on February 22, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Speculative, Thriller
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A legendary artifact. A skeptical scientist. Will her Old Testament discovery cure the planet…or destroy it?
Archeologist Nichole “Nikki” Strauss dreams of ending global hunger. Romantically attached to a world-leading geneticist in San Francisco, she shares his excitement for his new GMO superseed that can grow crops resistant to environmental hazards. But when an ex-flame shows up with news of a mutual friend’s suspicious death, her grief-filled resolve drives her to join forces with him to uncover the reason behind the murder.
Traveling to Europe and learning her dead colleague had recovered the fabled golden manna jar, Nikki finds herself the target of a shadowy ancient sect. And when a fatal flaw in her boyfriend’s genetic design makes the Biblical relic his only desperate solution, she faces a choice between true love, devotion, and the fate of the world.
Can Nikki save the Earth from an unexpected apocalypse?
Manna Reign is the unforgettable first book in the Treasures of the Ark thriller series. If you like feisty heroines, prophetic tension, and undercurrents of romance, then you’ll adore Dineen Miller’s intricate tale.
Manna Reign is one of those books where the pieces fit together a little too nicely, the characters are little too flat, and the plot twists a little too predictable. It’s not a terrible book, but neither is it stunning. It’s a book I could see as a Hollywood thriller. Change some characters around and alter the plotline and you’ve got an Indiana Jones movie. All the pieces for a top-notch thriller are there, but ultimately the execution keeps it from the level it could have been. It’s a solid story, but I think it could have been so much more.
Manna Reign follows archaeologist Nikki Strauss and her attempt to help an ex-boyfriend named Jerad solve the mystery of a mutual friend’s murder. The friend was looking into evidence that a sacred artifact—the jar of manna from the Ark of the Covenant—had been uncovered. It’s possible that the jar could have the regenerative power to end hunger as we know it. But that’s a power worth killing for. Meanwhile, an ancient that has long guarded the secrets of the Ark will go to extreme lengths to make sure the jar stays hidden.
Meanwhile, Nikki’s current boyfriend, a world-famous geneticist, has been attempting to create a GMO super-seed that would end world hunger. When things go wrong, he comes to believe the power of the jar of manna will be his only hope.
You can see how the story plays out. There’s an Ancient Artifact that’s (not very well) protected by a Shadowy Organization and various groups all want their hands on its power. Obviously, Nikki has to make the decision to side with her ex over her current love—which seems to be a relationship of convenience as Nikki’s dad is a very powerful person.
The one thing the Dineen Miller never does to my satisfaction is explain both the magic and the science of the story. Soren’s genetic experiment is a success, but suddenly he makes a last-second tweak that causes any field the seed is planted in to immediately become permanently fallow. How? And then the farmers, recognizing this, choose to die by suicide en masse as they realize their ground is no longer usable. Why? And how do they know the fields are permanently unusable? Why wouldn’t they attempt to solve the problem first? Wouldn’t having the people die of starvation be a much more compelling (and believable) plot line?
It’s questions like these that took me out of the story. At the beginning of Manna Reign, Ranjit (the friend who ends up dead) is willingly given the jar of manna. Where are the protectors then? The whole system around which the plot is constructed just didn’t come across as coherent or believable. Movies do this all the time. You have to suspend disbelief. It’s easier to do in a movie because it’s a passive mode of entertainment. Reading is active. It’s harder to trick a reader into not thinking about a poorly constructed plot point. And so while I liked the action, the internal structure of the novel just wasn’t strong enough to keep me pulled in. Miller kept the pages turning, but the more I considered the book after reading it, the less I found that it all cohered. If you specifically want an Indiana Jones type story, then try this one out. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but it might be yours.