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The Mark by Jen Nadol

The Mark

by Jen Nadol

Series: The Mark (1)

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2112183,263 (3.55)12



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THE MARK is an interesting look at death and loss and raises some interesting questions about destiny versus choice, but it was not at all what I had expected when I picked up the novel. I had been expecting another supernatural YA with a romantic plot line that would leave me yearning for love, but that is not at all what I got from THE MARK. Though I truly did enjoy the novel, once I gave up on the vision of the book that I thought it was, I think it was marketed as something that it was not.

That said, there were some aspects of the novel that I loved and some that simply didn't hold my interest. I really enjoyed the philosophical debate that THE MARK fostered. If you had this terrible power, what would be the right way to use it. Should you warn people and try to save them? Or is it simply their time and you should let nature run its course? I felt like this aspect of the book was the strongest.

I didn't really like the romantic plot line. The boy that Cassie is with throughout most of the novel I found to be boring and pretentious. I did not see any chemistry between the two characters and I really wanted him out of the picture. Plus, I felt like Cassie couldn't really be herself around him, which made their relationship uncomfortable for me. There is another boy, who is only mentioned briefly, that I would have loved to see more of. I think the novel maybe was supposed to come across this way in the romance department, but it really didn't click for me.

Most of the novel really didn't seem very "supernatural" to me, so that was a bit of a letdown at first. However, near the end the novel, there is some mythology interwoven and the mystery of Cassie parents deepens as more details are uncovered - this is when I really started to get into the plot. I just wish some of this action would have happened earlier in the novel. ( )
  thehidingspot | Mar 31, 2012 |
‘The Mark’ was truly an invigorating novel about making choices when faced with a seemingly impossible situation. Cassie Renfield already lost both her parents long ago and was living with her grandmother. She was born with a terrifying gift of seeing a glow (‘The Mark’) around people before they die. She was faced with the choice many times on whether to tell them or not. Would you?

I was absorbed in this book from the first page. This idea of seeing The Mark was so interesting and I could not wait to see where it lead our protagonist. All she wanted to do was have a normal teenage existence that would never be a choice for her because of this curse. She was burdened by her gift and the only person who believed her was about to become exposed to her terrifying world as well. Without giving too many spoilers, Cassie spent the summer away from her home and tried to start anew when she found a young man that understood her grown-up intellect. But when he was exposed to her secret the views of both of them related to each other changed drastically.

This novel took me to places I never expected and I was glad for it. Since I read so much I can usually tell the ending before halfway through but not in this case. There were many new directions the book pulled me in from chapter to chapter, I just went along for the ride and stopped trying to guess. By the end of the book I felt like Cassie aged about ten years with all the growing up she did over one summer. She was thrust into adult life by making very hard decisions and accepting those decisions that were made for her. This was a great character-development story that will stick in my mind for a long time.

I really enjoyed the characters in this story and how real they were. With Luke and Cassie it was a perfect relationship until her gift was exposed and she had to deal with her philosophical-obsessed boyfriend. Although he may have treated her different, he forced her to explore her gift and it took her places she might not have had the courage to explore before.

I was interested in the reaction of those that Cassie told about seeing The Mark and how they did or did not change their fate based on the knowledge. This was one of the toughest things to think about when the book was finished. There are two choices to make, to tell, or not to tell, but each yields many consequences. Then there is one theory that if you save someone’s life, does another person take their place in death? Cassie had to battle her conscious every time she saw The Mark, but neither choice she made could ever be the right one.

I higly recommend this thought-provoking novel and I guarantee that the story will linger in your mind long after the last word is read. ( )
  sithereandread | Jun 3, 2011 |
I had been hearing a lot of good stuff about The Mark, a debut by Jen Nadol, and I was intrigued by the premise which, though gaining in popularity and starting to crop up everywhere, was a bit fresher at the time. I have to say, overall I enjoyed it, but I do have some reservations.

It took me awhile to get into the story the way I wanted to. It was never that I disliked it, because I didn't, but it took me quite awhile to feel invested in Cassie and her story. It just felt a little soft to me. I don't know if that will make sense to you, but it's a book about death, essentially, and everything was just a bit too rose-colored for me. There was a disconnect, and as I was reading, I felt like, okay, that's nice...but forgettable, essentially, and it took me about 1/2 of the book to feel invested and start caring.

I think what brought me around was that at one point, the book becomes very philosophical (the result of Cassie taking a summer philosophy course and beginning to question her ability and its implications). I read one review where the reader didn't like that the book sort of rotated on this, and became more a coming of age book, all about self-discovery rather than the paranormal romance she thought she was going to be reading. I get that, but for me, it was the questions that made it. Nadol was able to depict that endless cycling of ifs and buts that would come from trying to work your way through this type of ability. Cassie came alive for me in this, because I thought her reactions and thought processes felt very authentic. She was realistic and hesitant and very, very cautious, which played well off of Lucas' self-righteousness and easy morality. This finally allowed me to connect to Cassie, and changed my opinion of the book enough so that I felt it actually was a pretty successful book in the end. Except --

Except for the end. Well, not the very end, but near to. Without giving anything away, up until that point, Cassie's ability and its origins was fairly ambiguous, and I enjoyed that. I'm all for willing suspension of disbelief, and I don't feel everything has to be explained or clear so long as it works. If Cassie doesn't know, we don't know, and that makes sense. But then right at the end, there was something thrown in that sort of changed the whole thing for me, and I am not sure how I feel about it. I don't know if this is going to be a stand-alone book (I would respect it more, honestly, if it was), but because of the element introduced at the end and a few loose ends, I have a feeling there is more coming. If said element was to lay groundwork for a series, it felt a little sloppy to me, and a little silly, if I'm being honest. After all of the well-thought philosophy, it really disappointed me because it felt like a ploy. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but it is what it is, and it knocked back my opinion of the book again. Not enough to outweigh that I did enjoy it. But between the beginning where I didn't care, and the end where I felt a bit cheated and irritated, I feel like I only got about 1/3 of a solid story that I care about. It was a good 1/3, and I would recommend this*, but it bears mentioning.

So, all in all, a solid debut with some downsides, but still likely to win over teens and not-so-teens.

*I know, I know. You're thinking, why did you have to tell me all of these negatives just to say, But you should still read it... Why do I do this? Because I can.
^_^ ( )
  BookRatMisty | Mar 20, 2011 |
i being thinking of what to put and find 3 words tell u about this booksadsadsadand god if i where that girl i would have die of sadness my boyfriend would only use me to tell ppl this is there last day if i where her i would tell him"dude go to hell u loser i save ur life i still got brad pitt lol" ( )
  klolovebooks | Oct 15, 2010 |
Reviewed by Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen for TeensReadToo.com

Cassie has seen the mark on people all her life. When a person has the mark around them, they are about to die. Cassie doesn't know how or why or where, but she knows with the mark, it will happen today.

Cassie tries to escape her "gift" and avoid people. But when she takes a philosophy course and befriends her TA, Cassie has to share her secret. If you knew today was someone's last - would you tell them?

I started reading THE MARK thinking it was a paranormal book, which in some ways it ways. Cassie's ability and seeing the mark has a paranormal feel to it. But THE MARK is not a paranormal book. Instead it takes a paranormal ability to explore philosophy and try to find answers to Cassie's dilemma. Should she tell someone they are about to die? Does she have a responsibility to share what she knows? Can she save someone or is it okay to keep it to herself?

This is a quiet, slow book, but it's still an interesting read. I never found myself bored and I actually liked the philosophy twist on the paranormal. There's also a secondary plot about Cassie discovering information about her family, which I thought was somewhat predictable, but still interesting. There's a paranormal twist at the end that after a pretty non-paranormal book felt out of place. But if you go in expecting a more contemporary storyline that raises great questions about life and if we have a responsibility to help, I think readers will be satisfied.

THE MARK could make a great book group read and could lead to a great discussion on philosophy, especially since the book never feels heavy or bogged down in semantics. I think THE MARK also has great adult appeal, so give this one to older teens and adults who enjoy YA. ( )
  GeniusJen | Aug 18, 2010 |
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While in Kansas living with an aunt she never knew existed and taking a course in philosophy, sixteen-year-old Cass struggles to learn what, if anything, she should do with her ability to see people marked to die within a day's time.

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