Friday, September 24, 2010

The Gryphon Project by Carrie Mac

I just finished The Griphon Project by Carrie Mac, a book I've been looking forward to reading long before it won the BC Book Prize for Young Adult Literature this year.  I love Mac's writing, it's usually tight, yet language rich with unusual thematic juxtapositions and metaphors that make you stop and say "Wow!  I wish I'd written that."

Although I enjoyed it, I found The Gryphon Project to be a little less satisfying than other books I've read by Mac.

The sci-fi story with a recognizable near future setting evolves around Phoenix, her brother and their friends.  When we first meet her, Phoenix has the ideal family, the ideal older brother, and the ideal life, other than the fact that she has only one life left after having used two up prior to the age of six.   Most people in her social class are allotted three lives, and most still have all three. Gryphon, Phoenix's older brother, is an all star athlete and poster boy for Chrysalis, the governing body who controls after death recons.  This ensures that their family leads an even more privileged existence. But things start to go awry when Gryphon and some of his friends engage in progressively more and more risky stunts.  By contrast, the lack of recons available to her, turn Phoenix into a worrier.  Secrets that she'd rather not know are dropped into her lap just before Gryphon has a horrible accident.  Unbelievably, Chrysalis deems Gryphon's death a suicide and everyone knows there are no recons for suicides. There's only one way to prove Gryphon's death was an accident, but his friends aren't talking and have shut Phoenix out.  Still, Phoenix is determined to break their code of silence and save her brother even if it means risking her last life by going into dangerous territory.

Although the book has some great writing and interesting plot twists, in the end it was a little disappointing.  I found the main character's self-absorption got in the way of a story. This may be a case of Mac trying to take on too much in one story. While the The Gryphon Project never really lived up to it's science-fiction thriller billing, it did raise some very compelling social issues; something Mac has always shown herself to be a master at. The Gryphon Project isn't all I'd hoped for, but it is worth a read.

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