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The Merlin Prophecy    by Meg Cabot & Jinky Coronado order for
Merlin Prophecy
by Meg Cabot
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The continuation of Meg Cabot's popular young adult novel, Avalon High, has taken on a different form. Avalon High Coronation, illustrated by Jinky Coronado is being touted as Meg Cabot's first manga series. The first volume, The Merlin Prophecy, starts off with a recap of everything that happened in Avalon High, not necessarily in chronological order. At the end, thinks were looking up for Ellie Harrison, if not so much for her boyfriend Will Wagner.

As the manga sequel opens, Ellie has just been announced as one of Avalon's homecoming queen nominees. Ellie is not too thrilled that her track teammates nominated her, but goes along with it good-spiritedly and even allows Jennifer (Will's ex and another nominee) to drag her out shopping. Little does she know that the third nominee Morgan is also at the mall and overhears Ellie's conversation with Will's mom trying to patch up his family situation. Furious that Ellie got her boyfriend Marco into an asylum, Morgan vows to wreck Ellie's happiness. On top of all this, Ellie learns from her teacher, Mr. Morton, a member of The Order of the Bear, that Will must accept his place as king by homecoming in order to restore the peace of King Arthur's reign, and that it is her job as the Lady of the Lake to help make it happen. The Merlin Prophecy ends with a cliff-hanger that will leave readers itching for the next volume of Avalon High Coronation.

The Merlin Prophecy has the beginnings of a solid and intense story line that will no doubt continue through the series. Its characters are likeable and reachable, and readers will relate to their real-life problems (the fantasy elements are fun, but not quite so easy to relate to). Coronado's illustrations are just as solid and well thought-out as Cabot's story. However, this is where the one problem lies. Though being called manga, this really is an American graphic novel. I am a huge fan of Original English Language manga, so I am not just saying this because it is not from Japan. The artwork and layout is what makes it not a manga. The characters are drawn with the same proportion and muscle-definition found in any mainstream America comic and the narration is written and drawn in a style that is never found in manga but is in American work.

This might disappoint those picking up Avalon High Coronation, expecting a manga. This is a shame because The Merlin Prophecy is a fun and compelling teen read. Luckily, it will not be a problem for non-manga readers who will pick up Avalon High Coronation because they are fans of Meg Cabot, or for those of us who just enjoy a good novel, graphic or not.

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