Book Review: The Mark

The Mark
By: Jen Nadol
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA, January 2010
Source: Library

Have you ever wished for a super power? What if the power was one that was more of a curse than a gift?

These are the tough questions that Cassie Renfield must ask herself. She has the power to see death before it strikes. The mark as she calls it is a shimmering light that cloaks on person on the day of their death. Cassie has always seen this mark, but doesn’t realize exactly what it means until her teen years when a man on the bus has the mark. She follows him and watches his death. Her worst fears are confirmed before her eyes. Should she use her gift to warn people of their fate? Can she prevent their deaths and if she does what are the consequences?
I originally wasn’t sure if I would like this book. It seemed like just another in a long stream of paranormal young adult novels hitting the bookshelves in recent months. However, Jen Nadol’s writing style and characters sucked me into Cassie’s world. The settings of small town life in Pennsylvania and Kansas are beautifully described. Cassie’s gift leads her on a quest to find out who she really is and where the mark comes from. I found this to be the most exciting part of the book for me – I wanted to know about her family history. I also loved how Nadol ties in Greek mythology. That was something I didn’t see coming, but I loved how she wove it into the story.

I also felt like Nadol had a firm grasp on the teenage experience. That time of life is often hard for many. I can’t even imagine taking all of those issues and having to deal with seeing death all around me on top of it. I think Cassie’s responses to the obstacles in her life is realistic, however, others I have talked to disagree with some of the choices she makes. What do you think? Does Cassie make the typical choices of a teen in her situation?

I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in 2011! This gives plenty of others time to fall in love with Cassie’s story before the next part arrives.

Summary from author’s website (You can also read an excerpt!):

Sixteen-year old Cassie Renfield has seen the mark since forever: a glow around certain people as if a candle were held behind their back.

The one time she pointed it out taught her not to do it again, so Cassie has kept quiet, considering its rare appearances odd, but insignificant. Until the day she watches a man die. Mining her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person’s imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.
Cassie searches her past, her philosophy lessons, even her new boyfriend for answers, always careful to hide her secret. 

How does the mark work? Why her?

Most importantly, if you know today is someone’s last, should you tell?