Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books
On Sale Date: January 19, 2010
Hardcover, 228 pages
Summary from book: Cassandra Renfield has always seen the mark - a glow around certain people reminiscent of candlelight. But the one time she mentioned it to someone else, the mark was dismissed as a trick of the light. Cassie starts to reconsider its rare occurrences insignificant - until the day she watches a man 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 is 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?
The Mark was a different book than I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a strict fantasy novel, but it turned out to be a combination of many things. Jen Nadol combined mystery with philosophy and Greek mythology. This combination was a pleasant surprise, making The Mark a unique and memorable book. I found myself thing about The Mark days after finishing it, wanting to know more about the particular mythological stories and philosophical arguments Jen Nadol included in The Mark.
Cassie as the main character was well thought out, I felt sympathetic towards her from the beginning. She loses her grandmother, the only family she knows of, only to learn that she has an aunt. Then Cassie must leave her home to live with her aunt for three months. Once in Kansas, it turns out her Aunt Drea isn’t really a good guardian, leaving Cassie on her own. They have more of a roommate relationship, until close to the end of the book. It has to be this way so that Cassie is independent enough to venture out into her surroundings and also advance the plot. It still would have been nice to see more of a connection between Cassie and her aunt, given that Cassie learns some truths about her family that her grandmother had hidden from her. Drea could have been more helpful towards Cassie during her search for answers.
Due to her freedom, Cassie ends up finding a job, taking a philosophy class at the local university and then dating her TA. Lucas is the model of a devoted boyfriend until he learns about Cassie’s gift. Then, he looks at Cassie as a philosophical conundrum that needs to be solved. He uses what Cassie is learning in class to argue that she has the responsibility to tell the people with the mark that they will die. Cassie is torn on what she should do and the longer she argues with Lucas, the more he pulls away. I wanted to like Lucas. I felt that he could have been the one person truly supportive person in Cassie’s life. Then I had to remind myself that he was only 19, and probably not emotionally ready to be there for Cassie in the way she needed him to be. In the end, however, I was glad when their relationship ended.
While, I felt Cassie was well written, many of the supporting characters felt incomplete. Cassie’s friends pretty much disappeared once she moved to Kansas. I forgot about them, until she runs into Jack (a childhood friend and possible love interest) in Wichita. Then the psychologist Cassie meets on the plane trip to Kansas ends up being the person to help her find answers to the questions she has about her mother. This felt too convenient. If Cassie had remembered Petra and then called her for help, I would have been more willing to believe that Petra was really the only who could help Cassie.
I am not sure if The Mark will be part of a series, but the end seemed unfinished. It felt as though there was more to Cassie’s story. At the end, I still had a lot of questions. What will Cassie do with what she learned about her family? Will she find a way to use the mark to help others? Having questions is not a bad thing. Sometimes, I feel spoiled by all the series I’m reading because when one book ends there is more to look forward to. Not every book has to be part of a series, but I wish the ending of The Mark felt more complete. Overall, I recommend this book to philosophy and Greek mythology lovers.
You can read an excerpt from The Mark on Jen Nadol's Website