Book Review: Deviation by Christine Manzari

deviation_cover_ebookTitle: Deviation
Author: Christine Manzari
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Being a Sophisticate of the Program seems like it’d be a pretty sweet deal: a little genetic alteration and anyone can be smarter, faster, and stronger. It’s a dream come true. All you have to give up is your freedom.

Cleo is a Sophisticate and she has a bright future in the Program. But she has a secret. When she gets upset, bad things happen. Explosive things. Things she can’t control.

When her secret is discovered, she’s sent to the Academy to train in the military branch of the Program. She’s destined to be a human weapon in the war that’s been going on since Wormwood occurred nearly 30 years ago. She soon learns that although her ability is unique, there are others like her — other Sophisticates with lethal skills and odd code names like Archerfish and Mimic Octopus.

Immersed in a dangerous game of supernatural powers and dubious motives, Cleo doesn’t know who to trust. Ozzy, the annoyingly attractive cadet who has perfect aim in weapons class and deviant lips behind closed doors, begs her not to use her powers. He’s the golden boy of the Program, but can she trust him? Or will she find herself a target, caught in his crosshairs?

Deviation is a rare gem, the kind of book that you only find a few times a year, tops. Even though it’s indie-published, it has all the qualities of a mainstream novel: excellent writing, quality editing, and an enjoyabe, intriguing, fast-paced story.

The story starts out by introducing us to Cleo, a Sophisticate. She’s part of the Program, their “property” as they so eloquently call her in their email to her when she tries to hack into one of their programs to try and find out the identity of her real parents. Sophisticates are genetic alternations. They’re faster, stronger and smarter than ordinary human beings, but in exchange for these abilities, their lives belong to the government. They have no freedom and are raced in government-controlled facilities and trained to become either a Vanguard – who stand out because of their intelligence – and the Mandates, who are strong, and capable, and who work in the military and help destroy terrorists.

Cleo’s life has always been pretty straightforward: she’ll be a Vanguard. Not much choice in that. But then, she gets so upset at the email proclaiming her to be the government’s property that she somehow makes just about everything in her room explode: her computer, TV, you name it, it’s gone. Although her best friend Cassie tries to rationalize what’s going on, Cleo knows better: there’s something wrong with her. And when the Dean ships her off to St. Ignatius, an academy for the Mandates, her entire future has been erased and changed in the blink of an eye.

She now has to train for the military branch of the Program. Luckily she becomes fast friend with Sterling, an extremely fast runner, and Arabella, who has a new hairstyle just about any day. They’re two outcasts at the academy, but boy, are their fun to be around. They have an excellent sense of humor and are adorable secondary characters with their bickering back and forth.

Unfortuately Cleo also makes her share of enemies, in particular Quinnie, who seems to want to target Cleo at every move. And then there’s Ozzy, one of the most attractive guys Cleo has ever met, but at the same time he’s also annoying and even stalkerish, and Cleo has no idea why he goes out of his way to talk to her, except that her new friends warn her not to trust him.

I don’t want to give any more away, but trust me on this one: Deviation is awesome. The plot is amazing, and I absolutely loved it. Cleo and her friends are kick-ass awesome characters, in particular Ozzy (swoon). All secondary characters have their own personality traits and together they form an intriguing bunch. I definitely wouldn’t mind befriending them!

If you read one dystopian this year, then pick this one. I can throw superlatives at you until tomorrow morning but that still won’t explain how awesome this book is. I’m officially hooked. Next book in the series? Yes, please!

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