My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Generation Manifestation starts with a very Divergent vibe. Caitlin Feral is preparing for her Final Testing - if she doesn't Manifest now, she'll be assigned a boring (or maybe dangerous) adult job, based on her aptitude scores. There's no room for standing out, for pursuing your own interests, if you're not a Supergenic.
So Caitlin wants to Manifest. She wants it so desperately that she's already tried to fake her way through earlier tests, earning herself some renown amongst the testers. Normand Bamford is the rich, weird guy in class - super rich, super smart, but also super weird. And on this final Testing Day, Normand makes Caitlin promise that she'll survive the Testing - and then later sneaks her a contraband comic book that ends up changing the course of her life.
Like all dystopian and post-apocalyptic books, nothing is as they seem. The X-men type Genetic Wars did not just result in superheroes, or Supergenics, as they're called. They also resulted in weird mutations and beasts who now roam the wastelands outside - which the Supergenics in Jupitar City protect the squalid human boroughs as part of the treaty. But the treaty - and rules - are unfair, and it's only the humans who are truly sacrificing themselves. The status quo may seem to work for now, but the system is broken - and since this is a YA coming-of-age book, it's up to the teens to rebel and break the world, before reshaping it into something better. Not the popular, Supergenic teens though. But the misfits like Caitlin, the weirdos like Normand, and of course, the good-looking popular jock boyfriend ones like Bradie Lopez Nettle who stays by Caitlin even at her worst.
Generation Manifestation is a wish-fulfilment kind of story where the young save the day, where you can make change possible even if you're just a dreg (DNA-regular), where the weirdos rebels are accepted for who they are. It pulses with a deeper kind of persistent love, not just the sex-hormones-emotions kind, but the kind that sticks by someone through thick and thin, that protects each other, that sacrifices themselves for friendship and the greater community. The kind that believes in you and supports you all the way, despite and through your failings.
Help comes from unexpected places, in unexpected ways, and whilst the solution isn't the cleanest (or even the most moral), it's one that offers hope in the midst of compromise. Where allies can work together, even though they'll never actually be friends. Where true stories of the rights violated and the laws broken give people the reason to rebel and fight for a better future, but it's the comic books and dreams of true heroes that will help show them how.
With the breakdown of governments around the world, Generation Manifestation is a wish-fulfilment kind of story, the kind we desperately need right now.
"We can't change the world in a day," I rationalize. "But I will make sure this rebellion has a tomorrow."
Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Edelweiss +. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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