I went into this book only knowing the synopsis; so, I was at once excited and nervous. There was and is a great deal of hype surrounding Leigh Fallon's debut novel. Carrier of the Mark lived up to a few aspects of that buzz for me, but let me down slightly in others. The book was paced fairly well, and while some of the twists were too predictable for my taste, for the most part, it was a fast, enjoyable read, though I do want to go more in depth on a couple of my likes and dislikes, and my reasons why.
Leigh Fallon introduces us to Megan Rosenberg, a teenage girl who moves to Ireland with her father. Megan's dad has lived a sort of nomadic life ever since Megan's mother died some years back in a car crash, but when they settle in Kinsale, Ireland, they both seem to feel an instant sort of kinship to the land. I liked Megan right away - she had a personality, wasn't just a cardboard cut-out of a character, and her relationship with her dad made me want to laugh and hug them both, but, and this is just a personal hang-up of mine, I wanted MORE to their relationship, more interaction. Her dad seemed to care a lot about her but in some ways it was like he just wasn't there. But so, we meet Megan, who starts at her new school, and makes some fairly awesome friends right off the bat, then garners the attention of the anti-social/gorgeous Adam DeRis.
I hate to do this, but I feel like I can't review this book without mentioning Twilight. Normally I don't make a big show of comparing one book to another, but there are similarities here. Megan is a lot more self-aware than Bella, but under Adam's "come-closer-no-stay-away" vibes, she kind of melts into a puddle of goo, a la Bella around Edward. Adam's siblings somewhat reminded me of some of the members of the Cullen family. And some of the events that happened in the book strikingly parallel Twilight. The difference though, is that Carrier of the Mark is not Twilight. Megan is not Bella - her choices, in my opinion, are more intelligent than Bella's. For example, instead of instantly decided to join Adam's world, she asks questions, wants to know their history, etc, then makes an informed decision. Adam is not Edward, even if he does have his moments where you want to shake, or perhaps slap him, but he has a personality all his own. And Carrier of the Mark brings up a heart-wrenching question that Twilight, to the best of my memory, never asked its version of: what if Megan and Adam's attraction/bond is only brought on by their ties to the elements?
The mythos in this series was my absolute favorite part of the book. I'm not so sure about the whole prophecy thing that is revealed further in the book, but I think Leigh Fallon has done a fabulous job of building her world, so to speak. There's enough that is hinted at in Carrier of the Mark to whet the reader's appetites, while leaving room for much more in the following two books.
The characters was all strong, well-fleshed out for the most part, and I really enjoyed their relationships in the book. Megan was self-confident, although I'd have absolutely loved her to be more spirited. Caitlin was a sweetheart and immediately likeable. Aine and Rian probably stood out to me the most - Aine with her vivacious, ethereal nature, and Rian, with his tortured nature. For some reason, I gravitated toward him more than I realized, until I was finished with the book. I saw another reviewer who pointed out that, given the nature of the DeRis family, Rian's reactions and thoughts seemed the most genuine. I think I agree with that!
And, while I won't spoil, I had a lot of issues with the ending. I am not a fan (as y'all have probably noticed by now) of books where the ending is wrapped up too neatly, or too quickly, and I feel like in some ways, that happened in both cases with this book. I don't think the book would have suffered from another 30 -50 pages or so added in closer to the end as a pay-off to the suspense that built before the rushed ending.
Overall, while I had my issues with this book, it was a quick and fun read, which left me with some questions answered, and still more unanswered. I am normally not a fan of the "insta-love" plot device which seems to be a favorite of far too many authors, but for the most part in this book, I thought it worked, though I would like to see more of the sequel devoted to building Adam and Megan's relationship. Carrier of the Mark held my attention, and I feel like Leigh Fallon has a lot of potential for her future books with her debut.
Final rating: 3.5 stars. (Dear Goodreads: please add a 1/2 star option.)
See more of my reviews at Once Upon a Prologue