BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review of The Ancillary's Mark by Daniel A Cohen

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Release Date:  November 4, 2010

More Info:  Amazon

Book Blurb:

The legend of the Ancillary flower has existed for centuries. Foretold to bring out the limitless potential of its bearer, the flower and the legend have been forgotten by many. Recently, strange events in a shrouded Tibetan town have sparked rumors among those who still believe.

Jacob Deer is a quirky young man, bound for college, with an eccentric old librarian for a best friend, an obsession with sitting down in elevators, and a strange birthmark on his hand that's shaped mysteriously like the markings on the Ancillary's petals. When Jacob's mentor Mr. Maddock reveals to him his connection with the legendary Ancillary, it sets in motion a series of events that sends Jacob and friends across the world. Alongside an alluring young woman, a marine-reject, and a Tibetan kid obsessed with comic books, Jacob must face off against a vengeful maniac for the fate of the flower, the legend, and all mankind.

My thoughts:

Jacob is a quirky teenage American boy killing time before he heads off for college in the autumn. A few aspects of his character could have been more developed; for example, his quirks are thrown out there in a deliberate manner rather than 'unveiled', told to us instead of shown. He also need some faults to round him out and make him more believable. One of his "flaws", which is really an outgrowth of his quirkiness, is that he doesn't have many friends. His only real friend is the elderly librarian, Mr. Maddock, at the local library. Jacob, or Cob, as Mr. Maddock calls him, has a feeling, a certain and strong belief, that there is something out there waiting for him, if he can just figure out what it is. In the meantime, he reads voraciously in any genre or subject and enjoys his life.

On one of his daily visits to the library, he meets Maddock's granddaughter, Sophia. Jacob is instantly attracted to her. His lack of social skills leave her less than impressed but he makes up for it by showing her his special spot in the local forest. Soon, their trip there is cut short by a phone call from her grandfather.

The action kicks in when Mr Maddock reads of important discoveries happening in a little town in the middle of nowhere in Tibet. Mr Maddock believes that those events signal the return of the mythical blue flower, the Ancillary. It's reputed to give individuals the ability to tap into and live up to their fullest potential. Here, the story gets mystical, spiritual and philosophical all at once. It's a mishmash of ancient and new age beliefs that the author devised for this book. Maddock believes that Jacob is the one person in the current life cycle of the flower meant to benefit the most from the flower because Jacob bears the mark of the flower -  the odd birthmark on Jacob's hand is actually the symbol of the flower. 

In no time, and with no reasonable explanation provided for Mr Maddock's considerable financial resources, Cob and Sophia head off to Tibet with a bodyguard/survival guide, Diego, that Maddock has hired. Of course, they aren't the only ones in search of the mythical Ancillary flower and its gifts. There are unexpected allies, surprise foes, betrayals, and some minor twists and turns. 

Cohen's storytelling style is simplistic and his characters need more depth but he does quirky very well. Jacob was too perfect, too smart despite Cohen telling us that he's not a genius, but he is likable and delightfully odd, if calculatedly so. My favorite character is actually a secondary one, Clark (not his real name) a young Tibetan native who quickly becomes an ally. Clark loves Superman, hence the nickname, wears a tuxedo to sing to bonsai trees, and, thanks to the Ancillary flower, is a master linguist. He provides a great deal of help to Jacob and Sophia.

The author, Daniel Cohen, is a 22 year old business student who decided that writing was more fun. He doesn't currently have a website but he is at work on the first book of a new YA trilogy. Overall, The Ancillary's Mark is a good debut and a pleasant YA adventure novel.

This PDF was received from the author for review. This review first appeared at Book Lovers Inc. 

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