Keep Me Posted!

Sign me up for the latest news from Penguin Teen, including new books, special offers, and promotions.

Things that ALMOST happened in the Project Nemesis

SHARE

The Project Nemesis Series — Things That ALMOST Happened (But Didn’t)

by Brendan Reichs

 

When I was asked to write this article by the wonderful folks at Penguin Teen I was initially terrified, because it’s essentially asking me to open a Pandora’s box of ideas that I’d at one point seriously considered, but ultimately rejected. Would I now, after years of being at peace with my decisions, suddenly come to regret choices I’d made earlier in the series? The whole concept seemed absolutely fraught with danger. But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered funny things that I almost let happen, but realized would, in fact, be terrible ideas. So here are three major changes that were made as the series went along, and why I didn’t keep them.

 

Tack was a girl, and her name was Stacey. Okay, this is a big one right off the bat. Originally, I had planned for Min to have best friend named Stacey who lived in the trailer park just like she did, and was her best friend in all things. On the surface, Stacey’s personality was going to essentially be the same as Tack’s—crass and brash, but with a good heart—only she would be more pushy in her questions and more involved in the mystery. Basically, a confidante for all of Min’s concerns. Then, ultimately, Stacey was to be revealed as a government plant who betrayed Min.

 

I’m really, really, really really glad I didn’t go with this storyline. I had just finished my Virals series and that involved a girl with three best friends who were boys, so I initially was shying away from that type of relationship at the core of Nemesis. But as I put the story together, I realized that this was simply one betrayal too many for the plot, and Min needed at least one person in her life she could count on without reservation. Tack was born out of the desire to give Min at least one firm grip on the world around her. Tack is abrasive, crude, and touchy, but he’s also whip-smart, loyal, and indefatigable in his defense of Min. Plus he’s really funny. Min needed a true friend, and so did the story. Also, I wanted Min to be isolated in dealing with the unique problem of getting murdered all the time. I needed to take away the crutch of her sharing this insane situation with a close friend to reveal her inner strength. So, sorry Stacey, but you had to go. Maybe next series?

 

Noah was initially a confident baller. I initially thought Noah would be a strong as Min as he worked through the terrible reality of his repetitive murders, but then I decided, haven’t we read that guy before? That’s been done—and well—in other YA series. What would happen if, instead, I made Noah an emotionally mess? Like, practically a basket case? I freely admit that I haven’t read the entire depth and breadth of kid-lit—so I’m certain to have missed out on hundreds of wonderful books that touch on this idea—but I couldn’t recall a young adult thriller where the male protagonist was a shattered, terrified shell who was barely keeping it together basically all the time.

 

I immediately like Noah more. I liked that he looked to Min for support, and recognized the strength she possessed that he didn’t. I like that Noah was able, if only to himself, to acknowledge that he was suffering emotional trauma and needed the comfort of professional counseling. Noah is just a normal guy going through an impossible situation, and I wanted his character to reflect that. He was much more interesting as vulnerable, and it made the ending of Nemesis all the more exciting to write. And it made his transformation in Genesis that much more complex. Noah ends up taking perhaps the longest emotional journey in the series, and that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t started him in such a fragile state.

 

Genesis was going to be the end. I originally designed the series to take place over two books only, and the opening setting of Chrysalis was going to be the end of the story. Nemesis was the conspiracy, Genesis was the experiment, and that was going to be that. But … I just couldn’t say goodbye to these characters yet. Genesis was a terrible crucible that tested my protagonists’ belief systems. It challenged their definitions of what it meant to be alive, what it was to be human, and what “right and wrong” are inside a vacuum of consequences. It ground these poor kids down and spit them out. To simply end it at that point felt like a cheat to their emotional arcs. They needed a shot at showing what they’d learned and internalized.

 

How would they recover from what happened to them? Could anyone work together after what they’d experienced? Where the heck were they now, anyway? I just couldn’t walk away from those questions. Chrysalis was born from an intense desire to give these kids the ending they deserved, let them show how they’d grown, survived, and adapted, and to throw a last few diabolical curveballs at my readers. It was intensely fun to write. I got to use new tricks while dreaming up some—GASP—new characters, all while driving the story to a place I didn’t realize it could go. I enjoyed writing this final chapter so much, I can’t imagine having stopped short. I hope my readers agree!

 

 

Want more inside info on the Nemesis Project? Checkout these 4 key moments from the series finally EXPLAINED!

#AuthorSpotlight

Rosaria Munda’s Fantasy Book Recs!

Fireborne is Rosaria Munda’s thrilling fantasy debut. In case you’re new to this Game of Thrones meets Harry Potter fantasy you’ve always needed in your life story, here’s a bit about the book! About Fireborne: Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing … Continued
See More

11 Authors you really should be following on Instagram

Looking for writing tips? Sneak peeks into future books? General awesome content? There are a few authors you should definitely be following!   Ruta Sepetys View this post on Instagram The first edition of THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE is back from the printer. Such an emotional author moment! After years of writing and research, seeing … Continued
See More

Read an interview & excerpt with the author of THE VIRTUE OF SIN

Hooray, it’s excerpt day! In continuation of our #NewBooksNewVoices celebration, Shannon Schuren, author of The Virtue of Sin is answering some questions and sharing her publishing journey! Read her interview below and scroll down to read an excerpt of her debut novel.   Q: What are your top three absolute FAVORITE reads?   A: The Female of the Species … Continued
See More

Welcome to the We Are YA Podcast!

YA books are longer than 280 characters. Conversations about YA should be too. Welcome to the We Are YA podcast! Over 7 episodes, host Anna Borges will be talking all all things YA with the amazing authors that make up the modern YA community. Here is where you can find additional information and links to each episode! … Continued
See More

Top 5 Writing Tips…from Debut Authors!

Any aspiring writers out there? We see you! And we something super exciting to share today. You’ve probably noticed a lot of amazing debuts hitting shelves this year. In fact, had a whole #NewBooksNewVoices celebration! Now, those authors are here to share with you their absolute BEST writing tips!   Laura Sibson, author of The Art of … Continued
See More

Meet the Author: Shannon Schuren!

We’ve been celebrating all the amazing debut books hitting shelves this year, not to mention the amazing authors who wrote them! This week we’re reading Shannon Schuren’s intense, addictive debut The Virtue of Sin, a shocking tale about a cult and one girl’s determination to speak out. Scroll down to hear from Shannon about her debut! I’m Shannon, and my … Continued
See More

9 Authors who absolutely cannot wait for The Beautiful!

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh is hitting shelves in just a couple of weeks, and there are a few beloved YA authors who have some early tickets to the hype train 🌹📚   From Queen Marie Lu,   To the amazing Sarah Nicole Lemon! “And to think I read it as a Word doc. I feel so … Continued
See More

Read an excerpt & interview with the author of THE GRIEF KEEPER

It’s excerpt time! We’re concluding our #NewBooksNewVoices celebration with Alexandra Villasante’s The Grief Keeper. AND she’s answering some questions about her journey to publishing! Read her interview below and scroll down to read an excerpt of her debut novel.       Q: What are your top three absolute favorite reads?   A: Something old: I re-read Garth Nix’s … Continued
See More

The first excerpt of Steel Tide…with Natalie C. Parker’s commentary!

With Seafire‘s stunning paperback glow-up now gracing shelves and Steel Tide just around the corner, it’s time for an excerpt! Not just any excerpt though…we’ve got author commentary! Natalie C. Parker is giving insider info and commentary on all things Caledonia in the first riveting (annotated!) chapter of STEEL TIDE! Find the excerpt and her notes below with … Continued
See More

Meet the Author: Alexandra Villasante!

We’re finishing our #NewBooksNewVoices celebration on a very strong note: Alexandra Villasante’s debut! We’ve been celebrating all the amazing debut books hitting shelves this year and this week we’re reading Alexandra’s stunning debut The Grief Keeper, a timely and heartfelt speculative narrative about healing, faith, and freedom. Scroll down to hear from Alexandra about her debut!   The Grief Keeper … Continued
See More
BACK TO TOP