by Jen Nadol
Cover Artist: Photo: Jim Corwin / Getty Images
Review by Ellen Russell
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781599904313
Date: 19 January 2010 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Jen Nadol's novel, The Mark, is an original study of paranormal abilities and their implications. The Mark follows the story of Cassandra, a sixteen-year-old girl who discovers that she is able to tell when it is someone's last day on earth. She sees a glowing aura around people who will soon die. Cassie has lived with her grandmother, Nan, since her parents died in a car crash when she was two. Cassie tries to come to grips with her powers with Nan's support and understanding, but when she sees the glowing aura around her Nan and is unable to save her, Cassie truly begins to wonder why she has been given this power and what she is supposed to do with it.
After Nan dies, Cassie is sent to live with her father's sister, an aunt she has never known, in the city where she was born, and where her parents died. Her search for answers leads her to take a philosophy course at the local university. During the course of the summer semester, she falls in love with her TA, a young and contemplative student who, once Cassie proves that her gift is real, has very definite ideas about how she should use it. In order to find her own answers, Cassie must find out the truth of what happened to her parents and the secret that her Nan had kept from her since childhood.
An excellent read for young adults. The characters are believable, the plot is fast-moving and engaging, and surprise twists keep the reader guessing. The ending is enigmatic enough that it leaves room for a sequel; however, it also allows the reader to draw her own conclusions.
The Mark puts forth interesting questions about paranormal abilities and the responsibility of the possessor of such powers. It also manages to remain a light, fun read, which will engage the interest of any young fantasy enthusiast.