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?
Christine Manzari’s Deviation strikes me as a rather fun mix of Stephen King’s Carrie, the J. J. Abrams television show Alias and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series. In Cleo, Manzari creates a protagonist that we can root for, and who has all too many flaws, which, of course, puts the reader on her side at once. The basic premise, that a little genetic tampering would grant you a place as a Sophisticate of the Program, is rather clever, if not a little creepy. Like all good speculative fiction, it manages to take trends in our current culture and extrapolate them out to their (il)logical conclusions. The prose in the novel is quite a bit better than other books of its ilk, which often seemed dumbed-down for teen readers. Manzari rather refreshingly refuses to do that.
– Judge, Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards
Deviation won first place in Reader Views Literary Awards for Young Adult Novels, ages 15-18