Sunday, February 14, 2016

FFBC Book Review: Marked by Laura Williams McCaffrey

by Laura Williams McCaffrey
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: February 16th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Rate: 3 Keys to My Heart


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 feel it's best to start with the fact that dystopian stories rank very high up in my favorite genres. There's something about watching a broken society, and the strong characters that flourish within it, that makes me giddy. So I was excited to read Marked. Being swept up into another new world seemed like just the ticket, and I had high hopes for the journey.

Now, that being said, I was a little less than impressed with the world building. Lyla's world is pretty well hashed out, once you get through the first few chapters of the book. McCaffrey shows a place where school, and studying hard, is the way that you get yourself out of the gutter and into the higher planes of society. That piece, along with the idea of of being marked, made sense to me. I understood Lyla's feelings and the motivation behind her decisions. What I didn't understand, and really missed, was how this world ended up this way in the first place. There's not a lot of backstory present, and I would have loved to see more.

As for Lyla and her fellow characters, they kind of fell into the same issue. Lyla, as our protagonist, was the most fleshed out character. Although I didn't always agree with her decisions, I at least understood why she would have made them. Her personality spoke to me, and it was easy to see that she was a product of her environment. The rest of the characters, however, didn't get the same treatment. I would have really enjoyed learning more about them. Part of the reason I liked Lyla was because I understood her. If I had that same connection with the rest of the cast, it would have been an amazing read.

Coupled with an ending that didn't quite wrap things up, you can see why I placed this book at a 3 star rating. Marked has a lot to love about it. It's dystopian in an interesting way, Lyla is a believable and likable character, and there's enough action to keep things flowing at a constant pace. If only there was a bit more background on the setting and the rest of the cast of characters, it would have been perfect. What I'm hoping is that this is just scratching the surface, and there is more to come! A girl can dream.

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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:

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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