“Lillian is merely looking for a babysitting job for the summer, but a desperate man named Paul Dolores hires her to look after his 28-year-old brother, Caleb. Caleb is suffering from schozoaffective disorder, and Paul, who is about to start on his first office job in a long while, wants to make sure his brother takes his medication on time. Lillian, at first hesitatn, accepts the job for the pay and the perks, but soon starts to wonder about the brothers she is working for. How come she can’t find any information online about the drugs Caleb is taking? And how come the national central database lists them as dead?”
Where have you been all my life, Project 17? Well, all my life might be pushing it. Since I’ve started reading locally-produced novels, I mean.
Oh, right. Languishing in my bed, because I kept reading other stuff first. Now I regret not getting to this book sooner. Because not since Naermyth have I read something that has a good premise, a good plot, and a near perfect execution. (Okay, so maybe Naermyth doesn’t have a near perfect execution. But I still have my fingers crossed for the sequel. But we’re not here to talk about that book.)
This is the first Filipino novel, I think, that I’m posting about here with no complaints whatsoever. The book cover is nice and intriguing, and so is the title. The synopsis is slightly misleading, but it doesn’t really lie. And our plucky heroine, even though she’s a little too nosy for her own good, isn’t annoying. She’s just the perfect blend of curiosity, spunk, and general niceness.
The world-building Eliza Victoria does for Project 17 is just right. It doesn’t veer away too much from what is real, so her world actually does feel real. It doesn’t dive too much into sci-fi territory, dealing instead with technology that is entirely plausible–give or take a decade or two. The point is, it doesn’t overpromise. Technology has gone far, but it doesn’t forget the fact that the Philippines is a third world country. It doesn’t forget our penchant for idolatry. It doesn’t forget that it is Filipino.
How Project 17 deals with family is a very Filipino concept. I mean, I’m not saying if something is family-oriented, it’s already very Filipino. I have seen Italian films, and Jewish films, and Greek films… and I’ve also read novels from all over. But how author Victoria handles family is what makes it Filipino.
There’s a sense of loyalty that sometimes border on begrudging while being completely rooted in love. And it is this that makes Victoria’s Project 17 work. You care about the characters because the characters care about each other. You want to see them succeed, even before you know what they need to succeed from.
You want them to have a happily ever after, even though the odds are never in their favor.
If there’s anything to complain about the book it’s actually just the fact that it’s too short. I think Eliza Victoria could’ve snuck in a few more chapters in there just to further develop main character Lillian’s relationship with everyone. And with the discoveries and uncovering of conspiracies.
But what we got is just right too.
And we wouldn’t want to mess with something that’s already good, right?
So, hurrah, Eliza Victoria, for giving me an awesome first Filipino Friday read for 2014! May you write more quality novels with substance that would (hopefully) sell well.
I look forward to reading more novels from you. In the meantime, I’m gonna get my hands on your A Bottle of Storm Clouds.