The Xeno Manifesto and The Xeno Manifesto: Reclamation (the second book in the trilogy) deliver everything that is magnificent about the science fiction genre. We have the Tsiatko, a group of creatures related to the Bigfoot myth. We have funky Earthly spectacles like lava tubes. We encounter Handlers, a group who re-establish planets but it’s to save them, not take them over. We have weather modifying technologies, Roswell references, DNA anomalies, and Alien Neanderthal Cloning, all of which makes for entertaining reading.
Regina-based writer Brysen Mann does a phenomenal job of crafting characters that readers care about. Take Frank Smirnov, the main character in the books. Mann spends chapters covering Smirnov’s childhood and some of his adult years up to the present day (Smirnov is almost sixty.) So much backstory is usually irksome but in this case, we need it to fully understand Smirnov. Kudos to Mann for pulling off the perfect balance with the history lesson.
The Orb, a sphere-shaped device that contains all the data regarding a takeover of the Earth, features heavily in The Xeno Manifesto. When Smirnov and Zach, an NSA agent, spend four days learning everything the Orb knows, it is mind-blowing to them as well as us readers. With that, the first book in the trilogy ends, leaving us with the assertion that there is still hope for mankind in a world believed to be doomed.
Reclamation takes off where the first book ended, with Smirnov and Zach dealing with the leader of the Tsiatko group. Handlers return to the story disguised as humans despite being thousands of years old. Minor characters in the first book play a bigger role in the second, fleshing out the plot so we get deeper into Mann’s creative world. Smirnov’s role is vital in the context of Earth’s survival but I won’t ruin the story for you with spoilers.
Women rise to the forefront as the Handlers continue their quest to save the Earth. Reclamation ends as we are introduced to Tardigrades, an alien life form that can survive anything. I can’t help but wonder if the creatures will play a pivotal role in the last book of the trilogy as Smirnov’s story continues in The Xeno Manifesto – Redemption.
On a personal note, I want to give a shout-out to Mann for reminding me how awesome science fiction can be. I was a huge X-Files fan in the 90s and a lover of Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi tales in the early 2000s. I feel like I’ve come full circle again thanks to The Xeno Manifesto series.
I can’t wait to dig into The Xeno Manifesto – Redemption. I have no doubt that the conclusion will be as unforgettable as the journey through the first two books has been.
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