cover image The Mark

The Mark

Jen Nadol. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (228pp) ISBN 978-1-59990-431-3

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.)