Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Mark by Jen Nadol

Cassie has seen aura's around some people for as long as she can remember. As a young teen, she once followed one of those people only to see him hit by a car and die. This was the first time she suspected that the aura meant the person would die within the next 24 hours. She is being raised by her grandmother, her parents long dead. Nan doesn't comment on Cassie's experiences. The aura appears around Nan who dies. Cassie is unexpectedly sent to live with an aunt (her father's sister) who she barely knows exists as part of her grandmother's will. While there she discovers much about her parents that she never knew, her grandmother being very closed mouth about the past. For instance, her mother did not die in a car accident along with her father but rather four years later in a mental institute, a suicide. A chance meeting of a doctor who works at the mental institute gives Cassie access to her mother's records from which she finds out that she possessed the same ability Cassie has. The ability is connected to stories about Greek muses but this is only lightly touched upon. Cassie also audits a class in philosophy while she is staying with her aunt. Here she begins to consider various uses for her ability, even experimenting a bit with rather mixed results. If I think about it too much, well I suppose the book is a bit contrived. Everything is neatly set up to make the story work from the chance meeting of the Psychiatrist on the plane to Cassie's being able to sign up for a college class without any difficulty even though she still has a couple of years of high school left and other events as well. But, I enjoyed the read, I enjoyed the ethics discussion a lot and the hints at Greek mythology may just send me to further reading. The ending, I didn't quite get where Cassie is staying while she finishes high school, where her money is coming from, if she just dumped what little relationship she had with her only known living relative, where she might be heading with her life. I think that's just a bit too up in the air. JDW 7/20

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