Project Pandora

Project Pandora

by Aden Polydoros

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Overview

Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight—Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.

Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control?

In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down—before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass...

The Assassin Fall series is best enjoyed in order.

Reading Order:

Hades Rising (prequel novella)

Book #1 Project Pandora

Book #2 Project Prometheus

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633756854
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 08/01/2017
Series: Assassin Fall Series , #1
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 901,836
Product dimensions: 5.64(w) x 7.77(h) x 0.98(d)
Age Range: 14 - 12 Years

About the Author

Aden Polydoros grew up in Long Grove, Illinois, and now lives in Arizona. He is a writer of young adult fiction. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys reading and going on hikes in the mountains. Aden Polydoros is a 2015 Gold Medalist in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and has published two short stories in Best Arizona Teen Writing of 2015.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

CASE NOTES 1: APOLLO

Tyler Bennett stood in front of the white marble vanity, staring at the mirror — or rather, what was left of it.

A few large shards bristled like teeth from the frame. The rest of the broken glass was scattered across the counter among lipstick tubes, broken eye shadow palettes, and other cosmetics. A woman's arsenal.

The bathroom lamp gilded the objects with a soft golden light, while also seeming to bring them into sharp focus. A handgun lay in the center of the mess, drawing his gaze and trapping it.

Before he realized what he was doing, he picked up the pistol.

He couldn't recall having handled a gun before, but somehow he knew how to check the magazine. At full capacity, it held ten rounds. Seven were left. More than enough to finish the job.

What job? Like a stone dropped into a very deep well, the thought lasted only long enough to cause a ripple of unease. Then it was gone.

He clicked the magazine back into place. A distant horror seeped through him, a whispering knowledge that what he was about to do — and what he had done — wasn't just wrong. It was unforgivable. It was damning.

It was a feeling that had no place in his programming.

Kill.

Looking down, he realized he was wearing clothes that weren't his. Black nylon gloves and a wrinkled outfit a size too big. The gloves were torn in places and beaded with blood. His jeans and shirt had also been splattered. Some of the blood was his own, oozing from tiny scratches on his knuckles. Most of it was not.

A black backpack was propped up against the toilet, the front pocket unzipped. Jewelry, camera gear, and crumpled cash bristled from the pouch. He recognized neither the backpack nor its contents, but he zipped it up and slung it over his shoulder.

He stepped into the master bedroom. Clothes had been ripped from drawers and thrown to the floor in wrinkled piles. An oil painting lay on the carpet, canvas split and frame broken. Holes were torn in the mattress and pillows, and upholstery fluff spewed from the seat of the armchair.

Rosy sunlight slanted through the plantation shutters and spilled across the floor. Feeling violently disoriented, victim to a nightmare, he swiveled around.

He noticed the alarm clock on the dresser: 9:45 a.m. He should have been at school.

He had been at school.

Kill.

Tyler went into the hall. Even from the doorway, he could smell a nauseating stew of blood and gunpowder. His resolution wavered.

A woman lay on the floor, facedown. Her hair was red and her shirt, too, the fabric so saturated with blood that it appeared black. Without looking at her directly, he knew she had been shot twice in the back as she'd tried to flee. The third bullet had shattered her skull at point-blank range.

No, he thought, closing his eyes. No, I didn't do this. It wasn't me.

Sudden nausea overwhelmed him. His right hand jerked up, but, remembering the gun, he cupped his left hand over his mouth.

This was just a dream. Just a nightmare. Soon he would wake up, but first, he had to complete the job. Once he did, he would open his eyes and this would end.

He swallowed back the acidic bile.

"Pandora's box is opening," he whispered to himself, and that calmed him somewhat. He stepped over the body and continued down the corridor.

Framed news articles lined the walls. Vaguely, he wondered if his target might be a reporter or newsman. Then he pushed the questions from his head and thought about nothing at all.

In the kitchen, the air was sharp with the stench of burnt bread. Inky plumes poured from the toaster slots. Before the machine could set off the smoke alarm, he pulled the plug.

Tyler sat down at the wooden table and set the backpack next to him. He looked at the spread of food laid out on white china. Lox, onion and tomato slices, capers, a small dish of whipped cream cheese. Brunch for two, one bagel already split and assembled, two glasses of orange juice waiting to be sipped.

She had sat here and prepared her meal, and then she stood to answer the doorbell. Or perhaps she had already been standing. He didn't know. But he knew that when she had answered the door, he — no, not him. It wasn't him! He hadn't lifted the gun. Not him. He hadn't pointed it at her. He hadn't pulled the trigger.

His gaze fell to the gun. Like in a vision, he saw himself cock the hammer and put the pistol between his lips. He imagined the way the tip of the silencer would feel propped against his teeth and how the oily metal might taste. He thought about the sound it would make when he squeezed the trigger — then realized he wouldn't live long enough to hear the muted gunshot.

There were seven bullets left, but he would only need one. Just one bullet, one twitch of the trigger, and then it would be all over. No more. No more. No more.

Stinging tears blurred his vision as he set the gun on the place mat. He raised his palms to his face and watched them shudder. Even when he curled his fingers into fists, his hands continued to tremble, although more subtly.

"Pandora's box is opening," he repeated, finding comfort in those four words.

From somewhere at the front of the house, Tyler heard a door creak open. He thought about trapdoors dropping open beneath condemned men, the jerk of the noose. This would be an execution, too.

"Honey, I'm back," a man called out.

Please, don't do this.

Kill.

Please, please ...

Kill them.

Tyler picked up the gun and cocked its hammer. He swiveled in his chair so that he faced the hall he knew the man would enter through. With his other hand, he wiped his eyes. His vision kept fogging up. A sob pressed against the roof of his mouth, but he swallowed it back. He must stay silent.

"Honey? Mary?" The man's voice was closer now, accompanied by hollow footsteps and the groan of floorboards, as though ascending the stairs of a hangman's scaffold. "Is that smoke I smell? Oh, please tell me you didn't forget about the toaster again ..." Go away, he thought. Please just go away.

The man who entered the kitchen was dressed in a tight fitness T-shirt, tennis shorts, and running shoes. A knit headband held back his graying hair. When he saw Tyler, his teasing smile vanished first into a confused gape and then the dazed-eyed shock of a deer caught in headlights.

"Where's Mary?" the man asked. "Who are you? What's going on? What — where is she?" His gaze swept from Tyler's face to his bloodied button-up to the gun that rested in his lap. "Oh my God."

"I'm sorry," Tyler said, lifting the pistol.

The man raised both hands, fingers spread in a placating gesture. His voice wavered as he spoke. "Kid, whatever you've just done, let's talk this over. There's no need to resort to violence. Just put down the gun, okay? Okay? Just put the gun down and —" "I'm so sorry," Tyler said, pulling the trigger.

There was a small popping sound like a wine bottle being uncorked. It seemed almost deafening, at least compared to the dull thud the man made as he hit the floor.

Tyler stood. He retrieved the shell casing from the floor and slipped it into his pocket, then walked over to the body. Stood there. Regarded it.

It was a clean headshot, but there could be no mistakes.

He pressed a finger to the man's throat to make sure he was dead. He couldn't find a pulse. Through his gloves, he felt the damp warmth of the man's skin. The warmth would fade, sweat would dry, blood would settle and coagulate. Rigor mortis would stiffen the limbs like hardening clay. All while the man's judgmental eyes remained open, one a gory hole, the other cursing him blindly from beyond the abyss. Lips parted as though to ask why. A question Tyler didn't have the answer for.

He wished he did. He wished he knew why. Why couldn't he stop crying, even though his hands had stopped shaking and the darkness was flowing in again and — Where was he? What was he doing? Oh, yes, the job. He must finish the job.

It was too late to stop now. Pandora's box had already opened, and the beast that came out could not be forced back in.

With the man's death confirmed, Tyler stowed the gun and shell casings in the backpack. He stripped out of his shirt and baggy jeans and stuffed the bloody clothes into the pack's outer pocket. From the main compartment, he retrieved his school clothes and changed into them.

He left through the front door. As he walked down the flagstone path, he peeled off his gloves and shoved them into his pocket. Without the cloth to obstruct his view, he saw that although the cuts had bled profusely, they were shallow. It was doubtful they would require stitches.

It was late morning, and there was little traffic in the upscale Maryland neighborhood that his victims called home. He had parked his car one block away. He encountered no one on his walk back and made it to the vehicle without incident.

Once he sat down inside the car, he pressed the callback button on his cell phone. It rang no more than two times before Zeus picked up.

"Olympus is rising," Zeus said.

"Pandora's box is opening," Tyler responded automatically.

Zeus was straight to the point. "Are you done, Apollo?"

"Yes."

"They're both taken care of? You made sure of it?"

"I checked," Tyler said. "They're both dead."

"And you made it look like a robbery? You took the jewelry and money?"

"Both. The cameras and computer stuff, too."

"Good boy," Zeus said. "Bring the bag back to the live drop. Hades will meet you there to retrieve it."

After Zeus disconnected, Tyler's motions became mechanical, and he ceased thinking for a while.

The shrill cry of a train whistle drew him back into reality, and he found himself in the parking lot of a Walmart, watching train cars shriek by on the railroad tracks across the street.

As the train passed, the rev of an engine replaced its piercing whistle, and a sleek black motorcycle pulled up alongside his car.

The rider climbed off his bike and sauntered over. His helmet covered his entire head. When Tyler stared into the mirrored visor, all he saw was his own face reflected back at him. The visor's curvature distorted Tyler's features in a way that troubled him, and he had the distinct impression that there was something wrong with his eyes.

The motorcyclist took off his helmet, revealing a pale, handsome face surrounded by a tangle of dark hair. The teenage boy offered him a warm smile and tapped on the window with a gloved hand.

Tyler rolled down the window.

"Hello, Apollo," the boy said pleasantly, like they were old friends.

He couldn't recall having met the boy before in his life but knew that he must have. He nodded in acknowledgment and said, "Hades."

"Where is it?"

"In the back."

Hades opened the back door of Tyler's car and sat down inside, directly behind the driver's seat.

Tyler kept his eyes on the windshield, listening to Hades unzip the bag and rifle through its contents. When he heard a metallic click like the cock of a hammer, his body tensed.

"Four bullets for two targets." Hades laughed. "Sloppy work, Apollo."

The tension eased out of Tyler's shoulders as he realized the other boy had removed the pistol's magazine.

"Are you going back to school after this?" Hades asked.

"Yes," Tyler said, watching him in the rearview mirror.

"I don't see the point in it," he said, returning the pistol and detached magazine to the bag. "We have no future, you know."

Tyler didn't respond.

Hades dug through the pouch and took out a wad of cash. He leafed through the money, dropped half of it back into the bag, and put the rest into one of his jacket pockets.

"Did you enjoy it?" he asked, zipping up the backpack. "Taking care of the enemy?"

"It was necessary."

A ghost of a smile touched his lips. "Did they suffer?"

"I don't know," Tyler mumbled.

"Don't look so troubled," he said, meeting Tyler's gaze in the mirror. His eyes were as blue as gas flames and seemed to smolder with the same devouring heat. "None of it's real anyway. Everything's a lie."

Hades opened the door, then paused. In the rearview mirror, Tyler saw him lean down and remove something from the backseat. Paper crinkled, and his smile faded into a strange expression Tyler had no name for.

"Elizabeth Hawthorne," Hades said, then chuckled to himself. "Is this today's paper?"

"I think so," Tyler said. He had a vague recollection of picking up the newspaper at the end of the driveway when he had left for school that morning, but it felt like a distant dream. Something that had happened in another life.

"I'm taking this." Hades stuffed the newspaper into the backpack. He got out of the car and put on his helmet. "Good-bye, Apollo."

Hades shut the car door and returned to his motorcycle. He glanced back at Tyler once, then he was gone.

Tyler sat there long after Hades had left, staring at the barren lot on the other side of the railroad tracks.

As the minutes passed, the memory of what he had done dissipated from his mind like so much smoke. In time, there was nothing left.

CHAPTER 2

CASE NOTES 2: PERSEPHONE

Beautiful. Elegant. Composed. Intelligent. Soft-spoken.

Those were just some of the many virtues expected of a state senator's daughter, and Elizabeth Hawthorne had them down pat. She knew when to open her mouth. She knew when to keep it closed. If asked about her father's political agenda, she would either number off a list of practical points or smile and act like a meek, trusting thing.

She despised it completely.

Unfortunately, one part of saving face was entertaining old perverts like the one standing before her, ogling her chest.

Thin and stooped over, bald save for the thick tufts of white hair sprouting from his ears and nose, the letch examined her carefully, as if she were one of his prize racehorses. "You're really growing up, aren't you? Why, the last time I saw you, you were just a tiny, little thing." He raised his hand to his waist level, uncomfortably close to his crotch. "You were only this big."

"Thank you." She was glad that she had no memory of the encounter. She had no doubt it would have scarred her for life. Post-traumatic amnesia was good for one thing at least.

Taking her stiff smile as an invitation to continue, the man began to ramble on about the sorry state of America. Apparently everyone was to blame but himself.

You can at least look at my face while you talk, she thought, resisting the impulse to cross her arms over her chest. Although her silver gown was one of the more modest outfits at the fundraising banquet, she felt bare under the old geezer's eyes.

"And don't get me started on those liberals in Hollywood!" he wheezed. She couldn't remember his name, but she knew he was a CEO of some company or another. He brought it up almost as often as he mentioned his yacht, as if he thought that would impress her.

Oh, please, just kill me now, she thought, smiling and nodding, polite as always.

As the old man ranted, he leaned in closer to her. His breath reeked of gingivitis and brandy, and his gaze never went above her bra line.

He paused halfway through the conversation to compliment her, as if her appearance had anything to do with the liberal agenda. "Has anyone ever told you that you have beautiful hair, dear? Most people don't have hair that light, at least not naturally."

She resisted the urge to groan aloud. If she wasn't being complimented on her flaxen hair, it was her blue eyes, or her skin, or her smile, when she knew the speaker was only interested in what lay beneath her silk gown.

"What I can't stand is people who dye their hair," the old man said, lifting his caterpillar eyebrows at her. "It's such a disappointment when the drapes don't match the carpet, if you catch my drift."

With some difficulty, she managed not to projectile vomit in his face, therefore saving the other guests the trouble of calling an exorcist. Once she thought it polite to do so, she took a step back, only to bump into something hard and unmoving. A hand closed around her shoulder, steadying her.

"Careful," said a low, rolling voice, rich with amusement.

"Pardon me." She turned to face the man who the hand belonged to — and froze at the sight of him.

The stranger was not a man at all but a teen who looked no older than her seventeen years. The boy's face could have belonged to any one of the angels adorning the frescoed ceiling above, if not for his sharp cheekbones and strong jaw. Those feral touches in his skull's architecture, combined with his ink-black hair, made him seem better suited for the role of Lucifer, post-fall.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Project Pandora"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Aden Polydoros.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Project Pandora 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. I decided to read this book because I really liked the premise of the story. While there were parts of the book that were really exciting, this was never a book that was hard for me to put down. I did want to see how everything would work out but I just didn't feel a rush to get there. In the end I thought that it was a pretty good story. There were some things that I really liked about this book. I thought that the overall concept was very exciting. Teenage assassins? Yes, please! The backstory about how this organization started and how everything worked were some of my favorite parts of the book along with some of the sections of the book when the agents were on the job. I liked those parts of the book enough that I really wish that there had been more of them. I thought that the action scenes in the book were very exciting and really enjoyed all of them. There were also some things about the book that I didn't like quite as much. I think that there were probably too many points of view in this book. Some of the points of view were really quite similar. I don't think that having four different points of view helped this book at all. I really preferred the parts of the story that gave us Hades point of view a lot more than any of the others. I think that it really slowed the book down to have so many different points of view. I had a few other issues with motivation and coincidences. I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks the concept sounds interesting. This was an exciting story with quite a few interesting twists. I am a bit on the fence on whether I will continue this series or not at this point but I am definitely open to reading more of Aden Polydoros work in the future. I received a review copy of this book from Entangled Teen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here's a link to my review. http://deborahmaroulis.com/2017/08/19/youve-been-activated/
Jolie More than 1 year ago
I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did. See, I really like young adult, mystery, and thriller but I can never find books that have those genres all combined that I actually like. So when I saw the blurb for Project Pandora on NetGalley, my inner antenna went “Hrrmmmm, sounds interesting“. I am glad that I requested the book because it was not what I expected and believe me, that is a good thing. What you read from the blurb is not even half of what goes on in the book. Not even close. There is so much that is revealed in the book that I don’t even think that the blurb could cover it. I was amazed at how easy it was to switch between the storylines too and how the author made some of the chapters as Dr notes/case studies and the actual storylines. What made it easy to distinguish between the chapters was that the author chose to use each character’s code name at the beginning of the chapter. I also liked how the kids matched up with their code names. Take Tyler for instance. His code name is Apollo and every single painting/drawing that I have seen of Apollo, he has been a blonde. Which Tyler was. Shannon was a red-head and as was Artemis. Persephone was always shown as a blonde with blue eyes and Elizabeth is a blonde. Hades…..he is always pictured as a dark-haired, pale man and 2 was just that. Again, it is these little details that really made the book for me. The whole Pandora Project was scary, at least to me, because I have no issues imagining something like this going down. Creating (for lack of a better word) children who will rise to power in the military, goverment…etc is a scary thing. But what scared me, even more, was the description of the sensory deprivation tanks and the horror that Hades and Elizabeth felt when they were going into them. I do wish that more background was given about why the Pandora Project was started. There were hints but nothing that was said outright. Normally, that would have bugged me but seeing that this will be a series, I can’t wait to see what is revealed in the second book. Hades really gave me chills when I was reading his scenes. He was not a bad person but was being molded into a killing machine (or as he put it “evolving“). The torture that they put him through to change him after he tried to escape was horrendous and I am glad that the author only chose to touch upon it. Electroshock, subliminal messages, mind altering drugs and long stretches of time in a sensory deprivation tank…..no wonder he turned into who and what they wanted him to turn into. But deep down, and this is what got me, there was a small piece of himself that was 2 and a small piece that was horrified at all the killing he did. Tyler and Shannon were not aware of who they were until almost the middle of the book when Tyler broke free from the “training” he received and realized what he was doing. Shannon was having doubts and finally broke free of her “training” when Tyler was able to break her out of her fugue (for lack of a better word). Elizabeth’s realization came at the end of the book and it was almost too late. The end of the book was not a happy ending. Oh no, it wasn’t and the storylines were left up in the air. Which I loved. Listen, I like a happy ever after as much as the next person but sometimes a story doesn’t get that. And in this book, it definitely didn’t. **I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
Project Pandora was an entertaining wild and crazy ride of a book that stayed with me long after I was finished reading. I was hooked as soon as I saw that the teenage assassins had code names based on Greek mythology. There's romance, friendship, a few identity crises, illegal human experimentation, and an evil shadowy organization. If that sounds good to you, definitely pick up this debut novel. This book begins with Apollo brutally executing someone. As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that Apollo, or Tyler, has no idea of what he has done or even what he can do. In his mind, he is Tyler Bennet, a kid bounced around the foster system throughout his life. Enter Athena, Persephone, and Hades (seriously, the greek mythology references were awesome). Of them all, only Hade is aware of who and what they truly are. The plot of this book appealed tremendously to both the thriller-loving part of me and the scientist part. For a debut writer, Aden Polydoros is skilled with creating tension while maintaining an air of mystery. I don't want to say too much about the plot because I don't want to give away any spoilers or ruin any of the surprises. I will say that I was a bit confused as to who was who in the beginning of the book but that quickly sorted itself out. There were many ethical and moral dilemmas brought up in this book - it addressed eugenics, mind control, genetic manipulation, behavioral conditioning, and technology. There were beautifully interwoven into the plot of the novel, not too prevalent but definitely present. I do wish that we had learned more about Project Pandora, I feel as if we were only given half the pieces of the puzzle and expected to form a complete picture from them. However, this was the first book in the series so hopefully more details with be forthcoming in future installments. As interesting as Tyler, Elizabeth, and Shannon were, Hades absolutely stole the show for me. He was such a wonderfully complex character and sometimes villain. I was never sure what to expect from him, except I knew that it would probably be romantic if it involved Elizabeth and incredibly bloody if it involved anything else. I loved his backstory and the glimpses we got into his internal struggles. Both the romances in this book were slightly predictable but entirely adorable. There was even one moment near the end when I may or may not have teared up. Project Pandora is an interesting debut that will appeal to readers who enjoy a good thriller or who like darker science fiction. I will definitely be continuing with the series, i can't wait to see where the author takes it next. *Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
Project Pandora was an entertaining wild and crazy ride of a book that stayed with me long after I was finished reading. I was hooked as soon as I saw that the teenage assassins had code names based on Greek mythology. There's romance, friendship, a few identity crises, illegal human experimentation, and an evil shadowy organization. If that sounds good to you, definitely pick up this debut novel. This book begins with Apollo brutally executing someone. As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that Apollo, or Tyler, has no idea of what he has done or even what he can do. In his mind, he is Tyler Bennet, a kid bounced around the foster system throughout his life. Enter Athena, Persephone, and Hades (seriously, the greek mythology references were awesome). Of them all, only Hade is aware of who and what they truly are. The plot of this book appealed tremendously to both the thriller-loving part of me and the scientist part. For a debut writer, Aden Polydoros is skilled with creating tension while maintaining an air of mystery. I don't want to say too much about the plot because I don't want to give away any spoilers or ruin any of the surprises. I will say that I was a bit confused as to who was who in the beginning of the book but that quickly sorted itself out. There were many ethical and moral dilemmas brought up in this book - it addressed eugenics, mind control, genetic manipulation, behavioral conditioning, and technology. There were beautifully interwoven into the plot of the novel, not too prevalent but definitely present. I do wish that we had learned more about Project Pandora, I feel as if we were only given half the pieces of the puzzle and expected to form a complete picture from them. However, this was the first book in the series so hopefully more details with be forthcoming in future installments. As interesting as Tyler, Elizabeth, and Shannon were, Hades absolutely stole the show for me. He was such a wonderfully complex character and sometimes villain. I was never sure what to expect from him, except I knew that it would probably be romantic if it involved Elizabeth and incredibly bloody if it involved anything else. I loved his backstory and the glimpses we got into his internal struggles. Both the romances in this book were slightly predictable but entirely adorable. There was even one moment near the end when I may or may not have teared up. Project Pandora is an interesting debut that will appeal to readers who enjoy a good thriller or who like darker science fiction. I will definitely be continuing with the series, i can't wait to see where the author takes it next. *Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
krlga More than 1 year ago
Tyler tries to be a good kid, work hard at school and keep out of trouble to not cause his foster family any grief. But when his phone rings, a phone he has no memory of even owning, and the words "Olympus is rising" are spoken on the other line, Tyler finds himself responding "Pandora's box is opening" and somebody winds up dead. Tyler has no idea what is going on, what he is doing, or even who he is. But he is just a small part in a very large, dangerous picture. I had originally been interested in this book when I first found it on Netgalley, everything about it intrigued me, from the synopsis to the cover, and I wanted to get my hands on it. Well, I anticipated a good read, but nothing prepared me to the reality of this book. Oh my geez, this book! This is the first book by Aden and it was such an amazing ride. I was sucked into the pages right from the start, losing track of time until next thing I knew, the book was over. This was not an easy, happy read, full of danger, murder, torture, lies, confusion, pain, secrets and not a happy ending, but I would not change a single thing about this story. This is not my first book dealing with brainwashed teens who have been programmed as spies, but it was unique on it's own, and I was kept guessing and on the edge of my seat because nobody was safe. Even though the book's synopsis pretty much only mentions Tyler, there are actually four main characters: Tyler, Shannon, Elizabeth and Hades. The story alters in chapter narration between the four characters, with official Status Reports separating the chapters from the Project Pandora team. Tyler and Shannon both seems to be good kids, living with foster families, being regular teen things...until they are triggered to go on a kill mission that they complete and then promptly forget completely about. I though they were interesting characters, but kind of hard to get to know since they didn't even know themselves, they felt incomplete. Elizabeth is in an entirely different situation, where she comes from money and politics, with rules and strict boundaries that she chafes at, wanting a chance to be herself and not the puppet her parents want her to be. And that leads me to Hades, who is my most favorite character and he gets his own little paragraph here. He was complicated, and that is putting it mildly. He was a dangerous predator, capable of murder in many ways, and he enjoyed what he could do. I was confused by him, horrified by him and then filled with empathy and hope for him. He was a much more fleshed out creature than any other the three in the book, and I could not help but to empathize with him. If anyone needed a hug, it was this guy. His loneliness and despair practically dripped off the pages and I wanted so much more for Hades than he was ever given. He was different from other three because he knew who and what he was and what he was expected to do, fully aware of the torture and degradation that he would have to suffer at his "masters" hands. When he would make comments about not being a real person, and that he was just a corpse to get him through his life, I felt compelled to do something. The book started with confusion and danger, with pieces to the puzzle being slowly dropped for the reader and the characters to try and piece together, until we have so much revealed and then the story ended. I need to read more, and I need it ASAP! I received this title in return for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Let me preface this to say that I received an advance copy of Project Pandora from Netgalley for a fair and honest review. However, I kept procrastinating on reading it until I started getting a ton of emails from the publisher that finally convinced me to bite the bullet (great marketing strategy, btw). So why did I procrastinate? Well, for starters it wasn't necessarily a genre I gravitate towards. I've never cared much for the Jason Bourne series or political thrillers, but I requested it 1) because it's YA and 2) because the premise sounded interesting. And yeah, I liked the cover...I'll openly admit it. Now that my confession is out of the way, I really need to say this: I LOVED IT! And now I'm dying to read the next installment and have no idea when it comes out! Aaargh! I loved the premise. I loved the plot. I loved the characters. I loved the pacing (mostly). And I loved the writing. Usually a book only satisfies one or two of these things for me, but Project Pandora had it all. So color me sufficiently impressed. So why only 4 stars? As I said, I loved the pacing (mostly). The book starts off kind of slow and takes awhile to start revealing the mystery of Project Pandora. I don't think I really started realizing what was happening until I was a third of the way through the book. Thankfully, though, that time was mostly spent introducing the four main characters: Apollo/Tyler, Artemis/Shannon, Elizabeth/Persephone/Nine, and Hades/Two. Which brings me to my second peeve: the characters had too many names! I mean, I'm ok with nicknames scattered here and there (if they called Tyler "Ty" it wouldn't have bothered me). But the various names for the various characters were so different that it became difficult at times to keep track of who was who. For instance, not only was Elizabeth known by all the names listed above but she was also referred to as "Subject 9 of Subset A." Five names for one character is just way too much. Third peeve: the "ownership" problem where it came to guys over girls. It annoyed me to no end every time Hades said "She is mine" when referring to Elizabeth. Or the vibe that the girls somehow needed protection from the guys...Hello! They were all engineered to be deadly assassins! The girls should have been more than capable of kicking ass and taking names without a guy's help. Alas, they were portrayed as "the weaker sex" in need of saving. Aside from this, I loved it. The characters stood apart from one another, each well developed and interesting. I found myself emotionally drawn to them and really feeling a sense of sympathy for how they'd been raised, treated, and manipulated. And the premise really left me questioning the idea of identity and the outside forces that shape it in the individual. Seeing as that was a huge part of my grad research, that really drew me into the story even more. Anyway, as I said before, I'm really looking forward to the next installment of this series and HOPING that it won't be too long a wait.
Lisa_Loves_Literature More than 1 year ago
I don't read a lot of suspense types of stories, but as I do enjoy watching those movies, this book was definitely one that fit into something I might like. And as I read it, I could totally see it being a movie. While at first I had a little issue telling the difference between some of the characters, specifically the two girls, after a while it got to make more sense. Th idea behind Project Pandora was very intriguing, although I would have liked a bit more background information. You really felt for the characters, especially as their minds began to flash back to what they had done in the past, or what they were in the middle of doing. You felt the connection between the teens for sure. Hades, one of the main characters, and Elizabeth, or Persephone, had a connection that you really rooted for. Although at first Hades came off as a psychopath, which really he probably was, you really got to feeling for him the more you read about his life and what he'd been subjected to. On Goodreads it lists this as a series, and I could see there being more to the story, so I'll be interested to see if it does go on. This is a very easy read, lots of excitement to keep you turning pages, needing to know just what is actually going on, and who is pulling the strings of these teens.
Danii_045 More than 1 year ago
Project Pandora wasn't what I expected. It reminded me of a mixture of Kyle XY and Blindspot (Both starring Jaimie Alexander). I would say its unique and a little outside the box. I haven't read anything like it before, and I feel the synopsis of the book doesn't do it justice. Project Pandora is a mystery, suspense novel with romance mixed in. It has violence and action throughout and is set-up to leave you wanting more. Project Pandora is just the beginning. I would recommend reading a sample of this book before deciding if it is for you. Tyler Bennett has trust issues. He is a foster child who moved around a lot. Now he is beginning to lose himself. He can't remember how he got his injuries or what he did the night before. He is questioning himself never mind others. Shannon has a thing for Tyler but could they be closer than they realise already? They are drawn to each other but learning their secrets could get them both killed. Pandora's box should never be opened. Not even to take a little peek. If you haven't guessed Project Pandora contains Greek mythology. This book is written as a story but also contains case notes. It's dark, especially for a teen read. For the right audience, this is going to knock your socks off, however, unfortunately, this book wasn't for me.
Ishmeen More than 1 year ago
4 phenomenal stars for this book!!!! First of all, I wanted to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review! I truly ended up liking it way more than I was expecting and it was definitely a binge read for me. The storyline intrigued me straight from the first chapter, although the character that really deserves every. single. mindblowing. star. is Hades - He was hands down my favourite character in this story and I lived for his POV chapters. His character was just so well crafted and his backstory was just !!! like I am shook?? at how quickly I fell in love with him? The romance buildup in this story was perhaps a little insta-love ish but for someone who lives for slow burns, I found it quite enjoyable and I couldn't help but be swept along with the characters' feelings for each other (especially Elizabeth and *surprise surprise* Hades) The whole storyline kept me on the edge of my seat because I was so curious about what had happened to the characters in reality and what the project's intentions really were! I really wish some things hadn't ended the way they did - hence resulting in me becoming an emotional and miserable mess. But I guess a book that can make you experience such a wide array of emotions is what I'd call a good read and Project Pandora would fall into that category for sure. I look forward to the release of this book and cannot wait for everyone to experience this emotionally wrecking ride ~ I am already anticipating the release of the sequel and excited to read more of the author's upcoming works!
TheThoughtSpot More than 1 year ago
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Project Pandora by Aden Polydorus. Several teenagers are under a trance and are ordered to kill and commit other crimes for someone that goes by the name of Zeus. The mystery surrounding the teens unravels throughout the story as their pasts are explained and, while their memories gradually return, we see the torture they underwent as part of the experiment they evolved from. The teens have three names each: the regular name they go by, a mythological name and a number. The story is told through their alternating points of view, which is intense and suspenseful. Hades' story is a bit different from the other teenagers and his is more heartbreaking and tragic, more complicated and interesting. Project Pandora is a multiple genre book which can be classified as science fiction, dystopian and mystery. Worthy of 5 stars because of its riveting plot and the steady unraveling of the mystery.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
With shades of Jason Bourne, morally ambiguous characters, and trained teenage assassins, I absolutely devoured this book in two days.  This is a dark, intense YA read I found difficult to put down. Although this book is heavy on action, all the characters are captivating and well-developed - but by far, my favorite is Hades.  He's cunning, dangerous, and untrustworthy, but with such a tragic backstory, I dare you not to like him.  He made the book for me.  I've read the author is working on a novella detailing Hades's past - can't wait to get my hands on that one. Told from four POVs, I'd highly recommend this YA sci-fi/thriller to older teens and fans of espionage, conspiracy theories, and psychological thrillers.  Project Pandora knocked it out of the park.   Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.
onemused More than 1 year ago
“Project Pandora” is a really intense and creative YA sci-fi/thriller. We follow four teenagers who are all part of Project Pandora. They all have code names from Greek mythology and perform special jobs (e.g. assassin). Hades is the only one who is aware of his role/job, and he suffers greatly psychologically from the physical/emotional abuse and his role as a murderer. The others have varying degrees of anxiety/depression from their dissociative identities which are triggered with specific phrases. Elizabeth, or Persephone, is a senator’s daughter and expected to behave and dress perfectly at all times. She finds herself drawn to a stranger at a banquet, Hades, and does not want to play her perfect role if it means staying away from him. They become closer and begin to date as things spiral out of control. Shannon (Artemis) and Tyler (Apollo) go to a nearby public school, and they are attracted to each other- unknowing that their extracurricular activities include murdering people together. Things really begin to change as Hades begins to evolve and break free from the reigns of his captors and Tyler is able to resist the assassination brain washing. In part, the book follows teenage romance, but the bigger part of the book focuses on Project Pandora and the control a group of people have over the teens. We get the idea that this is all a very small part of a much bigger plot, and it seems that this will be continued in a sequel. There is main character death here, which I am including in my review for people who may want the warning! The book is extremely intense and really only appropriate for older teen audiences, mostly because of violence, torture, and abuse. Overall, I found it enthralling and hard to put down as we follow these four unique but engaging characters on their journeys of self-discovery. Despite the many viewpoints, it was easy to follow and the story unfolds beautifully! I am looking forward to seeing where this series may go in the future. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.