Friday, 21 January 2011
Review: Manifest by Artist Arthur
Manifest is the first title in the Mystyx series, about a group of teens who share the same m-shaped birthmark - and the paranormal abilities that come with it. Told from the point of view of new girl in town Krystal, Manifest sees the trio helping a teenage boy who was shot dead the year before. Krystal is a city girl, and this really comes across in her first-person narration - there's a candid and witty directness to her turn of phrase and the pattern of her speech that's fairly unusual for heroines in this genre. While some may find her a little self-obsessed, Manifest sees her forced to confront the issues that have made her that way, and it's reasonable to suspect that the second instalment in the series will see her putting that behind her. As she tries to help Ricky move on, he's also trying to help her do the same.
There's something really refreshing about the multiculturalness of Manifest. In a school with its own peculiar class system, cliques are based on which Lincoln neighbourhood students come from - but Krystal's (relatively small) circle of friends is diverse in gender, ethnicity and economic background. The Mystyx form a bond which defies their school's tendency towards segregation while still holding onto their sense of identity as individuals, and that's got to be a good thing. At the same time, their respective abilities have their roots in Greek mythology, and subsequent instalments in the series will no doubt reveal more about that connection. The result is an intriguing blend of 21st century setting and mysterious ancient power.
As this is YA paranormal, heroine Krystal soon finds herself in the middle of the obligatory love triangle. However, Manifest lets us off pretty easy on this score, as the romance is really more of a subplot than the cover blurb might lead you to believe. On one hand we have Ricky, the cute and sensitive ghost boy who needs Krystal's help to resolve his unfinished business in this world. On the other is the somewhat full-on Franklin, a fellow student at Lincoln High who is very much alive. While Krystal is hesitant about Franklin, she's soon mulling over her attraction to Ricky. Those looking for a sweeping paranormal romance will be disappointed, as there's no melodramatic love story here. Krystal's supposed feelings for Ricky aren't especially evident in their interactions, so her occasional references to them read as the words of a girl trying to make sense of an unusual friendship rather than a girl falling in love. In contrast, her scenes with Franklin are less paranormal romance and more paranormal dating. Krystal's fifteen, she's got other things going on in her life, and you get the sense that boys aren't her biggest concern right now.
Manifest is an interesting start to the Mystyx series. The mystery behind Ricky's death is geuninely sinister and shocking, and though a few story threads are left open for the next book, there's enough closure in this instalment to satisfy those who don't want to commit to reading an entire series. If you're looking for a paranormal story minus the romantic melodramas, take a look at this one.
Out: July 27th 2010, US
Thanks to Becky The Bookette for kindly passing on her copy of Manifest.