Title: The Mark
Author: Jen Nadol
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publication Date: January 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
ISBN-10: 1599904314 (Bloomsbury USA)
ISBN-13: 978-1599904313 (Bloomsbury USA)
Cassandra Renfield has always seen the mark—a glow around certain people reminiscent of candlelight. But the one time she mentioned it, it was dismissed as a trick of the light. Until the day she watches a man awash in the mark die. After searching her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person’s imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.
Armed with a vague understanding of the light, Cassie begins to explore her “gift,” seeking those marked for death and probing the line between decision and destiny. Though she’s careful to hide her secret—even from her new philosophy-obsessed boyfriend—with each impending death comes the temptation to test fate. But so many questions remain. How does the mark work? Why is she the only one who sees it? And finally, the most important of all: If you know today is someone’s last, should you tell them?
Quick & Dirty: A well-written and thought-provoking tale that will have you intrigued.
Opening Sentence: There is nothing like the gut-hollowing experience of watching someone die, especially when you know it’s coming.
Cassie Renfield has the freakish ability to see The Mark, an aura surrounding someone indicating that they will soon die. To make matters worse, Cassie sees The Mark around her grandmother and is haunted by the fact that she wasn’t able to save her. When Cassie’s grandmother dies, she is forced to relocate and live with her estranged aunt, who only cares about her own life and career. Cassie begins to search for answers and her inner struggles drive the plot forward.
Cassie is immediately likable, and her situation is compelling. It’s interesting seeing Cassie grapple with trying to understand her ability and its ramifications. She struggles with the burden of choosing between trying to help people or letting fate run its course. There’s also an intriguing mystery surrounding the death of her parents. Less intriguing though is Cassie’s relationship with her romantic interest, Lucas. Although their relationship is characterized by manipulation and deception, it falls a little flat and I for one simply couldn’t get into that part of the story.
Some other parts of the otherwise compelling story fall a little flat. The ending in particular is a little anti-climatic. In fact, the story generally could use more action. If you’re hoping for a book driven by a solid romantic plotline, this isn’t it. While Cassie does have a relationship with Lucas, this story is more about Cassie’s self discovery. In addition, I felt that the secondary characters were a little lacking.
Overall, I did enjoy reading The Mark. While neither an action packed story nor an angst laden romantic melodrama, Ms. Nadol nonetheless pens a thought-provoking novel filled with grief, heartache, and isolation. It’s certainly unique and does an excellent job of showcasing the ambiguity surrounding fate. The psychological and philosophical themes of the novel were compelling and will certainly keep readers guessing.
As I walked home I kept replaying it. Blood and broken glass on the pavement. The wide, unseeing eyes of the man who had hit him and the cell phone spinning brokenly on the shiny asphalt. I didn’t know what was worse: what I had seen or what it meant.
FTC Advisory: Bloomsbury provided me with a copy of The Mark. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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