Deviation by Christine Manzari is the first in an independently published YA dystopian trilogy. In Manzari’s world, following a devastating terrorist attack the US government set up the Sophisticates program of human genetic engineering to produce smarter, faster, better soldiers in the war on terror. The Sophisticates are divided into two groups, the Vanguard who are the intellectual ones, groomed to be the country’s next leaders and the Mandates who are those designed to be physically strong. We follow the story of teenager Cleo, who is the product of such engineering as she learns more about the truth of her conception.
I really enjoyed this novel. I felt it was well written with an interesting protagonist, intriguing setting and good character development.
What I liked
Good concept well executed. The basic concept of the genetic engineering was very well done and interesting. There was the added interest of Cleo’s special abilities and what that means for her. I look forward to seeing where Manzari goes with this in future books.
Nerds vs jocks. It was an interesting take that our protagonist who was raised as a Vanguard suddenly finds herself in a school for Mandates. There is some fun exploration of a fish out of water nerd in a jock environment.
Twist at the end. I really didn’t see this coming and, with the amount of YA novels I read and my familiarity with the tropes, that’s not easy to do. Yet it was well within the scope and concept of the world that Manzari has developed – no deus ex machinae here. Nicely done.
Pacing. We learn more about the Program and its secrets as Cleo does. The narrative kept me turning the pages, and I look forward to reading more.
What I didn’t like
Interesting themes not fully explored. There were a couple of themes that would have loved so have seen developed further. Some of these include the reaction of non-Sophisticate people who find themselves pushed out of leadership and other prime positions in favour of the Sophisticates. I would also like to have read more of Cleo’s attempt to deal with the fact that she has never known her parents and her attempts to find out more about them.
However, as this is the first in a trilogy, I’m prepared to give Manzari a pass on this in the expectation that these will be explored further in subsequent books.
As soon as I finished Deviation I immediately went ahead and downloaded book two, Conviction, to my Kindle, which is a good indication of how much I enjoyed this book.
I gave Deviation four and a half stars out of five.
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