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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Never-To-Be-Forgotten Masterpiece
In my humble opinion The Phoenix Project is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.
It succeeds in an extremely difficult task of being both thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time – while also being uncomfortable but essential reading.
DM Cain has created a terrifying scenario set in the not too distant future where terrorists and other...
Published 9 months ago by Stewart

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I found it very difficult to read this, and ...
I found it very difficult to read this, and stopped after struggling through four chapters or so. The writing is very amateurish, especially in the descriptions of fight scenes, and the characters are cliched and two-dimensional.
Published 5 months ago by Karim Rashad


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Never-To-Be-Forgotten Masterpiece, 18 Jun. 2014
This review is from: The Phoenix Project (Kindle Edition)
In my humble opinion The Phoenix Project is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.
It succeeds in an extremely difficult task of being both thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time – while also being uncomfortable but essential reading.
DM Cain has created a terrifying scenario set in the not too distant future where terrorists and other violent prisoners are pitted against each other in a fight to the death – televised for the world to see.
Terrifying on two counts; one, for the prisoners incarcerated in the brutal world of Salverford prison, and two, terrifying for us readers because this way of legally disposing of violent prisoners is brought alive and believable by DM Cain’s skilful writing.
While some of the detailed description of the fights is particularly brutal, showing the inmates’ inhumanity to fellow prisoners, this is a vital aspect for what follows as we join Raven Kennedy on his horrifying journey. The various fighters’ deliberate and prolonged cruelty within the ring is more than matched by Raven’s cruelty to himself as he struggles to come to terms with the terrible crime that landed him in Salverford.
And that is the book’s strength. DM Cain pulls no punches as she introduces us to Raven’s self-harming attitude, and we see why he is desperate to stay alive so he can suffer more and more until he is satisfied he has atoned for his crime. But will he ever reach self-forgiveness?
The heart of this once-read-never-to-be-forgotten story is Raven’s own guilt and self-loathing, which comes alive with clarity and believability.
Although he committed a monstrous crime, I still sympathised for every injury he sustains in the ring, and every pain he causes himself through self-harming. Here is a guy we want to come through! The actual tale of what led up to his crime runs parallel with his life in Salverford, and indeed both timelines reach their shattering climaxes at the same point in the book.
The descriptive scenes take us into the very heart of Salverford – I could see every nook and cranny, feeling as if I were locked in that cell with him – and the extensive, wonderfully written, dialogue between leading players gives us a unique and changing insight into their characters, what drives them and motivates them.
When I first started reading this book I described it as fastening a collar around my neck and dragging me along, relentlessly, behind it – I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to. That applied right through to the end. The Phoenix Project will remain in my memory for a very, very long time to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A HARROWING AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING JOURNEY INTO THE PRISON OF THE MIND, 26 Jun. 2014
This review is from: The Phoenix Project (Paperback)
This well crafted and well paced book commands attention. From the stark loneliness of the cover design, through the terse, descriptive, often poetic prose, to the epilogue, D.M. Cain cleverly contrasts the characters as seen through their own eyes with how they are viewed by others. Clear images are created: "... her face was striking to look at, like an eagle ... again he was reminded of a bird of prey" and "It was her hair that caught his attention. Long. Red. A waist-length river of fire" to mention only two.

We are introduced immediately to the grim, depressing reality of the prison and to the dark, unforgiving psyche of Raven, the self-hating, self-castigating protagonist riddled by guilt and remorse. Why is he here? Why does he crave punishment? Will his thirst for redemption know no limits? The mystery unfolds ...

Cain's knowledge of and experience with psychology are evident in her character analyses and development. In the third chapter we are hooked into the dialogue: terse, cold, brutal, revealing many aspects of the characters, their fears and longings and motivations.

Many important questions are introduced into the dialogue: elimination of religion by government, the abuse of freedom, capital punishment. The tension and brutality of the concepts of punishment and retribution are threateningly familiar in today's world. The horror and self-revelation Raven experiences in the Dark Room carry us relentlessly and with a sense of relief to the surprise ending ... read it, and find out...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling, enticing, heartbreaking, a true adrenaline rush!, 12 May 2014
This review is from: The Phoenix Project (Kindle Edition)
The Phoenix Project by D.M. Cain has caught me by surprise. While one might argue there are elements in the book not unknown to us and may remind the reader of The Hunger Games or a really depressing episode of Prison Break, The Phoenix Project brings us political and religious views that are new and refreshing.

We follow Raven as he deals with life in prison, the dreadful Phoenix Project. He lives in a society where religion is outlawed and criminals are put away in a prison to fight to the death, fights that are broadcasted live, for all our nation to see. Raven is filled with self-loathing and you can't help but wonder what it is that got him landed there in the first place. He wants to die, but doesn't feel he deserves to, either. Whether or not Raven gets his secret wish, you'll just have to wait and see.

What interested me most though, is that Cain is able to create a world where you actually understand how it got this far. Our Big Brother society, combined with our 'hunger' for reality-tv garbage could potentially lead us to a scenario, so vividly brought to life by Cain. A not-so-gentle reminder to check our own morals, our beliefs and our system of justice. To repeatedly ask ourselves, am I okay with what I see in the mirror?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic plot, 19 July 2014
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This review is from: The Phoenix Project (Kindle Edition)
Having previously read the blurb for this book I honestly didn't believe I would like it as I'm a gentle soul who can't even watch horror movies! However I took advantage of the special offer and from the very first page I was hooked. Yes it is violent in parts but the plot and characters are so strong and interesting that it keeps you wanting to read more. The violence is more a sideline rather than the whole focus of the book. D.m. Cain writes with a beautiful style that draws you in and allows to really envisage the characters and world they live in. I would certainly recommend this book especially if you like an adult story to lose yourself in - I usually read fantasy, romance and the odd crime thriller now & again but I enjoyed this very much
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treatise on man's struggles of civilisation versus survival., 5 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Phoenix Project (Kindle Edition)
I won't sit here revisiting the story, it's in the description above and does a far better job than I could, so I'm just going to write what I think.

So what do I think about DM Cain's 'The Phoenix Project'?

The main protagonist, Raven Kennedy is, at first, unbelievably unlikeable and it is only through the story that we see his character progress. Raven is a guy who's in an extremely dark place, both physically and mentally, he wants to be punished and the government is on hand to see that his wish is carried out in the brutal Salverford prison. This is a story of redemption or one person's attempt at it.

There are, of course other people populating this prison and for many varied reasons and, as with many instances though out life, the real villains aren't always to be found behind bars. Each character introduced is fleshed out well and has their own tragic tale to tell but more importantly each new character shows us a different aspect to Cain's world, a new perspective and as Raven's perspective expands so does ours.

One of my favourite things about 'The Phoenix Project' is the subtle world building. Salverford and Raven's immediate troubles are, of course, the real draw but Cain manages to anchor the world of televised death matches in a world of feasibility. Drawing on events and fears of the world around us Cain has managed to set up a society that has elements of Orwell and of the movie 'Children of Men' allowing you to believe that such a situation would be inevitable and the imminent threats that our own fears and prejudices can and most likely will lead us to.

The fights are brutal, they are exciting and they feel real. The fact that they are televised is even more frightening than the fights themselves. The reality TV aspect to Cain's world is ironic in that it shows an Orwellian Big Brother style world in Salverford and yet shows the popular mainstream aspect that most people now come to associate with the term Big Brother, that of glitzy showbiz, making a sideshow attraction out of ordinary people. These two aspects of the same name and all their connotations act as a dark mirror to our society, showing the way that we ultimately make slaves of ourselves.

So what do I think? It's a warning in the vein of Orwell, of the dangers of fear, prejudice and zealousness. It's a treatise on man's struggles of civilisation versus survival.

What do I think? I think it's a great book that warrants your purchase and demands your attention when reading. It deals with mental illness, depression and self harm and It can make you feel uncomfortable in places but as with many things in life the journey and 'The Phoenix Project' is worth it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deep and breathtaking novel by a talented author, 17 May 2014
This review is from: The Phoenix Project (Kindle Edition)
The Phoenix Project is a thought-provoking, riveting, and masterful epic, written by talented author DM Cain. It is a spectacularly crafted and well-constructed novel. Saying this book is sensational and an absolute triumph is an understatement.

This fantastic novel shows the depravities of a bloodthirsty, corrupt and immoral society, which has no moral compass, no religion, and an uncertain future. In this cruel and brutal world, prisoners of Salverford penitentiary are forced to fight one another, to satisfy the sick appetite and twisted mentality, of this dilapidated society. The wider community enjoy seeing inmates killing each other in gladiatorial death matches for the purpose of sport and entertainment. These death fights are broadcast live on National TV, for the nation to savour.

The government sees The Phoenix Project initiated at Salverford Prison, as a way of reducing the number of criminals in their overcrowded cells. They pit prisoners against each other in the barbaric ‘ring of doom’, to help reduce the number of inmates. The 'lawful' killing of these undesirables elucidates that this society has lost not only its credibility, but its humanity. It is a world without a soul, without a heart; a world beyond redemption.

Raven, the protagonist of The Phoenix Project, is a very deep, poignant yet extremely disturbed character, who suffers inner turmoil, and inflicts pain on himself to such a degree, that it seeps into his consciousness. He is his own worst enemy. Nothing they do to him in prison will hurt him more than he harms himself, as the dark guilt in his heart eats away at his soul, every single day. He is a caged bird incarcerated in a confined, dank room. He is a chained man encased in chains. No matter whether he finds his freedom from The Phoenix Project or not, the only one who can truly free him is himself.

This novel is so profound; the wider social, political and societal issues are explored in much depth. Raven, too, as a protagonist, is a complex multi-layered character, who is stuck in the hellmouth of this base and turbulent society.

DM Cain, this novel is superb. Well done! I look forward to reading your next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing, vivid characters, 5 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Phoenix Project (Paperback)
I usually read thrillers with lots of suspense (and dead people in). But every now and again, I try to read a different genre to expand my reading and add variety -hence The Phoenix Project.

It was such a refreshing change! Truly, the one thing that stands out in this book is the beautiful use of our language. (I wish I had such skill to write my review.) Even in describing horrible scenes or thoughts or circumstances, the writing is beautiful. "Hysterical screams spewed from his lips as he hit the walls, again and again, his muscles aching in protest as they were stretched beyond their limits." Wow. There are many, many more examples I could give, each one giving such a vivid picture in my mind, of Salverford prison, or of Raven. I can hear Kiri singing, I can see Alexia and I know Raven.

The worst aspect of the book? It ended. I'm always sad when I finish a good book as I will never be privy to the lives of the characters any longer. Given the wonderful writing, I was there, in my head, at Salverford and I was with Raven and Kiri and all the other characters.

As I can't continue living in Raven's world, I have settled for the next best thing and bought D M Cain's new book, A Chronicle of Chaos (which I would also recommend)!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, thought provoking and utterly brilliant., 2 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Phoenix Project (Kindle Edition)
I read this in only a few hours as I couldn't put it down. It is an exciting, thought provoking, sometimes violent and superbly written from start to finish. I can’t really say I “enjoyed” the entire book because it is so dark, but I can say that I loved how it is written. Some parts are heavy going, but never boring, and you really get nervous and gripped by the events going down in the prison.

Raven, the protagonist, is self-hating; full of guilt and in serious need of being punished. But why? What terrible crime did he commit to get him looked within the brutal Salverford; where prisoners are pitted against each other in fights to the death for televised entertainment. I believed so strongly that this character was a real person, so great is the writing, that it was hard to see and hear what is going on. I commend the author D.M. Cain for her work, not only with Raven but with everything she writes in The Phoenix Project.

Not only was I hooked from start to finish, but even after I had switched off my Kindle I couldn't stop thinking about it. It’s so believable at times that it is scary.

A marvelously written book and one I will be reading again and again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb debut, soaked in tension and intrigue, 16 May 2014
This review is from: The Phoenix Project (Kindle Edition)
Protagonist, Raven exists in an over-reactive, terrorised society where the prison system has been changed into a kind of barbaric death camp via implementation of The Phoenix project. Through pitting prisoners against each other in a kind of death match style duel, the government hopes to put off potential law breakers and better control the terrorist threat. Thematically, this book could be compared to The Hunger Games. However, the study of the wider society outside of the prison systems (with its interplay of government, religious groups and various factions) is far more interesting than that of the districts in Colins’ trilogy.

What really struck me about this novel, however, was the quality of the writing. Raven begins the book in the prison and the hopelessness of his environment, as well as the action-packed fights, are transmitted unbelievably well. There are also so many questions, the least of which being, why is Raven in the prison in the first place? And information is drip-fed to the reader at the perfect pace – you just have to keep reading!

Overall, a gripping debut, I really do look forward to reading more from this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Phoenix Project is a novel that has a gripping storyline and compelling characters, 16 May 2014
This review is from: The Phoenix Project (Kindle Edition)
The Phoenix Project is a bleak look into the not so distant future, a disturbingly believable future where prison overcrowding, fear of terrorism and a general lack of political and professional accountability has led to the prison systems degrading into a series of publicised death-matches that are more about entertainment and profiteering than justice.

The story follows the convict Raven through his internment in Salverford Prison, and his first exposure to the realities of life within the Phoenix Project. Though Raven's eyes we see first hand the horrors that are perpetrated in the name of justice, and we see that in truth Raven is his own harshest jailer.

The Phoenix Project is a novel that has a gripping storyline and compelling characters. It leads you to feel compassion, respect and pity for the most unlikely of characters, and slowly exposes you to a world where the general apathy of the public may be a far worse crime any that the Salverford inmates have committed. D.M.Cain's début novel is a must read and definitely sets her up as an author to keep an eye on.
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The Phoenix Project
The Phoenix Project by D.M. Cain
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