February 12, 2016

Marked Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for MARKED! I have my review of the book to share with you today - and don't forget to enter the giveaway! To follow the rest of the tour, click on the banner above.

Author: Laura Williams McCaffrey
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopia
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Clarion Books
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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. 
Marked is an exciting young adult dystopian novel that demonstrates how doing the right thing isn't always easy - and might cost more than anyone imagined. Our main character, Lyla, gets caught stealing in an underground market - which leads to her getting tattooed, or marked, as a criminal. The mark makes Lyla an outcast in society and everyone looks down on her because of it. When a miraculous sounding way out is offered to Lyla, she jumps at the chance to be wiped clean. What she doesn't know is that her redemption comes at a steep cost - she'll have to betray the one guy she's loved and possibly losing even more than that. What choice will Lyla make? Will she refuse the offer and stay marked in order to keep the things she holds dear - or will she take the offer and turn her back on some of the most important things in her life?

This was a really unique and original book that I enjoyed reading. One major thing that stands out in the story is the author's use of little graphic novel-style tales to showcase the history of Lyla's world as well as giving her clues to getting out of her seemingly helpless situation. I've never come across a book that mixed in several small comics with the narrative. It was refreshing and a nice change of pace. I think the comics gave the story an extra depth that wouldn't have been possible otherwise - and it really gives the book a fascinating twist. I loved learning about the history of Lyla's world along with seeing some possible escapes and clues from her predicament via the comics. The novel would have been a great story alone, but the addition of the graphic novel-style stories take it to a whole new level and sets it apart from the rest. It's this aspect of the book that made all the difference to me - from being a good book to becoming a great one. Everything else about the novel is well done - the characters are well rounded, the world-building is detailed and descriptive - which made it easy to slip inside Layla's world alongside her from early on in the story, the plot is intriguing and exciting, and the writing style is solid and gripping. One small thing that I wished was different was the point of view the author used. The story is told from the third person POV, which is fine and works well with the book. However, I'm a huge fan of the first person POV because of the deep connection the reader can establish with the narrator. This is just my personal quirk and the third person writing style didn't effect my reading experience at all. Overall, this was an exciting and compelling novel that sets itself far apart from others in the genre - and is a welcome breath of fresh air. Highly recommended!

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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