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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway: Marked by Laura Williams McCaffrey


by Laura Williams McCaffrey

Publisher: Clarion Books

Release Date: February 16th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Rating: 3


Sixteen-year-old Lyla lives in a bleak, controlling society where only the brightest and most favored students succeed. When she is caught buying cheats in an underground shadow market, she is tattooed—marked—as a criminal. Then she is offered redemption and she jumps at the chance . . . but it comes at a cost. Doing what is right means betraying the boy she has come to love, and, perhaps, losing even more than she thought possible. Graphic novel–style vignettes revealing the history of this world provide Lyla with guidance and clues to a possible way out of the double bind she finds herself in.

I received this book for free from Clarion Books via The Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

Marked is a different kind of dystopian book. In Marked, criminals are marked with tattoos when they commit even the smallest infractions. These marks all but leave the offenders as outcasts in this society. It is hard for them to find work even have a place to live with the marks so visible. There is a very political aspect to the story, but of course it is told in a very riveting way.

What I liked
The thing that I liked most about this book is the interesting premise. The very idea that criminals are marked with tattoos on their wrists the moment they are caught is so thought provoking. It brings into question the types of situations this can leave someone in, especially, as in Lyla's case, when the law that was broken was minor. The mark left her an outcast, and without many options as far as a career/work are concerned. 

I really like how vividly the author portrayed the treatment of the marked by the rest of society. Once Lyla is marked, everyone immediately starts treating her like less of a person. At work, her boss all but fires her. The rich people that are patrons where she works, the barons, laugh at her and treat her as if she is dirt. Her classmates at school stare and single her out. 

I very much loved the comic strips included in the book. In the story, Lyla is fond of reading short comic strips about a duo that fights against an unjust group. During the story, we also get the see these comic strips and they seems to vaguely correlate with the story in the book as well. It is a very interesting idea and I loved it!

The relationship between Lyla and her sister, Hope, was very touching. They were so very close and cared for one another immensely. 

I really loved how unpredictable the book was. Going into the book, you assume that Lyla will join with the rebels and revolt against their government. But, there is so much gray area in this book. I loved that Lyla was always true to herself regardless of the choices that she made. The government may be unjust, but the rebels may not exactly be the answer either. It is a good twist.

What I didn't like
There is so much unknown terminology thrown out at you at the beginning of the book that it seemed a little overwhelming. You have to keep reading without fully understanding things. As the story unfolds, the terminology becomes easier to follow, but there is quite a bit at the beginning that can leave a reader unsure.

The romance in the book was barely there. I liked how Lyla and Gill came together in the book. They were childhood friends that had not seen each other in years. Their coming together seemed too slow, and when they finally did come together it kind of petered out. I think that the author could have done so much more with their romance. It was so disappointing to me because they were so great together. 

I was also disappointed by the lack of Gill at the end of the book. I was expecting him to show up and save the day, or at least show up. But alas, he did not. 

The ending really threw me for a loop. I enjoyed the comic strip, but there was no sense of time. We know that Lyla and Gill meet after everything, but we don't know how long it has been or what occurred during that time. It was kind of disconcerting. On one hand, we get to see that they reunite. On the other hand, we don't know the important details that could make or break the reunion. 

Would I Recommend It
Yes. This book is very enjoyable and the premise is strong. Although the story is very engaging, there is also a backdrop of political issues. The pacing is great and the reader can relate to all of the characters easily.

Sneak peek — the first episode of Threatened Alchemyks, the serialized story Lyla reads in Marked. Illustrations by Sally Cantirino. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

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Follow the Marked by Laura Williams McCaffrey Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

I read, I write, I teach. I've published short stories in Cicada, YA Review Network, Solstice Literary Magazine, and Soundings Review. Clarion Books will release Marked, my YA dystopian fantasy, in February 2016. My other fantasy novels are WATER SHAPER and ALIA WAKING (both published by Clarion Books). For more information, it's best to visit my website: http://www.laurawilliamsmccaffrey.com


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