A Crooked Mark, by Linda Kao, is a captivating young adult novel that delves into the supernatural world of good and evil. Set against a backdrop where the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred, the story follows 17-year-old Matthew Watts, who, alongside his father, hunts down individuals marked by the devil himself. However, when Matt is tasked with tracking Rae Winter, a survivor of a car crash that should have taken her life, his beliefs and perceptions are challenged, forcing him to question his mission and the nature of good and evil.
One of the strengths of A Crooked Mark lies in Linda Kao’s ability to create a compelling and suspenseful narrative. The book maintains a steady pace, gradually unraveling the mysteries surrounding the supposed marked individual and their connection to the devil. The tension and intrigue build steadily throughout the story, keeping readers engaged and eager to uncover the truth alongside the protagonist. Kao’s writing style is immersive, with vivid descriptions that bring the scenes and characters to life, further enhancing the reading experience.
The character development in the novel is another positive aspect. Matt, as the main character, undergoes a significant transformation as he grapples with his beliefs and emotions. His internal struggle and conflicting emotions, especially concerning his growing feelings for Rae, are depicted realistically and add depth to his character. The supporting characters, including Rae, are well-rounded and contribute to the overall richness of the story.
Moreover, Kao expertly explores complex themes, such as the nature of good and evil, the power of belief, and the importance of questioning established norms. The exploration of these themes adds layers of depth to the narrative, making it more than just a supernatural thriller. It encourages readers to reflect on their own beliefs and perceptions, raising thought-provoking questions about the nature of morality and the existence of evil in the world.
However, A Crooked Mark does have some weaknesses that are worth noting. While the supernatural elements of the story are intriguing, there are instances where the boundaries between reality and fantasy become unclear. This can sometimes make it difficult to fully grasp the rules and mechanics of the supernatural world within the story. Additionally, the ending feels somewhat rushed, resulting in some plot threads left unresolved and leaving readers with a sense of wanting more closure.
Overall, A Crooked Mark is a compelling and thought-provoking novel that will appeal to fans of supernatural thrillers and readers who enjoy exploring deeper themes. Linda Kao’s ability to craft a suspenseful narrative, combined with well-developed characters and thought-provoking themes, makes this book an engaging read. Despite its minor flaws, A Crooked Mark is a captivating addition to the young adult genre that leaves readers pondering the blurred lines between good and evil long after they’ve turned the final page.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Penguin Random House, for review.