Jen Nadol’s young adult debut novel has a cool, beguiling premise that pulls the reader in and illustrates what thinking outside the box can produce. Though Nadol’s story is a bit perplexing at times with the juxtaposition of past and present scenes, it eventually pulls together. The Mark is a thought-provoking, well-written, haunting tale featuring a delightful protagonist with a remarkable gift.
Cassandra Renfield surmises that the shimmering mark she sees on certain individuals is more than a phosphorescent light show. When she witnesses a marked man get run down by a vehicle she fully comprehends what it all means. Cassie knows when someone is going to die. Cassie is on a quest to delve into the lives of those marked for death to better discern her “gift.” Cassie is cautious about sharing her newfound talent and even withholds it from her new boyfriend. With each untimely death Cassie is faced with more questions than answers. Is it a blessing to know when it is someone’s last day on earth — or is it a curse? Cassie also wonders why she is the only one to see the mark. Most of all, the blood chilling, gut-wrenching raw pain she feels when she sees it on someone she loves is unbearable. As she struggles with the inner turmoil of knowing, she wonders whether telling someone they are about to die is part of her gift.
The Mark would have benefited from more action, pow and snap but this was the foundation builder, and the twist at the end demonstrates Nadol knew what she was doing from the start. I wish Bloomsbury would have kept the original cover for the mass market edition instead of the yawn-inducing bargain bin looking one. Nadol's series deserves better. Listening Bloomsbury?
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