The Dandelion Project follows an orphaned German immigrant named Josef that comes to the United States in the 1920’s. He’s orphaned at a young age when his mother unexpectedly and suddenly dies and he’s left wandering the streets of New York. Josef is sent to Kansas where he’s adopted by a childless farming family. He finds that he has a knack for science and desires to be a great inventor, but he struggles with fitting in at school so he drops out. He spends most of his time in libraries reading books on different subjects while the 1930’s and 40’s fly by. Josef soon finds himself in New Orleans where he’s confronted with a project that will give him the one thing that he’s always wanted; a chance to change the world. But will it be a change for the better or worse?
The Dandelion Project is a fantastic piece of literary fiction. The story development is slow, but meticulous and detailed. The story is about 90 percent narration, which in this case works well because it mirrors Josef’s reserved, but intelligent demeanor through the story. The majority of the book serves to develop Josef’s character while the crux of the story, the Dandelion Project, is delivered in the last few chapters. So, I think, the main point of the story is Josef himself and his life, rather than the project he undertakes late in the story. But still, Josef’s story is an interesting one that’s supported more by exceptional storytelling rather than grand fictional twists and turns. Because of this, the ending came as a surprise, it being a fairly large twist itself, and places the story firmly in the science fiction genre. This is odd because the first three quarters of the book could nearly be a non-fiction story. The emotional ending of the story left me with the same feeling of melancholy I had when I finished Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ or ‘I am Legend’. I don’t want to give too much away, but the ending, although sad, is satisfying. This is definitely going to be a story that sticks with me for some time.
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