Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy

Thomas, Angie. Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy
April 4th, 2023 Balzer and Bray
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Nic Blake, who lives with her father in Jackson, Mississippi, is excited to turn 12. It means that her father, who homeschools her, will finally teach her to use the Gift, and perhaps let her have a hellhound puppy. Her best friend, JP, doesn't know that she and her father are Manifestors, a particular kind of Remarkables, but the two bond over a fictional story about a boy involved in magic. When the new book in the series comes out, Nic attends a book signing and finds out that the author, TJ Retro, is an old friend of her father's, and the books are based on their childhood! This opens up a lot of secrets, however; Nic thought that her mother had abandoned her, but it turns out that it was her father who took her away from Uhuru, where most Remarkables live and her grandmother is president of LORE, and has been hiding with her as an exile. Not only that, but her father is also accused of stealing the Msaidizi, which can change forms but is crucial to the safety of Uhuru. Nic also has a twin brother! She realizes that the only way to save her father is to embark on a journey to find the Msaidizi, which can change forms, making them difficult to find. She aslso has a twin brother, Alex! She realized that the only way to save her father is by meeting with a variety of Remarkables (who are drawn from African folklore), completing a heroic quest, and exploring a prophecy and a secret about herself that needs to be further examined in another book in this series!
Strengths: Nic's desire to be included into Remarkable culture is strong, and the description of the different types of Remarkables and how they function in the Unremarkable world is great fun. Having a magical creature of one's own is an added bonus, and the hellhoud puppy, while stinky, will speak to readers who want their own familiar. The family secrets are both devastating and somewhat of a relief; Nic is both angry but glad to get to know her brother, which whom she has quite a bond. JP is a fun character, with his preacher father and religious background, which he uses to great effect in many of the battles in which the trio are embroiled. There is definitely another book on the horizon; the family connections need to be explored and smoothed out, and Nic needs to spend some time settling into Uhuru, although I'm glad that JP will be allowed to visit. 
Weaknesses: This does embrace a lot of middle grade fantasy tropes: getting magical powers at puberty, heroic quests, and friends from outside of the magical realm that get drawn into the adventure. While I have read dozens of similar books, my students have not, so this probably won't matter to them. 
What I really think: Since 2014, we have seen an uptick in the number of culturally related fantasy novels, which is great. Readers who enjoyed Perry's Cameron Battle, Brown's Serwa Boateng, Mbalia's Tristan Strong and Last Gate of the Emperor, will enjoy this one the most, but the African folklore and inclusion of Black history will also appeal to readers who like more academy based tales with cultural connections like Clayton's The Marvellers, Elle's A Taste Of Magic, Dumas' Wildseed Witch, Moore's Mapmaker, and  Okogwu's Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great review. I'm super excited to read this new book by Angie Thomas.