Manifest, by Artist Arthur

Manifest, by Artist Arthur (2010, Harlequin Enterprises, YA, 256 pages)

Krystal is angry and hurting. She didn't want to leave New York to go live with her mom and her mom's new husband Gerald in a small town in Connecticut, and she misses her old life, and her dad, something fierce. But one thing has followed her to her new hometown--the dead.

She's seen them before. But now she's being haunted out of her mind by the ghost of a rather cute boy who wants her help figuring out who killed him, and why...And Ricky's just the most persistent of the ghosts who are making contact with her.

Krystal isn't the only freak in her high school--two other kids have mysterious powers as well, and the same birthmark that Krystal does. These three kids join forces, calling themselves the Mystyx. They don't know why they can do what they do, or how it happened, but they do know that something dark is heading their way...and solving they mystery of Ricky's death might be just the tip of the iceberg.

Krystal is an angry and annoying character for a large chunk of the book. It was incredibly hard to sympathize with her; I wanted to shake her instead. Fortunately, once the book hits its stride, and the supernatural mystery gets going, Krystal stops being quite so self-absorbed, and I was able to enjoy the ghostly intrigue. And it was a rather gripping mystery, although Arthur stops short of actually bringing all the pieces together, presumably keeping that for future books, which was a tad frustrating. Most of the really interesting paranormal aspects are still utterly unexplained....

What makes this book stand out is that Krystal and her friends are normal African-American teenagers (apart, of course, from their supernatural abilities); their ethnicity wasn't a plot point, just a fact of their lives (and isn't it a beautiful cover!).

In short, although this first book of the series was somewhat uneven, the second book promises more -- Krystal's grown up somewhat, and I no longer want to shake her, and the paranormal plot is about to really get going!

Other reviews at The Brain Lair, Girls in the Stacks, On a Pale Star, YA Addict, and Marie Loves Books.

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