ARC Reviews

ARC REVIEW: Project Pandora by Aden Polydoros


31450642Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Received From: NetGalley

Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight— Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.

Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control?

In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down—before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass…


GENDER: presumed cisgender
SEXUALITY: presumed heterosexual


TROPES: teenage assassins
TAGS: science fiction, young adult, contemporary
WARNINGS: mind control, child abuse, suicidal ideation, death, violence, explicit violence, murder, mental illness (PTSD, anxiety, amnesia), ableism, transphobia / transmisia / cissexism, slutshaming, homophobia / homomisia, torture, stalking


Based on the premise, I was really interested in this book. Teenage assassins? Yes hi hello. Those very same teens over throwing the organization that has been controlling them since conception? SIGN ME UP. Unfortunately, the execution was severely lacking.

There were little things that bothered me–such as the author’s apparent obsession with whether teenage girls wore nail polish or not, and the fact that the code names for Tyler and Shannon, one of the romantic pairings, were Apollo and Artemis respectively, which added an uncomfortable, incestual layer when you know that Apollo and Artemis are twins in Greek mythology.

Then there was the fact that both pairings–Tyler/Apollo + Shannon/Artemis, and Hades + Elizabeth/Persephone–were completely saturated in violence. Granted, one expects a certain level of violence when the overall concept is teenage assassins, but the violence I’m talking about here is dark, possessive, and has the potential to be abusive. This dynamic is less evident in the Tyler/Shannon pairing, but there are several times where Tyler expresses violent anger on Shannon’s behalf where she says she feels “strangely flattered,” which…okay but no thank you. The violent dynamic is much more present and alarming in the Hades/Elizabeth dynamic, however. Due to his experiences, Hades is significantly more violent than the other children, and has apparently been this way since he was a small child. At no point does Elizabeth ever stop to correct him or tell him that his behavior is unacceptable. I could understand that if she feared for her life around him, but she doesn’t; she continually excuses his behavior. Before the 50% mark even rolls around, Hades has beaten and nearly killed a random stranger in a restaurant for making lewd comments to her, has beaten and hospitalized three of her classmates for calling her a slut–one of which has to be put in a medically induced coma–, and it is heavily implied that he murdered a man when they were around 15 years old because he was probably going to ask Elizabeth for sexual favors in return for getting her things. This is not sexy! This is not remotely okay! She experiences a brief moment of fear, but then, in the next moment, is defending Hades and his actions. She wants to “fix him,” as she states multiple times in the novel, but makes no moves towards criticizing his actions. And, as if all that isn’t bad enough, Elizabeth ends up the only one of the main four who (explicitly) dies on page, and it happens when she sacrifices herself to keep Hades from being shot again.

Aside from this, nothing as far as the plot indicated by the blurb really starts happening until about 60% into the novel. Up until that point, while there are brief spurts of action, the overall plot moves very slowly, and it was only through sheer force of will (and my horrified curiosity to see what else would happen) that I was able to continue the book. I liked the ending, as far as it meant the indicated plot was actually progressing, but I don’t see myself continuing with this series.





Aden Polydoros grew up in Long Grove, Illinois, the youngest of three children. Aden’s family moved to Arizona when he was in second grade. As a kid, he spent much of his time exploring the desert near his home. When he wasn’t searching for snakes and lizards, he was raiding the bookshelves of the local library.

His debut novel, PROJECT PANDORA, will be available on August 1, 2017 from Entangled Teen. He is represented by Mallory Brown of Triada US.

Twitter: @AdenPolydoros
Facebook: aden.polydoros


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s