Apr 29, 2010

The Mark by Jen Nadol

If you have the ability to know someone is going to die within 24 hours, do you have to help? When sixteen-year-old Cassie finally pieces together that the fuzzy, light glow around people is the mark of death, she doesn't really know what to do about it. She lives in fear of it because she feels powerless to stop it. Orphaned as a toddler, she has lived in rural Pennsylvania her whole life with Nan, her maternal grandmother. While Cassie's had a fairly normal childhood, her easy going time is cut short when one day she sees the mark on Nan. Nan has always believed Cassie about the mark and decides to accept her fate.

After Nan's death, Cassie learns that in order to obtain the large sum that Nan has stored for her, she must go back to Bering, Kansas (where she was born and her parents died) and live with her estranged aunt for 90 days. This is obviously a total shock to Cassie. She's got her friend Tasha and the ever-present and gorgeous Jack to keep her company, why should she go somewhere she's never been, to live with a woman she's never met, just to satisfy some legal mumbo-jumbo? Either way, Cassie decides to look at it as an opportunity and goes ahead.

Bering, Kansas is a college town and Cassie quickly finds things to occupy her time. She obtains a job at the local coffee nook Cuppa, takes a Philosophy 101 class as an audit student, and fills her extra hours with Lucas, the TA from her class. As the summer continues on, Cassie starts to see more and more marks. At Lucas's prodding she tries to warm some of them, with varying results. Confused, hurt, and very lost, Cassie stumbles upon a bit of truth that changes her whole outlook and her future.

This was an interesting book. It reminded me of Numbers by Rachel Ward, only Cassie didn't have to see everyone's death date. Cassie just had to know that there was only one chance to let them know that they wouldn't survive the day. It posed an fascinating dilemma that I found myself debating, about the responsibility of this power. In general I found Cassie to be a mostly likable character, although she seemed a bit childish at times. I really found that she grew on me as her character developed and she stood on her own in Kansas.

The guys in the novel were a little too pushy for my tastes and very obviously macho, but you never really get to know them. I kind of would have liked to see more of the personal side of Lucas and Cassie's relationship. We kind of just got to know them as almost anyone who ever saw them would have. It would have been preferable to see them in a more intimate manner (growing up stories, family stories, really describing a daily scene, etc).

The story really didn't seem to be going much of anywhere, at least no where visible, until Cassie went to Kansas. I really think her time spent there was what made up my mind to like the book as a whole. She was so out of her element and on her own that it really made me appreciate what was going on more. It's not too fast and not too slow, really a short read. Take a chance on it!


Bookalicious Ramblings said...

I just finished this the other day and quite liked it too!

YA Vampire Books said...

Nice interview! I'm curious about this book!