, a girl whose life is completely uprooted through no fault of her own; she personifies the unfairness of life.

So, the moral of *my* story here is, don’t let the slowness of the first half of The Samantha Project keep you from reading on. You’ll be surprised—and happy—to see the stakes get higher and the action take off, leading to a kick-butt Chapter 36. It’s a good thing we don’t have to wait for the next book because The Golden Couple is already out and the third book, A Chosen Destiny, should be released soon.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2013.