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


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!


Meet the Author: Astrid Scholte!

This summer on Penguin Teen, we’re celebrating all the amazing debut books hitting shelves and the incredible authors who wrote them! This week we’re reading Astrid Scholte’s Four Dead Queens. Astrid Scholte’s debut made QUITE the splash last February, and now she’s here to tell you all about it herself!   Hello! I’m Astrid Scholte and my debut … Continued
See More

Quotes Readers are Loving from TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN

If you’re a John Green fan (or even if you aren’t), you know that he is one of the most quotable authors out there. Since the Turtles All the Way Down paperback just recently hit shelves, we have absolutely loved seeing which quotes from the book have resonated with readers, inspiring incredible fan art, and beautiful bookstagrams, … Continued
See More

Cinnamon rolls to the rom-com front!

While we love writing unapologetic, unconventional girls—flirtatious, forward Megan and cutting Cameron—we don’t often discuss the other half of the romance equation in our YA rom-coms: the guys. We love our male leads, and we’re excited to unpack them in the context of important conversations in and outside YA on male stereotypes and masculinity.   … Continued
See More

Important Moments from John Green’s Interview on 60 Minutes

Whether you know him as the founder of Vid-Con, the YouTuber you can’t stop watching, or the author who made you cry your eyes out, chances are: you’ve heard of (and love) John Green. In case you missed John Green’s appearance on 60 Minutes (aired October 7th, 2018), we’ve rounded up some of the most … Continued
See More

Recapping Game of Thrones: Final Season, Episode 5

Carnage.   Wow.   “The Bells” did, in fact, toll during the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones. But then Daenerys decided to, um, kill everyone.   After she’d won.   After King’s Landing had been taken efficiently and neatly, with minimal loss of life and during a full surrender by its people.   And … Continued
See More

Four Dead Queens: the PLAYLIST!

Let’s face it. Sometimes, you’re reading an epic mystery fantasy and you just need to jam. As it turns out, Astrid Scholte author of Four Dead Queens feels the same way, and she’s shared her playlist with us! Although she’s not one for writing to music, she certainly knows how to build the perfect Four Dead Queens reading atmosphere. Scroll … Continued
See More

Read an interview & excerpt with the author of THE ART OF BREAKING THINGS!

In honor of our #NewBooksNewVoices celebration, Laura Sibson, author of The Art of Breaking Things has answered some questions for us and shared some insider info on her publishing journey! Read her interview below and scroll down to read an excerpt of her debut novel, The Art of Breaking Things!   Q: What are your top three absolute … Continued
See More

Recapping Game of Thrones: Final Season, Episode 4

  A lot happened in “The Last of the Starks,” that’s for sure, and not all of it good. The show decided to reward many of its followers with some good old-fashioned fan service, but also revealed some of its persistent flaws. Since this week’s episode came right off the back of another crazy, zany, … Continued
See More

Meet the Author: Laura Sibson!

This summer on Penguin Teen, we’re celebrating all the amazing debut books hitting shelves and the incredible authors who wrote them! This week we’re reading Laura Sibson’s The Art of Breaking Things. But, instead of us telling you about Laura Sibson’s gorgeous debut, we’re going to let author tell you herself!     My debut young adult novel, The … Continued
See More

Recapping Game of Thrones: Final Season, Episode 3

Well it certainly was a “Long Night.” Man. Wow. So much to unpack. I don’t have the space, stamina, or processing power to cover everything incredible that happened in last night’s LONGEST RUNNING BATTLE SCENE IN TV OR MOVIE HISTORY, so I’ll stick to the highlights and low light—literally, it was dark (again, literally)—of one … Continued
See More