Projection [NOOK Book]


Three girls battle a dangerous secret society that will do anything to protect an ancient Greek power in this murder mystery for fans of Dan Brown.

In ancient Rome, it was whispered that the great philosopher Plotinus could project his soul into another human being in a ritual that hinged on a kiss.

In present-day Delphi, California, the sole remaining guardians of the ...
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Three girls battle a dangerous secret society that will do anything to protect an ancient Greek power in this murder mystery for fans of Dan Brown.

In ancient Rome, it was whispered that the great philosopher Plotinus could project his soul into another human being in a ritual that hinged on a kiss.

In present-day Delphi, California, the sole remaining guardians of the Plotinus Ability hide in plain sight as members of the exclusive Oculus Society—until their leader, Octavia Harris, is killed in her own home. With no leads on the case, Octavia's daughter, Gretchen, vows to find her mother's murderer at any cost.

One piece of the puzzle falls into place when Gretchen's best friend, Jessica Shaw, discovers the Plotinus Ability. Skeptical but curious, the two can't resist trying the ritual, but they're not alone. Ariel Miller, an outsider with a well-known hatred of all things Oculus Society, films the friends exchanging their first kiss, and it isn't long before the video goes viral. As Ariel's guilt and the girls' suspicions of her mount, the three must forget the past and trust one another if they are to find the murderer still in their midst.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Green (The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball) launches a series evocative of Freaky Friday and inspired by classic philosophy. California teen Gretchen Harris is part of the Oculus Society, a sisterhood dedicated to secretly preserving the Plotinus Ability, which allows participants to trade bodies/souls. When Gretchen’s mother, the head of the Society, is murdered, Gretchen vows to find the killer. She teams up with her best friend Jessica and, later, social rival Ariel, swapping identities to ferret out the truth, certain that the culprit is someone close to home. However, inhabiting each others’ lives is harder than expected. While Green’s premise is solid and the underlying mystery intriguing, the story struggles with pacing problems, including a significant two-year time jump. The theme of girl empowerment runs up against an oddly unfulfilled lesbian subtext—the fact that the girls must kiss in order to exchange bodies is an oft-mentioned subject and plot point, yet the book shies away from a deeper exploration of sexual identity. Nevertheless, it’s a strong start for a series with potential. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Projection

The Da Vinci Code meets Freaky Friday.... Flashbacks to [ancient Rome] provide an engaging back story and helpful clues to solving the murder mystery. The focus on friendship will appeal to chick-lit fans, while those tired of vampires, fallen angels and the like will appreciate the fresh take on the paranormal.”
—Kirkus Reviews

"An intriguing blend of mystery and mythology, Projection kept us guessing until we devoured the final pages."
—Lisa and Laura RoeckerThis Is W.A.R. and The Liar Society

"Thought-provoking... An enjoyable read."

“[A] suspenseful mystery.... [with a] mix of friendship drama and paranormal mystery [that] should win over readers.” 

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In ancient Rome, wealthy woman Gemina and philosopher Plotinus breathe their souls into each other's bodies, observed for safety reasons by a mutual friend. The projection works perfectly, though their bodies suffer unintended consequences. Flash forward to present-day Delphi, California, where Gretchen and Jessica undertake the same exchange, and Ariel snaps a picture of the same-sex kiss and posts it as a snarky reveal. Though the premise has potential, this book fails to capitalize on many of the story lines. The murder of Gretchen's mother in order to get an anklet seems superfluous as it turns out to be unnecessary to the Plotinus Ability (and why not just steal it?). The exchanges can be hard to follow as the author uses the name and thoughts of one person while describing actions using the name of the other. The girls make little interesting use of their exchanges. They sleep, feign illness, or hide alone in a bedroom, with occasional conversations with a parent or boyfriend. A parent insists the police will not reopen the case, and a page later the same parent insists the police will not rest until they find the killer. Parents seem unaware of the "lesbian kiss" video, which had such repercussions that two girls left town. The 2000-year-old Oculus Society is never shown making use of the Plotinus Ability and easily agrees to cease using it. The most interesting parts include occasional flashbacks to Gemina and Plotinus and the surprise ending, but overall the book offers little to engage most readers.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Kirkus Reviews
The Da Vinci Code meets Freaky Friday in this chick-lit mystery. It posits that during the Roman Empire, Plotinus, a real philosopher who's fictionalized in this thriller, discovered a ritualistic way to trade souls with other humans. Two thousand years later, the Oculus Society, a secret society based on Plotinus' practices and made up of wealthy socialites, leads the town of Delphi, Calif. When Gretchen's mother, the president of the Oculus Society, turns up dead, the teen sets out to find her mother's killer. After a slow start, the pacing quickens and remains heightened as Gretchen and her best friend, Jessica (also with ties to the Oculus Society), trade souls to gather evidence in the stalled murder investigation. They create more tension when they invite Ariel, a one-time foe who's still not completely eliminated from the suspect list, to join in their hunt and soul switching. The novel's third-person narration allows each girl to see the crime and clues from a different perspective and seemingly stereotyped characters to take shape. Flashbacks to Plotinus' soul switching, its disastrous results and how his ability came to be handed down to women only provide an engaging back story and helpful clues to solving the murder mystery. The focus on friendship will appeal to chick-lit fans, while those tired of vampires, fallen angels and the like will appreciate the fresh take on the paranormal. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616952013
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/3/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,272,008
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Lexile: HL720L (what's this?)
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Risa Green is the author of the YA series The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball, as well as the critically acclaimed adult novels, Notes from the Underbelly and Tales from the Crib, which were the basis of an ABC television series. Prior to becoming a writer, Risa worked as a high school college counselor, and also spent two years doing hard time as a corporate attorney. Born in the Philadelphia area, Risa now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1.
249 A.D.
          Amphiclea watched the awkward young slave girl.  Her posture was perfect as she maneuvered through the garden, her expression blank, her arms loaded with a ceramic plate full of figs, olives, cheese, and flatbread.  She could be beautiful if she weren’t unclean, Amphiclea thought.  She looks like me.  The girl placed the plate gently on the table in front of Gemina. In an instant almost too quick to catch, the slave’s eyes flickered to the warm loaves, and Gemina caught the hungry glance. Gemina never missed anything.  She ripped off a piece of the bread, wrapping a hunk of cheese and some olives inside of it. 
          “Here,” Gemina said.  She held it towards the slave.
          A test. Everything was a test with Gemina.
          The girl masked her fear with a polite, “No.”  She’d only recently been acquired by Gemina’s husband, the influential Senator Castricius. Amphilea knew that the girl’s last owner would have beaten her just for looking at the bread. 
          Gemina nodded at the girl’s hesitation.  “Take it,” she insisted, picking up the girl’s hand and placing the food into it. “I won’t tolerate hungry slaves in this household.”
          Without a word, the girl curtsied, clutching the bread against her chest like it was a precious child. She ran back towards the house.
          Amphiclea shuddered. “You shouldn’t touch the slaves.  They’re…”
          “Unclean?” Gemina finished impatiently, mocking her. “I know. Have you not been listening to Plotinus? To me?  We are all the same.  All of us—slaves, Senators, philosophers, the entire universe—we are all one.  We all come from the One.”  Gemina flung open her slender arms to illustrate her point.  Her expression quickly turned to disgust as the gold bracelets adorning her wrists clanged against each other. “Plotinus says that nothing material matters.  Not this house, not this food, not this jewelry.  Even our bodies are irrelevant.  They are merely prisons for our souls.”
          Amphiclea glanced around the garden to make sure no one had approached.  She lowered her voice.  “Has he been successful?”
          Gemina smiled conspiratorially, her high cheekbones revealing themselves like smooth rocks beneath her skin. “Twice now, he has done it.  He has projected his soul through the Oculus.  He has passed through the highest part of the Pantheon, leaving his body behind while his soul floated among the stars!”  She gripped Amphiclea’s arm, her bracelets jangling.  “And soon he will teach me to do the same!”
          Amphiclea shook Gemina’s hands free. “Stop it.  Don’t talk this way. You’re not permitted to eat in the same room as your husband, let alone study with a philosopher—”
“Enough,” Gemina interrupted.  “It doesn’t matter.  Plotinus has shown me the truth.  All of creation emanates from the One.  Men, women, slaves, animals, even these figs!”  Gemina leaned closer and whispered.  “You are right to be cautious. Castricius is no student of philosophy.  He only tolerates Plotinus because he believes it raises his stature in the Senate to be viewed as a patron of a Philosopher.  The beneficent Castricius,” she said, with mock grandiosity, “patron of a great philosophical mind.”  She sat back, straightened the food on her plate.   “Of course, he’d never let it be known what he really thinks of Plotinus.”
          Amphiclea leaned closer as she took the bait. “Why? What does he think of him?”
          “He thinks he’s absolutely mad, Amphiclea!” 
          “Yes, of course he does,” she said, apologetically.  She should have anticipated that answer, given how often she’d listened to Gemina complain about Castricius in the two years since their marriage.  The Senator was not an open-minded man, and though he was hailed for being a shrewd and ruthless politician, such qualities were less commendable when it came it being a husband.  To be fair, he had seemed fond of Gemina during their courtship and in the early months of their marriage.  But when she’d borne him a daughter – little Gaia – he’d been furious.  More than a year later, he still hadn’t forgiven her for the transgression.
          Gemina straightened herself in her chair.  They were both only seventeen, but today, Amphiclea felt much younger than her friend. 
          “However,” Gemina continued, “what my dear husband doesn’t know about Plotinus, is that on Sunday last, he witnessed Castricius leaving the bedroom of the same woman who accused my poor father of forging Senate documents.”
          “Lucretia Iusta?” Amphiclea exclaimed with a start. “She nearly had your family banished from Rome!”  She held a hand up to her mouth.  “Is this…?”  She couldn’t finish the thought, because it could only lead to one place—a place where Gemina would be taken from her forever to pay for the sins of her father.
          The accusations against Gemina’s father had been a great scandal just last winter; all of Rome had been talking about the charges – which ultimately had been found baseless – but Gemina’s family name had nearly been ruined.  And though Amphiclea knew that some still believed the claim to be valid, most thought only that Lucretia Iusta was a wicked, vengeful woman.  It was hardly a secret that Lucretia had wanted Castricius for herself, and that she’d been furious when Gemina’s father had arranged for Gemina to be his bride instead.
          “Gemina!” Amphiclea exclaimed.  “How could he?”
          Gemina grimaced.  “Oh, Amphiclea, don’t be so naïve.  What man could resist a woman who is so desperate to have him?”  She waved away Castricius’ infidelity as if it were a bug.  “I care not of what he does in her bedroom.  He only married me because of my father’s fortune.”  She lowered her voice, her dark eyes flashing with anger.  “But he appears to be taking money – money meant for me, and for Gaia, from the dowry given to him by my father – and giving it to that lying wench of a woman.”
          Amphiclea gasped.  “You truly believe that he’s stealing from you?” 
          “I know it.”
          “But can you prove it?”
          “Not yet.  The proof I need is in the Curia, where the Senate meets and where Castricius keeps his ledgers.  But it would be too dangerous for a woman to be seen sneaking around there.  Of course, if I were a man, I could find what I needed without arousing suspicion.”
          Amphiclea blinked, fighting back the fear and sadness.  “And if I were a cat, I could lie around all day and do nothing but drink milk!” 
          To her surprise, Gemina laughed.  “Yes,” she conceded.  “But you can’t become a cat, and I can become a man.” 
          Amphiclea searched her friend’s eyes for the hint of a hoax, an elaborate joke, not beyond Gemina. All she saw was icy resolve. “And how do you propose to do that, exactly?” she asked in a teasing tone, ignoring the shudder down her spine.
          Gemina stared hard back at Amphiclea.  “I told you that Plotinus is going to teach me how to project my soul, but not through the Oculus.  He’s going to teach me to project my soul into his body.  My mind, my consciousness, will inhabit him, like a crab in a shell, and his will inhabit me.  We’re going to trade our souls, Amphiclea.  But, we can’t do it without your help.”
          Amphiclea went pale.  “Gemina, you are like a sister to me.  I would help you with anything.  But this…this sounds impossible.”
          “It’s not impossible,” Gemina insisted.  “It can be done if you believe in the idea of the One.”
          Amphiclea held herself steady. Gemina’s face had tensed.  A blue vein appeared by her temple. Gemina believes what she is saying. This is no hoax.
            “How could I help?”
          “We need a witness.  A mártyras.  Plotinus says that without one, we can’t insure that we’ll be able to return to our own bodies.  Will you do it, Amphiclea?”
          Amphiclea blinked. Her thoughts raced for reasons, excuses.  Had Gemina ever refused her?  She’d consoled Amphiclea when her mother had died, she’d helped  prepare her for her wedding night, she’d taught her how to run a household.  This was the first time Gemina had ever asked her for anything in return.  Amphiclea couldn’t possibly say no, even if what Gemina was proposing was positively mad.  She lowered her eyes.
          “Of course.  Anything for you, Gemina.”
          Gemina smiled, though it was more to herself than to Amphiclea.  The strained look vanished from her face.  The blue vein receded.
          “I knew you wouldn’t disappoint me.”  She  placed her hand on top of Amphiclea’s.  With her other hand she reached beneath the table, and emerged with a small, leather pouch.  She opened it, revealing a delicate gold strand, adorned with a disc of nearly translucent amber. 
          Amphiclea gasped.  “Gemina, it’s so beautiful.”
          “It’s a gift to you,” Gemina said.  “For your loyalty, trust and friendship.”  She reached out for Amphiclea’s tiny wrist, frowning as she wrapped the chain around it.  “Oh, it’s much too big.  Amphiclea, you must eat more!” 
          In spite of herself, Amphiclea laughed.  “I shall wear it on my ankle instead.”  She lifted up the hem of her purple stola and fastened the chain around her right ankle.  It fit perfectly.  She held out her bare leg, and for a blissful fleeting moment, the two girls admired her new accessory.
          Gemina’s face darkened. “I know you doubt me, Amphiclea, but you will see that what I say is the truth.  I will become Plotinus, and as him I will find the proof against my husband that I require.”  She paused for a moment, lost in thought, and then squeezed Amphiclea’s fingers.  “And when I do, Castritius will get the justice he deserves.” 
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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  • Posted September 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This book is a great new addition to the YA genre. Like many oth

    This book is a great new addition to the YA genre. Like many other YA books its appeal expands to older readers as well (I definitely qualify as an older adult). I started reading the book on red-eye airplane trip from the west coast to the east coast. Although my plan was to sleep most of the way, I had a hard time putting the book down. It is a combination of murder mystery, contemporary sci-fi, and teen chick lit.

    Gretchen’s mother is murdered the night of her eighth grade graduation. Her mother had been a leading member of the Oculus Society, an exclusive social group that turns out to be much more that it appears on the surface. Gretchen is determined to find her mother’s killer and accuses Ariel, an unpopular schoolmate. Gretchen’s best friend, Jessica, is invited to join the Oculus Society and as a result she learns their secret, they are heirs to the Plotinus Ability. Plotinus was an ancient Greek Philosopher who discovered a ritual, involving a kiss, for projecting his soul into another human. Jessica shares the secret with Gretchen and the two decide to see if it works. They hope that by exchanging bodies they will discover information about who killed Gretchen’s mother. The girls are caught “kissing” each other by Ariel who posts it on YouTube where is goes viral. Eventually the three girls realize that they are going to have to work together to discover who killed Gretchen’s mother.

    I highly recommend this book. I know my two young adult daughters will enjoy reading it when they get a chance. The only parts on the book I had issues with were the scenes of underage drinking. The teens are afraid of getting caught but the drinking is accepted as a norm at their parties.

    Disclosure: I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it.

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  • Posted September 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    *Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publicist in exch

    *Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.

    Green’s debut novel Projection is a clever and unique addition to the Young Adult genre.Projection is a paranormal/sci-fi sleuth novel (on the light-side) set in three time periods that will appeal to a lot of readers.

    The book opens to Rome 249 A.D., introducing readers to Gemina, her best friend Amphiclea, and Gemina’s teacher/a philosopher Plotinus. Gemina believes her husband is cheating on her. Plotinus says the only way she will know for sure is if they ‘project’ with one another. Projection (The Plotinus Ability) is where two people switch souls with one another (sort of like breathing into the other person’s mouth, or think Lindsey Lohan’s Freaky Friday movie LOL.) In order for a safe projection, Gemina and Plotinus needs someone to witness their soul exchange and that is where Amphiclea comes into play, she is chosen as a ‘witness’ and if anything bad happens she will tell others the truth. The novel then fast-forward to the present day to Gretchen and her friend Jessica, both 13-years-old who just graduated from the eighth grade. Gretchen’s mom celebrates this monumental moment by throwing a lavish eighth grade graduation party for Gretchen and the entire eighth grade class…but there is also another reason to celebrate Gretchen’s mom says. Gretchen doesn’t ever find out what her mom wanted to say because she is murder that night. Jessica then reveals to Gretchen that her mom was going to pass on her Oculus Society (a disguised philanthropy club that really is protecting the Plotinus Ability) leadership role to her. The leader/group swore to protect the ability to project for over 2,000 years, a tradition that’s passed from mother to daughter. In order to find the killer, they project with one another and while they succeeded in projection they couldn’t find the murderer. The book then fast forward again two-years, and the girls are now 15-years-old and they’re still determine to find out who murdered Gretchen’s mom.

    Gemina and Plotinus's back-story is told in a couple of chapters between Gretchen, Jessica and Ariel’s chapters, sprinkled through the short book (288 pages) to better explain the Plotinus Ability. At first I didn’t see how Gemina/Plotinus story was really relevant to the present day girls but everything ties together nicely towards the end. I wasn’t a fan of the back-story at the beginning, but as I got further into the book I found myself looking forward to reading more about Gemina and Plotinus. I was sad they didn’t get a happy ending like the girls, but I’m glad the Gemina/Plotinus chapters were added because it added something more to the story. The projection concept is quite refreshing, having never read a YA like it. It was fascinating to see how all the characters used the Plotinus Ability, and how it eventually aided them in finding out who killed Gretchen’s mom. When the girls switched places with one another, they learn a lot not only who the killer was. They learned how it is to live in another person’s shoe (even if it’s for a day) and that though you think you know someone, you don’t really know what happens when you’re not around or behind closed doors. They also learned how others perceived them/how they see themselves, which was fun to see.

    Green did a great job in creating an engaging plot that had me guessing till the very end. There were so many twist-turns that I didn’t see coming, especially who the killer was! Overall, Projection was very well-written and the cast of characters were realistic even with the hint of paranormal/sci-fi. I enjoyed every aspect of this book, and think it will appeal to a lot of readers, not just young-adults. I highly recommend this book to everyone looking for a refreshing, page-turner.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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