3 out of 5 hearts
I received a copy of The Newstead Project as a part of I am a Reader, Not a Writer blog tours.
Joel is a talented high school athlete that was approached by a scout from Newstead High School. He was offered a full scholarship to this private school to complete his high school career. He has been waiting his whole life to hear those words, but they don't sound like what he expected. Joel doesn't want to go but after watching his mom struggle to put bacon on the table, he decides to accept the offer and travels 20 hours to his new home in Vermont. Newstead is nothing like he expected and immediately he realizes there is more to it than a regular high school. The only distraction and freedom from it he finds is as a dishwasher at a local pizza shop; here he meets Rachel.
Rachel knows the true goal of Newstead. Plus, she knows Joel's true identity. He doesn't even know, but she does. She is terrified of him and the other Newstead students. She has moved from town to town since her parents passed, not staying in a single place for more than three months. She is relying on that to get away from Newstead, but to her utmost disappointment, she has to stay in Wanton. Joel and she bond together to uncover The Newstead Project.
An interesting factor of this book was it's connection to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (which is a military tactics guide by one of the best Chinese military generals of all time). In the beginning, it kind of give a glimpse to the mystery behind Newstead but as the story unfolds, you get a better understanding. I want to read The Art of War now. The fantastical element behind it was used in one of the more unique ways that is has in other fantasy books (I'd tell you what it is, but it'd be a spoiler). Regardless, I would still categorize this as more of a thriller/suspense book.
There were a few grammatical errors that were a bit distracting. She also switches the POV, so you have to get used to that. However, when she did, I didn't get a clear distinction between Joel and Rachel - the character voice for both of these was very similar, despite their different backgrounds and challenges. Bascially, Schulz's decision to tell the story from both angles did add much more had she written it from only Joel's perspective.
The second book of this series, The Bashan Agenda, comes out on November 1, 2013.
"What am I going to do? The question sounded familiar, too familiar." - Melanie Schulz, The Newstead Project
The Newstead Project by Melanie Schulz
Paperback, 321 pages
Published May 1st 2013 by Black and White Publishing Co.