The Mark

by Jen Nadol

Published: January 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 229
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781599904313

       

Overview of The Mark

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?

Synopsis of The Mark

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?

Publishers Weekly

Nadol debuts with a thoughtful exploration of fate and free will. Cassie is 16 when she realizes she can tell that a person will shortly die. She has seen an aura surrounding people for years, but its meaning is made certain when she follows a “marked” man and witnesses his demise. After she fails to prevent her grandmother’s death, she’s sent to live with an unknown aunt halfway across the country. Even there, she continues to see marked people and feels powerless to help them, until she sees the glow on her boyfriend, Lucas, and manages to avert his death. Lucas encourages Cassie to try to change others’ fates, but strangers are scared by her predictions, and she struggles with the ethical ramifications of her actions. Nadol’s story is more than a modern take on the Cassandra story of Greek myth, and the author uses her protagonist’s moral torment (and a philosophy course she takes) to touch on schools of philosophical thought, from Aristotle to Plato. As in life, there are no tidy endings, but the engrossing narration and realistic characters create a deep, lingering story. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)

About the Author, Jen Nadol

Jen Nadol grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, the hometown of John Updike, Taylor Swift, and the now-defunct Monopoly railroad. She has a BA in literature from American University and has lived in Washington DC, Boston, and New York City. She currently resides in a 150-year-old farmhouse in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and three young sons and is at work on her next two related novels. She has no paranormal abilities and is pretty happy about that.

www.jennadolbooks.com

Reviews of The Mark

There are no reviews yet. Perhaps you can add one!

Editorials

Children's Literature - Jennifer Waldrop

If you knew someone was going to die within twenty-four hours, would you tell them? That is a question that Cassandra Renfield, who has the ability to see death on a person in the form of an otherworldly glow, must answer. For as long as she can remember, she has seen the mark. Cassie does not know why she sees it or what to do about it, but when her Nan dies and she goes to live with her Aunt Drea, she begins to uncover family secrets. This is an unusual young adult novel in that the action is mostly internal. Cassie is not trying to solve a murder, there is no imminent danger. She is simply a girl with an unusual gift that presents her with difficult choices that she struggles with. Cassie's gift is unique, but her journey to discover who she is and where she came from is one that all teenagers can identify with. Reviewer: Jennifer Waldrop

VOYA - Amy Fiske

If you knew someone were going to die, would you tell them? If you had the power to change the outcome—would you try? These are just a few of the questions asked by author Nadol. Sixteen-year-old Cassie Renfield has always had a special power. She can see "the mark," a special light that forms around people when they are getting ready to die. She does not know how or why they are chosen—only that it will happen on that day. Cassie's parents died in a car accident when she was just a baby, and she lives with her grandmother Nan. One day the mark appears around her grandmother, and Cassie tries frantically to change her fate. After sharing her secret with her boyfriend Lucas, things start to unravel. At first he does not believe her and wants to see her theory of the mark tested. Cassie tries to find answers to her ability by searching her past. When she starts digging, what she finds changes the course of her life. Nadol does a fabulous job of hooking the reader right away. Although the story seems simple enough, she poses lots of serious questions about fate, death, and free will. Even though the ending of the book seems a bit contrived, most teen readers will thoroughly enjoy this read. Reviewer: Amy Fiske

Publishers Weekly

Nadol debuts with a thoughtful exploration of fate and free will. Cassie is 16 when she realizes she can tell that a person will shortly die. She has seen an aura surrounding people for years, but its meaning is made certain when she follows a “marked” man and witnesses his demise. After she fails to prevent her grandmother’s death, she’s sent to live with an unknown aunt halfway across the country. Even there, she continues to see marked people and feels powerless to help them, until she sees the glow on her boyfriend, Lucas, and manages to avert his death. Lucas encourages Cassie to try to change others’ fates, but strangers are scared by her predictions, and she struggles with the ethical ramifications of her actions. Nadol’s story is more than a modern take on the Cassandra story of Greek myth, and the author uses her protagonist’s moral torment (and a philosophy course she takes) to touch on schools of philosophical thought, from Aristotle to Plato. As in life, there are no tidy endings, but the engrossing narration and realistic characters create a deep, lingering story. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)

School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—Cassie Renfield, 16, can tell when people are about to die by the glow she sees surrounding them. "The mark" has always been part of her life, though it isn't until she sees it on her beloved grandmother that she begins to question whether she should try to prevent the deaths. When Nan dies, Cassie is sent to her father's hometown in Kansas to spend the summer with an aunt she has never met. There she begins a romance with Lucas, a handsome philosophy student whose life Cassie saves after the mark appears on him. Emboldened by this success, she agrees to his plea that she tell those with the mark about their impending deaths, although in her heart she isn't sure that fate should be changed. Nadol's debut novel is a compelling coming-of-age tale with a bright, likable narrator. Teens will identify with Cassie's uncertainty about her future and the challenges she faces in her first relationship. Although her ability borders on the supernatural, her dilemma and emotions feel genuine and believable thanks to Nadol's sensitive writing. Cassie's search for information about her parents is a natural response to returning to her father's hometown, although the subplot in which she stumbles upon a huge secret about her mother (thanks to someone she "coincidentally" meets early in the novel) seems contrived and feels hastily tacked on at the novel's end. Despite this, readers will eagerly follow Cassie's story and will hope for a sequel.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD

Kirkus Reviews

A compelling protagonist and a riveting premise search for a story, in a dark fantasy that reads like a Twilight Zone episode. Sixteen-year-old Cassie has always seen the "mark" around someone about to die, but has only recently realized its significance. After her beloved grandmother's death, Cassie is forced to spend the summer with a distant aunt, grappling with the implications of her "gift." She tumbles into a passionate affair with the handsome TA of her philosophy class, who has his own ideas about the responsibilities of such foreknowledge. Cassie is a thoughtful, sympathetic character whose struggles with her unpleasant power feel very real; her agonizing over confronting strangers with their imminent death is heartwrenching. The other characters, however, serve only to convey information and illustrate various ethical positions. As the coincidental revelations of long-concealed secrets pile up, the plot lurches into implausibility, with a conclusion frustratingly devoid of any resolution. Still, the ideas explored could inspire heated classroom debates, and philosophically inclined teens will find that the central question of "What happens now?" will linger long after the many plot holes are forgotten. (Horror. YA)

Available to Buy