Release Date: 04/03/12
(Thanks to ATWT for letting me participate in this tour!)
Published by: Hyperion
The Marked (Talents #2) by Inara Scott
All of her life, Dancia Lewis has wanted to use her powers for good. And now that she’s learned the truth about Delcroix Academy—and herself—she may just get the chance. But being part of Delcroix’s top secret Program isn’t anything like Dancia expected. She has to ask herself: what happens to the Talented kids who refuse to pledge their loyalty to the Program? And why did her friend Jack run away rather than join? Dancia’s adorable boyfriend Cam insists they need the help of every Talented student to defend Delcroix from dangerous enemies outside their gates. But Dancia has to wonder: what if Delcroix’s most frightening enemies come from within?
1. (+) Dancia, the protagonist - Dancia's perspective is incredibly easy to read from because of her personality. She's kind, smart, responsible and thoughtful and has great morals despite the temptation she could fall to, given her great power, and around her friends, she is a freshman girl that worries about her boyfriend and getting good grades. Saying that way sort of belittles her (which I don't mean to do, and though I believe that this book is probably meant more for younger teens, Dancia is strong in the way that reminds of older YA protagonists and has to deal with some serious issues). In a way, her perspective reminds me of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone quote about how it takes greater courage to stand up to your friends (than to your enemies), which is exactly what Dancia does. She has questions about the Program she's in; though her boyfriend is deeply entrenched in the Program, she doesn't just mindlessly obey and tag along with him. She is her own character even though this leads her into trouble.
2. (+) The World-building - The world-building seems much better in this novel than from what I can remember in the first Talents novel in that it details things other than those about Delcroix Academy. Now Dancia is a part of the Program so Inara Scott introduces all the types of powers that people besides Cam, Mr. Judan, Jack, and Dancia have. This is one of the things I liked most about the novel--the patterns Ms. Scott traces across the different categories of powers and what I really like is the limits to the powers. Too many novels make it seem like the characters are invincible... but Ms. Scott allows Dancia to discover more about her powers over time, allows her to be vulnerable and scared of her own abilities in a way that endeared me as a reader to her.
3. (+) The Morals - The best part of the book is that not everything is black and white. It's not a clear-cut case of which side is evil, and even the villain seems realistic in his/her belief about the world. The main villain isn't the only opponent either. In general, I loved this part of book because it has that questioning element that dystopian novels have but without the extreme conditions or the protag. taking an extremely long time to figure out that something was amiss. The questioning element appeals to both suspense lovers and dystopian nuts.
4. (+/-) The Romance - unfortunately, the romance lacked a spark for me to really love it. Cam and Dancia act like old souls and not teenagers half the time -- sure they did things like hold hands and make out in a car but none of those scenes were really shown. Dancia and Cam often discussed something terribly serious for teenagers their age, and that meant that their romance lacked heat. It was all sweetness but without the chemistry. And while it's sexy for a guy to have the inner passion that Cam does, I still don't get a sense of who he is, and sometimes it felt like he was middle-aged. He's sort of vanilla (for me at least) as a romantic interest, yet their junior/freshman coupling was still a nice addition to the novel.
5. (+) Character Cast - Delcroix Academy feels like a boarding school with all the characters, new and old, that are introduced and detailed. I loved how their powers somewhat reflected who they were and how Ms. Scott let them shape the characters's personalities--their strengths and flaws.
6. (+) Realism - Because thanks to the character cast and the world-building, I really could imagine all of this happening-- having such a school exist, etc. etc. There have been few books that have ever really accomplished this for me.
7. (+) Character Development - This was especially evident in how Dancia's self-confidence (re: her powers) grew over the course of the novel. It was done well, especially in regards to how she and the other characters continued to ask & refuse to ask questions about what was going on, depending on who the character was... yet the character development was even more evident in Jack, showing how distant he's become after the first novel.
8. (+) the Writing - Not a single slip up. Like I said, Dancia's perspective was easy to read, and there were no cliches, nothing to pull me out of the story.
9. (+) the Pacing - The clues about how wrong the Program keep building and building until they reach their climax, but the book still had time to resolve some of the issues and not leave us on a cliffhanger. In other words, the book was paced well enough to keep my attention throughout and appropriately paced so that not everything happened at once.
10. (--) The Cover - What does this cover do for the novel? It's not the school nor is it Dancia showing off her powers... I like the blues and the somewhat creepy feeling but it's not really appealing for me nor does it represent what's inside well.
The Marked did everything a sequel is supposed to do: advance our understanding of the world and the characters and leave us thirsting for more.