The Humanity Project

By Jean Thompson
Publisher:Blue Rider Press, (4/23/2013)

Average Rating:
Mildly Unleashable
2.33 out of 5 (3 Clubie's ratings)

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Year We Left Home, a dazzling new novel already being hailed as an “instantly addictive...tale of yearning, paradox, and hope.” (Booklist)

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.
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Nick's thoughts on "The Humanity Project"
updated on:6/5/2013

This book took me through a range of opinions. I started out a little confused and bored, and then became engrossed in the characters, and then a bit underwhelmed in the end. All in all, though, I think credit needs to be given to Jean Thompson for some really, really good character writing. Where this novel stumbles a little is when it tries a little too hard to tie random story elements together. In short, when the book is about the characters, it does very well. When it starts to get mired in "plot," it gets murky. The thing is that the connections she tries to draw don't really even need to be there. What connects these characters aren't random plot points or's the fact that they all have scars, whether they be emotional, physical or both. In that, the book makes a brilliant point about the very imperfect nature of humanity. If that would have been allowed to speak entirely for itself, I'd say this novel would have gone from being quite good to great.

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Ceci's thoughts on "The Humanity Project"
updated on:6/1/2013

A semi-sprawling, multi-character saga that reads well, but ultimately does not deliver. Uninspired plot points pulled straight from current events – school shootings, unemployment, home foreclosures – are somewhat differentiated from your morning news because you are dropped into the heads of some emotionally complex characters, and their complicated relationships with each other. Almost every character, though, is flavored with at least a dash of quirkiness, as if eccentricity is a requirement for those residing in the vicinity of San Francisco. Bottom line – it’s not hard to guess how and where these characters will end up, and to the extent there are any surprises, that’s mostly the result of contrived coincidences cooked into the plot.

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Book Junky's thoughts on "The Humanity Project"
updated on:5/8/2013

If you are looking for a redemptive story that will make you feel good about humanity… this is not it. This is more, "let's dive into a bunch of sad stories so you can feel as bad as the main characters do." On that note, the author does do a very good job of making you feel and understand the actions and circumstances of the characters and the writing is very good. But personally, I don't want to feel like crap the entire time I am reading a book. The book started out and I was like, "okay, you have to establish a starting point for the character, feel their sadness & understand what brought them to these low points…" but it just never switch over to any redemption of humanity or answered any of the compelling questions that the "Humanity Project" was suppose to tackle. Maybe I should not have expected that, but then why even have the whole "Humanity Project" sub-plot in the book at all? 

The characters face some very current and timeless issues. For that reason I think there could be some good book club discussions to go along with the book. But the characters are a little cliche in my opinion. Especially the men, who seem desperate to see a "little action" and make bad decisions because of this. Come on. Not all men are sex starved lazy idiots who can't seem to help themselves much. Actually that is probably why I really did not like this book. There is only one character that is actually trying to make a change for themselves - Conner. Even though he does it in some not so good ways sometimes. The rest are just all, "duh, okay life handed me these lemons, so I will pucker up now" people. Screw that! Make some lemonade people!!  If you like lemons, pick this book. If you aspire to lemonade and redemption of humanity… find another.

Mildly Unleashable

"The Humanity Project"
By Jean Thompson

Average Rating:
Mildly Unleashable
2.33 out of 5 (3 Clubie's ratings)

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