When fourteen-year-old Yarrow wakes to find a new tattoo on his neck, he knows what it means: that he's Marked. He's one of an exclusive entity of men and women that exist in a class apart. With special abilities and opportunities, Yarrow anticipates a life of study and peace - except that something is clearly wrong. Marked children are disappearing and Yarrow must know why.
I don't know why I'm surprised by how much I liked this. I really did. This is some amazing world building - the "gifts" that the Marked are given are a great twist on the old formula and the characterization is deep and believable. I love the martial arts feel of the entire book, especially the juxtaposition of the smooth and rooted T'ai chi type of warrior and the fast and furious weapons-master fighter. There were enough twists and surprises, the pacing felt mostly right. Sometimes the dialogue dripped into a formality that jarred me, but that felt more like an editing oversight than a story problem and this story, with its mystery and relationship-building and Asian ambiance hit the spot for me. I appreciated the diversity (of all kinds and across the board) and the surprisingly deep insights into what loving someone really means and the absolute worth of a soul. Fine piece of work for a first time author.
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