There is the fallacy on the part of some readers to dismiss books that belong to the Young Adult (YA) genre as lacking the literary sophistication of works intended for mature audiences. Perhaps there is a hesitancy in investing time in YA books for fear that the characters and plot won’t connect with the reader due to an unfair belief that tale is too simplistic. How could teen characters possess the emotional maturity to carry an intense plot? If anything, I applaud YA authors: YA authors often place their young characters in incredible situations and leave them to their own resources to confront these battles.
The Fourth Descendant and Drake and The Fliers author Allison Maruska has cemented her status as a skilled storyteller of YA themed works in her impressive Project Renovatio(PR) trilogy.
Beginning with Project Renovatio and followed by its book siblings Project Liberatio and Project Ancora, Maruska introduced readers to a plot of genetically engineered children who, sadly, must give up normalcy and become unwitting pawns in a scheme for societal dominance. Project Renovatio focused on siblings Levin, Rana and Dayla and how their lives intersected with other PR children. The book highlighted themes of family, choice, loyalty and survival. The second book in the series (Project Liberatio) expanded on these themes as our protagonists became embroiled in a life or death struggle that saw tragic consequences.
Project Ancora offers the final installment and like its worthy predecessors, this book doesn’t disappoint. When last we left our protagonists, they had succeeded through some insurmountable odds and appeared poised to live normal lives, alas, with lasting scars. Computer prodigy Levin tries to get into a work routine even as the pain of his loss is still very fresh. However when he receives a cryptic message from Dr. Craig, who was a champion and protector of sorts for the PR children, Levin, his siblings and the other PR children are once again plunged into a live and death struggle for survival.
Younger sibling Rana is discovering romance with Dante, another PR teen. Yet their romance is tested. Also tested is Rana herself, who like her older brother Levin, emerges as a true leader and hero during their plight.
I especially liked how Maruska portrayed Rana as a strong force throughout the book. The YA adult audience will find Rana both inspirational and relatable: She possesses qualities that teens would happily emulate. She desires love and a future. What will appeal to YA audiences as well as their older counterparts is that Rana doesn’t wait for an unseen cavalry to charge forward and rescue the group from their captors. Rather, she constructs a daring escape plan on her own that saves the day.
Similarly, Levin is extremely clever when left to his own devices. Grief shadows him; however, Levin puts his own pain aside to focus on the well-being of the PR children.
Maruska reveals that she is a meticulous architect of a plot that marvelously swings from intense emotional moments to heart racing action. Further, mystery and suspense permeate the narrative as more than one antagonist is revealed. We are left to question motives as we move forward through the various gripping plots. Finally, we are reminded of several supporting characters from the earlier books whose presence add rich textures to Project Ancora.
Because Maruska has carefully written this epic story of family, hope and survival, for someone who hasn’t read the first two books and elects to dive into Project Ancora, the reader won’t feel lost. Personally, though,I think that it would be a travesty to abandon Project Renovatio and Project Liberatio in order to pursue Project Ancora first. Each book is exquisite and effectively establishes the foundation to an intriguing tale.
Project Ancora is an exceptional finale to an exceptional trilogy that warrants reader attention.