Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Mark, Jen Nadol

I actually won an ARC of this book, which makes me extremely squee-y. It also makes me want to write a good review! I am clearly doing very well with that objective, as evidenced by the inclusion of "squee-y" in my first sentence. Yay grammar and spelling!

Cassandra Renfield has been able to see the Mark on random people, usually strangers. As long as she can remember, a faint glow around passer-bys has been visible, but she's never thought much of it. It's just something she sees, and other people don't, but it hasn't come up enough for her to be worried about it. Her Nan doesn't seem worried either, so why should she? Then as the book opens, she has just realized what the Mark means. It means that the people glowing like that, are going to die soon- very soon. This is their last day alive.

And then THE question comes up. If you know that today is a person's last day alive, do you tell them?

The pacing of this book was not what I expected. I found I was able to predict what would happen next, but it didn't happen WHEN I expected. A lot of the book was not what I expected. I read the back and thought "Oh, a romance. Her new boyfriend is going to show her how to use her power to save lives, and then there'll be kissing!" Well yes, there was kissing, but it's not that simple. Nothing is really that simple. (The romance kinda freaked me out, to be honest. Isn't a 19 year old sleeping with a 16 year old, uh, statutory rape? I thought that's what it was in the US, at least?)

I really liked how the answers to Cassandra's dilemma had to be puzzled through, because it is a true dilemma. It's not that she just has a super power to save lives, it is revealed that what she chooses to do with her gift has consequences on other people's lives, beyond the person walking around with the Mark on them. (Think Greek myths, and the fact that traditionally, cheating death is frowned on by The Powers That Be.)

And right now, I have to mention a facet of the book that I loved. LOVED LOVED LOVED. Cassandra takes a philosophy course! *swoons* And it isn't just a token course, "Oh, Cassie's going to be late, her philosophy course is tonight." "Silly Cassie and her philosophy course, she's so smart." "She's really smart! She's taking philosophy, you know!" No, she actually TAKES philosophy, and it's PART OF THE PLOT.

There needs to be more YA featuring Plato. Nicomachean Ethics used in romance FTW! Let's argue Hume instead of making Hummus!


Right, back to the story. I really, really liked how Cassandra was a smart heroine. And that her intelligence was shown, not just told to me. (Though if I can have a moment, I was sad that she didn't read any Aquinas. What, we go straight from aristotle to Descarte? She even skipped the stoics!) [SPOILERS] However, I was frustrated by the rather post-modernistic answer she came to by the end of the book. There is no way to tell if what I do will be good, therefore do nothing? There's no way to tell, because you're ONLY ONE THIRD OF A TRIO. You need the other fates to know what to do! [/SPOILERS]

I gave it three stars out of five. And yes, I hope that a sequel will be written, so I can see more how she deals with this. (Oh! And Jen Nadol is going Release Party on her blog, where you can win swag and lovely free books! QUICK, you only have two more days!)

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