The Mark by Jen Nadol (January 19th 2010—Bloomsbury)
Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5
Summary: “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?”
Review: And since I am currently on an ice-skating binge I thought I would add some analogies from them. I expected a quad, got a triple…with a two-foot landing. Expected a wonderful performance, but instead received a meek substitution.
The Mark for me was less about the actual mark, but rather a somewhat coming-of-age story rather than this fantasy book. Cassie is basically trying to understand who she is and what her purpose is with The Mark. Throughout the book Cassie delivers several soliloquies (sorry reading Hamlet right now) that question if she should prevent death or accept it. In the book she does both that results in more questioning if she should continue the path. Both options have good and bad consequences. With such a heavy topic it’s no wonder that Nadol incorporates famous philosophers.
Okay first off I have to mention that I took a philosophy class last semester. Why? Because I wanted Calculus, but they gave me philosophy instead for some apparent reason! Anyhow…. A lot of the names mentioned, scenarios given, and possible answers I’ve already dealt with in class. Aristotle, Kant, and all that good stuff. For me I ended up skimming those scenes. I already knew the point and counterpoint arguments, but I believe that this was a highlight of the novel. Readers unfamiliar with these people will find the bantering interesting. I’m not sure if euphemism is specifically mentioned, but that’s one topic I felt really fits into this situation. That was one positive aspect of the book; a negative would have to be the romance.
The romance between Lucas and Cassie was so heavy and so fast that I felt brought the book so down. Even though it mentioned that they spent a few weeks together before “the thing” happened the readers can’t understand what Cassie is feeling. We get a few pages of her swooning and a sentence of how long they spent together.
The ending is bittersweet. While I do love the open-ended feel I also despise it. It felt incomplete.