When fifteen-year-old Krystal Bentley moved to Lincoln, Connecticut, her mom's hometown, she assumes her biggest drama will be adjusting to the burbs after living in New York City.
But Lincoln is nothing like Krystal imagined. The weirdness begins when Ricky Watson starts confiding in her. He's cute, funny, a good listener - and everything she'd ever want - except that he was killed nearly a year ago. Krystal's ghost-whispering talents soon lead other "freaks" to her door - Sasha, a rich girl who can literally disappear, and Jake, who moves objects with his mind. All three share a distinctive birthmark in the shape of an M and, fittingly, call themselves the Mystyx. They set out to learn what really happened to Ricky, only to realize they aren't the only ones with mysterious powers. But if Krystal succeeds in finding out the truth about Ricky's death, will she lose him for good? (book back blurb)
I raced through this book in a matter of a few hours (collectively, over the course of a couple days). Cover to cover. I just couldn't put it down. The story opens with a really bratty Krystal having to go through her parents divorce by pretty much being dragged through it against her will. Despite the over-the-top brattiness, her voice was just so compelling I couldn't stop reading. She really is self-centered and really tried to make the world revolve around her but I can somewhat sympathize with her. My parents divorced when I was just a little younger than her and while the circumstances of their divorce were wildly different, the loss was still there. I just didn't have to uproot myself which was a good thing.
Enter Ricky who essentially hands Krystal the smackdown she so desperately needs. It's because of him that she grows from this self-involved girl caring nothing for anyone else to someone that's willing to go out on a limb to solve other people's problems and actually see the forest for the trees. Her own self-deprecation makes her all the more appealing as a character. When the full situation behind her parents divorce comes to light, she ends up with egg on her face and fully feels the guilt for acting like such a bitch to her mother and step-father. I found this growth so amazingly appealing because it felt so genuine and so realistic. Being humbled hurts and it was nice to see that Krystal doesn't escape that.
I love the fruition of the powers and the people that have them. Sasha is such a torn character, straddling a line between a rich obligation and a human one. I found it ironic that someone who shouldn't want nor need the ability to disappear does have it. I'm wondering how her power is going to grow and what it's going to be used for. It doesn't seem to be as wondrous as Jake's telekinesis or Krystal's mediumship. It'll be interesting to see how that develops. And I love just how pivotal Jake's role in uncovering all of the information is. This "low life" Tracker basically holds the key for these teens to figure out the whys and the hows behind their powers. He's humbled because of his position in life but when the situation calls for it, he protects what he does have unabashedly and without shame. The dynamic between these three is great and they compliment each other wonderfully.
I thought the driving conflict of the story was a little far out there but I liked how it had a very Supernatural (as in the TV show) feel. I couldn't help but equating that black fog that kept appearing to the way demons appear in the show. It makes me want to know what that black fog is, to see if it's similar. I also liked how the supernatural element was kind of second tier to the development of the characters themselves. Yeah, it was a pretty big part but it was more about growth of character than flashy super powers.
The only real issue I had with the book was the rich vs. poor attitude in school. I live in Connecticut and yeah, there are some really rich people here. Really rich. There are also some really poor people too. And the thing with coastal towns in Connecticut, they're either ridiculously rich or pretty inner city. The likes of Bridgeport and New Haven have really high crime rates and if really rich parents happened to live in these cities, their children would not be going to public schools. I mean, if a CT girl was rich enough to have a driver, he certainly wouldn't be driving her to a public school. So that was really the only part that really kept pulling me out of the story. I know that kind of juxtaposition creates great drama but I just don't know how realistic it is for CT. If I didn't know the area, it wouldn't have been a problem.
So overall, Manifest is a great, compelling read that'll have you rocketing from one cover to the other. The spirit-talking is freaky, Krystal is a great character that's put in some scary situations, her friends are awesome and the ending had me wanting to read more. So when does the next book come out?
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