27 May 2010

Review: THE MARK by Jen Nadol ****

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?
I learned about this book a few months ago when bloggers started receiving ARCs and I was immediately fascinated by the premise - a girl who can tell that someone's going to day on that very day, will she tell them or not? Should she save their lives?
I've read mixed reviews about it so I worried that I might be disappointed, despite the promising concept - but luckily, I wasn't disappointed at all!

The story is narrated by Cassie, a 16-year-old girl who hasn't had an easy life at all. After losing her parents as a small child, Cassie was taken under the wing of her grandmother Nan. As time went by, Cassie often noticed this glow around people and it took her a while to realize that this means the person was about to die that day. She has a hard time coming to terms with this realization, especially when she sees it around her beloved Nan ...
I found the plot to be a bit slow at first, but the pace really picked up once Cassie met someone she really cared about and saved his life after seeing the mark on him. After that, he tried to persuade her that she has this gift and that she should use it to save others too. Unsure, Cassie tries her best, but sadly she's far from successful. On top of her first relationship falling apart, Cassie also uncovers the tragic story of what really happened to her parents and thus learns some shocking things about herself ...

The novel raises some thought-provoking (albeit very hypothetical) questions: If you knew someone was to die today, would you tell them and thus ruin their last day, or should you just let them go about their day unsuspecting? If you tell them, will they believe you? And even if they do, what if this results in something even more tragic? Is someone's life worth saving or is it really their time? How will small choices influence your life? Is it all predetermined or can things still be changed?
I thought the author explored all these dilemmas really well, not only through Cassie's eyes, but also with the help of various philosophical views on the subject and even with a dash of Greek mythology - I thought it was all quite fascinating, really.

For me, the book was mostly plot-driven, but I can't complain about the characters or the writing either. The latter flowed nicely - it wasn't spectacular or flowery or anything, but it was good enough and fitting.
I found the characters quite well developed too, especially Cassandra. I enjoyed her narrative and her sadness and panic was almost tangible. It's debatable whether seeing The Mark around people is a gift or a curse, but it certainly is a burden and I felt for her as he had to live with it and struggled to make some sense of it. I thought she really grew after having to cope with so much so suddenly and my only complaint was that the novel was too short - I'd love to read more about how Cassie coped with everything and what her life was like after she moved back home, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a sequel, that would be great!

overall rating:
plot: 5/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 3/5

10 comments:

ladystorm said...

See I know a lot of people who have really liked this book but when I tried to read it, it was just to slow paced for me. I got bored. Glad that you liked it though.

blueicegal said...

great honest review Astrid! i know Ive heard similar things about this one pretty much mixed thoughts like you, but seems cool, might give it a go :)

Faye said...

great review! i agree w/ the pace and But i haven't finished it yet. It in my comeback 2 pile lol :D

StephTheBookworm said...

I really liked this book.

Emidy said...

Oh, this sounds great! I love a plot-driven book once in a while, and The Mark sounds like it has an interesting storyline.

Lori said...

Awesome review! I really liked this book also! It reminded me a lot of The Society of S by Susan Hubbard(which I LOVE). I don't really know why...main the main characters were similar?

This Miss Loves to Read said...

This was a great review! The summary and your review convinced me to put this novel on my to-read list. And, I have to confess, I find the cover really pretty...;)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Awesome review. I like that you pointed out the things that didn't work for you. Happy weekend :)

Chas @ LLL in the 808 said...

Great review!=) I have this book on my shelf and hope to get to it soon!!=)

Book Lovers Delight said...

Nice review! I will definitely be reading it.

-Karina

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