Available tomorrow (August 1, 2010)!
Manifest is a dark and mystical tale of three teenagers' fight to come to terms with their incredible powers, the tribulations of teenage life, and the darkest horrors of the human race. The tone of the novel feels as though someone is telling the tale aloud, and the first person perspective places the reader directly into the head of the strong and spunky heroine, Krystal. The reader will certainly sympathize with Krystal, even though her feelings are often inscrutable despite the transparency of her thoughts, because the entire cast of characters seems to conspire against her.
Though Manifest is a young adult novel dealing with teenage issues, it is surprisingly unsympathetic toward Krystal. Some of the commentary on Krystal's "spoiled brat" behavior is frustrating because the poor girl has every right to be sad and upset -- her mother abruptly left her father, uprooting Krystal's life and taking her away from the father who was her friend and confidante, without ever bothering to explain her reasons. Suddenly Krystal finds herself seeing snarky ghosts in a shivery small town, living with her reticent mother and grouchy stepfather. Her feelings aren't unreasonable, and yet everyone from the obnoxious and arrogant ghost Ricky to the shrink she's forced to visit are upbraiding her heartbreak.
Though ostensibly a paranormal young adult novel, Manifest is really more of a murder mystery with a supernatural slant. While the three main characters do possess otherworldly powers, the focus is less on that and more on the malignant mystery surrounding the high school and its three missing (and dead) students. While the mystical powers come into play occasionally (after all, it is Krystal's ability to see the murdered students' ghosts that gets her into this mess), they need further developing to truly carry some weight in the story. It seems implausible that the teens don't experiment more with their new-found abilities, becoming stronger and more experienced in preparation for the impending, unnamed threat that lurks over the small town.
Part of the novel's mystery lies in the difficulty of distinguishing between good and evil -- each character seems to harbor a dark secret, leaving the reader questioning their motives and true nature. More character development would add greatly to the story. The three protagonists have the potential for a powerful dynamic, but their relationship needs further development, which the conclusion seems to move toward. The creepy climax is bone-chilling, though the final confrontation is a bit subdued after the intense build-up. Artist Arthur skillfully amps up the adrenaline and the latter half of the novel is downright spooky. The murder mystery and ghost story aspects of this novel are compelling, and the ending is an absolute cliffhanger, but it still lacks the strong characterization that would truly make for a stellar read.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this novel from NetGalley. This did not affect my review in any way.
Click here to pre-order Manifest by Artist Arthur
This novel counts toward the 2010 Debut Author Challenge.
To read an excerpt of Manifest, please click "Read More" below!