Saturday, November 21, 2009
The Manhattan Prophet by Jake Packard
The world of The Manhattan Prophet is disquieting. It is set in New York City after a nuclear bomb has been detonated there by terrorists, destroying American life as we know it. Thousands of poor and sick have been herded into Central Park, now known as Shantypark, where they live lives of desperation, forced to remain there by the police. The police have become para-military and have taken control of most areas of civilization. Their leader has no intention of giving that control up, and will use whatever force is necessary to retain his power. News organizations have been pared down to a few government-sanctioned ones, and the only information going out is thoroughly vetted.
Into this environment Salem Jones emerges. The child of parents who are criminals and both imprisoned, Salem has grown up in prison, and is now being released, having reached adulthood. Even though he has been in a prison environment, stories of his effect on others has reached the outside. He has turned prisoners into nonviolent men, and created sanity and peace in the prison. The story of his emergence is eagerly waited worldwide, as everyone wants to know more about this man.
Maria Primera is the reporter chosen to tell Salem's story. She is assisted by her cameraman, Herbie, the child of hippie parents who raised him to believe in everything and nothing. On the day of Salem's emergence, he manages to evade all the media and crowds. The police want to control him; millions just want to see him. Salem moves to Shantypark and starts to spread his message of hope there. He performs miracles, healing terminal patients and unarming men bent on violence. Maria is caught up in his story, and both are caught up in the turmoil caused by those wanting to be free and those determined to keep control.
This book is recommended for readers who enjoy urban fantasy. Readers should be aware that there is an abundance of violence and adult language in the book.