The action-packed, character-driven story of Clementine (Cleo) and the other Sophisticates (genetically altered individuals created to be smarter, faster, and stronger for the purpose of protection against terrorists) takes the reader on an adventure that, well, reminds me of riding with my daughter when she was a teenager learning to drive. At the start it seems harmless enough, but there's that nagging voice that keeps telling me to watch out. I do. Sure enough, things start shifting around, and it becomes a little alarming. That all changes to fear because of several how-is-anyone-going-to-get-out-alive moments. Then, there comes a sigh of relief when it looks like everything is going to be all right, but suddenly...
Yes, it's that kind of experience.
The list of characters, on the surface, appears to be typically behaved teenagers. Cleo, Arabella, and Sterling are misfits among the other St. Ignatius Academy students. Quinnie is the popular socialite with her little group of followers. Her goal is to make the lives of the misfits miserable or, at least, try to. Ozzy is the good-looking, easy-smiling, secret-holding guy who splits his time between the two groups and who, of course, Quinnie has a "thing" for. Because of the attention Ozzy gives Cleo, Quinnie is even more determined to bully Cleo, Arabella and Sterling. It is the classic adolescent story, but it takes a very definite twist and many interesting turns as Ms Manzari leads the reader through a maze of teenage life wrapped in a world of secrets, lies, and misdirection that only The Program (government), scared for its self, can create. When it is revealed that some of the Sophisticates (12 to be exact) have been given special powers that turn them into human super weapons, the plot definitely thickens. The Deviant Dozen is a force to be reckoned with as each individual of that group struggles with not only the moral consequences of such power, but the demands of The Program. The journey is fascinating and frightening as there is enough of today's reality woven into the plot to make it all plausible.
The ending, to me, was a bit unsatisfying, but that is a totally subjective matter. In my opinion, the ending of any book should leave the reader feeling that the book is finished even if the story isn't. That didn't happen for me in this case. Nevertheless, I did appreciate the beautiful description of the setting at the end of the book and how it affected both Cleo's and Ozzy's feelings in regard to freedom. (No, that's not a spoiler. They, like most of us, are always searching for that moment, that place, where one feels truly free.)
Yet, no matter my one complaint, this was definitely an entertaining story with impressive characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found the epilogue enticing. I want to read more. I'm worried about Cleo and the gang. I need to know they're okay.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review on behalf of the Awesome Indies.