Series: The Marked Girl #1
Published by Harper Collins on June 21, 2016
Source: Author Review Copy
Genres: Action & Adventure, Romance, Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
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Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Los Angeles)…
When Cedric, crowned prince of Caelum, and his fellow royal friends (including his betrothed, Kat) find themselves stranded in modern-day L.A. via a magical portal and an evil traitor named Malquin, all they want to do is get home to Caelum—soon. Then they meet Liv, a filmmaker foster girl who just wants to get out of the system and on with her life. As she and Cedric bond, they’ll discover that she’s more connected to his world than they ever could’ve imagined…and that finding home is no easy task…
Worlds collide in The Marked Girl, an exciting fantasy tale turned upside down.
This is one of those books where I was super excited for, but it ended up being quite disappointing for how average it is. There is nothing about The Marked Girl that marks it out of the dozens of Young Adult books out there, despite the exciting premise and gorgeous cover. All the elements and characters we see in the story aren’t that unique, which in the end makes it for a pretty bland read.
I was excited to meet Liv because she seemed like a witty main character. I mean, the description of her on the blurb is “a filmmaker foster girl.” The foster part plays an important role in the story, but a filmmaker she is not quite. The only glimpses we see of her pursuing that goal is one scene in the beginning and a couple of mentions in the rest of the book. Despite that, she was still quite likeable and made me laugh out loud a few times while reading. Her best friend, Shannon, is also fun but had no role in the book other than being the supporting best friend.
Cedric is described as having “blue, blue eyes,” which immediately made me wary of him. I’m probably quite neutral about his character, which is pretty sad because he seemed like he had potential. He’s the type of prince that’s not quite ready to be a leader and have all the decisions resting on his shoulders. While I understand this internal conflict, it was just exasperating to read about. The friends he brings into LA are no better. Their characteristics are really quite mundane and nothing different than the norm in the YA world: a fiance that gets envious of other girls and follows the prince with blind eyes, and a jealous “best friend” that has scathing comments whenever he gets a line (which is rarely). Both characters weren’t endearing, and I did not enjoy their moments. Although there are some very cute moments, such as when Cedric discovers the magic of maple syrup when eating pancakes and learning about teevees, the introduction of characters from a fantasy land to LA was overall quite underwhelming.
Later that morning, Liv’s biggest hurdle was trying to convince Cedric not to bring a sword on the LA city bus.
I’m always searching out for romance, but this one didn’t hit me in the heart… or anywhere at all. A forbidden love is featured, where our characters are from two different worlds and have two different priorities. While Liv wants to find her siblings and keep them safe from the cult society chasing them because of their special marks, Cedric must head back to his kingdom and save it from being dominated by the evil wraths, which are monsters in that realm. It creates a rift in their relationship, and I just didn’t feel the pain. Other than being good-looking and having powers, I didn’t really see the appeal in Cedric. The whole time while reading, I tried to like him (I really did!). But alas, I could not find any traits that helped endear him to me.
‘Isn’t it beautiful?’ Liv had asked, sneaking glances to atch Cedric’s expression as he took in the sight for the first time.
‘It is,’ Cedric had responded, a tugging feeling in his chest. ‘But it is not home.’
For some reason, I didn’t realize that the title The Marked Girl pertains to the main character before starting the book (although it wasn’t surprising). It may reassure readers, however, to hear that she isn’t the only Marked one and thus not “the Chosen One.” Either way, the whole situation was interesting enough for me to keep reading, yet not to be that excited about. To go back to the world where they came from, Cedric and his friends must create another portal using a scroll. Thus, they go on a quest to find this scroll. It turns out that it may be right under their noses the whole time…
While this was going on, we get introduced to a host of new characters throughout the story, including Liv’s biological siblings who got separated from her when they went into foster care. I didn’t really quite care for them either. My passivity for the events that happened is so intense that my chest almost caved in from sighing so much. New characters? Meh. Characters discover something? Yawn. Someone gets kidnapped? What’s new in the world. There were many things that could have made this book epic (Knights of Valere! Evil wraths! Etc), but fell short of expectations in the end.
Despite the heavy sighing, I’d still recommend this book for readers looking for a quick, magic-filled read. It isn’t something that I’d push in people’s faces, but the intriguing story and likeable (enough) characters still make it fun to pass the time. However, be prepared to encounter elements that have been done many times before in other books. The ending is a cliffhanger that definitely sets up more for a sequel. I’ll still be looking out for the next book, and next time I’ll hopefully be able to connect to the characters more as we discover more things about the kingdom of Caelum.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Thank you Kit at Let the Pages Reign for a review copy!