Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on September 3, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction
Fifteen-year-old Jeff Jacobson had never heard of Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous serial killer who brutally murdered seventeen people more than twenty years ago. But Jeff’s life changes forever when the man he’d thought was his father hands him a government file telling him he was constructed in a laboratory only seven years ago, part of a top-secret government cloning experiment called ‘Project CAIN’.
There, he was created entirely from Jeffrey Dahmer’s DNA. There are others like Jeff—those genetically engineered directly from the most notorious murderers of all time: The Son of Sam, The Boston Strangler, Ted Bundy . . . even other Jeffrey Dahmer clones. Some raised, like Jeff, in caring family environments; others within homes that mimicked the horrific early lives of the men they were created from.
When the most dangerous boys are set free by the geneticist who created them, the summer of killing begins. Worse, these same teens now hold a secret weapon even more dangerous than the terrible evil they carry within. Only Jeff can help track the clones down before it’s too late. But will he catch the ‘monsters’ before becoming one himself?
In real life, animals have been cloned, including at least one instance I can remember of a person cloning a beloved pet. It’s not too far-fetched to think that one day, setting aside all of the ethical implications, a human might be cloned. In fact, I wouldn’t blink if you told me that U.S. scientists were holed up in some secret government facility in the middle of the desert, plotting to develop an army of clones. So who should we clone? A genius like Albert Einstein? A musical prodigy like Beethoven? A humanitarian like Nelson Mandela? How about…famous serial killer, cannibal and necrophiliac Jeffrey Dahmer? And here we have Project Cain. In Project Cain, the government has decided to build clones of famous serial killers including Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and others.
Let’s think about we know about serial killers. They’re sociopaths and/or psychopaths. They have no conscience. Rules and laws don’t mean a whole hell of a lot to them. Now, what do we know about soldiers? They follow rules. End of story. How in the world can you expect to control a serial killer? They kill because they like it. Soldiers kill because they’re ordered. Also, the reason why we know the names of all these serial killers is because…they got caught. So, they’re sloppy and careless, to boot. I don’t think I’d want people like this in my army.
But here’s my biggest problem: Are serial killers born, or are they made? Or maybe it’s a combination of both? This is the most critical problem with the book’s theory. Perhaps some serial killers have something in their brain chemistry that ensures they are destined to kill, no matter what their life experiences. But surely this is not the case for all of them. If nurture plays even the smallest part, the whole “let’s make an army of cloned serial killers” idea falls apart, since it’s absolutely impossible to replicate every life experience of a person. As I read the book, I kept waiting for this issue to be raised. Finally, late in the book it was very briefly mentioned and then seemingly dismissed.
At times I asked myself: Where’s the story? It reads like a mixture of a wide-ranging variety of history lessons and a fictional story, with the story seeming secondary. Much of it was interesting, in particular the information regarding experiments the U.S. conducted on its own unwitting citizens, but it doesn’t add up to an interesting plot. The story constantly stopped and started in order to provide these info dumps. When I finished the book, I’d learned a lot about serial killers, but I could have looked it all up on Wikipedia.
Review posted at Goodreads.