For What It's Worth

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: The Ancillary's Mark by Daniel A. Cohen

The Ancillary's MarkThe 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. (YA)

The Ancillary’s Mark is a combination of adventure, fantasy, books and romance.
Jacob is what you would politely describe as quirky. He’s 18 years old and hasn’t had many girlfriends because of his eccentricities. His alarm clock rings to a James Bond theme, he has a picture of a young Sean Connery next to his bed and he has color coded post-it notes to mark his mood while reading a book. That way when he picks it back up he can channel that mood again before reading on (I actually kind of like that one!). He’s almost a little too weird and perfect but I couldn’t help liking him anyway. There are too few good guys in books these days and he is just one of the sweetest, even with his oddities. Jacob isn’t bothered by any of it though and has always felt a pull to a greater destiny.
The stories of great technological advances taking place in a small Tibetan town grab elderly librarian Mr. Maddock’s attention. Mr. Maddock has been a good friend and father figure to Jacob over the years and now has to explain Jacob’s part in the Ancillary legend.
The Ancillary is a small blue flower that contains pollen that is believed to give the person who finds it limitless knowledge, allowing them to find their true destiny. This person could shape the future of mankind. The flowers petals are the same shape as a birthmark on Jacobs palm signifying that he may be the one who is meant to find the flower. Unfortunately another man, Marrow (because of his bone markings on his skin) has the same birthmark but has far less humanitarian intentions if he is the one to gain the power over the flower. (FLOWER POWER! Sorry – couldn’t resist) It’s a race to see who can get to the Ancillary in time and which one is destined for greatness. Jacob embarks on his quest with the help of the beautiful Sophia, Mr. Maddock’s granddaughter and Diego, their body guard in a battle of good vs. evil.
This isn’t really my genre of reading but it was a fun, fantasy adventure. Cohen writes the legend in great detail and I enjoyed the interactions with the people they meet along the way. One notable character was another quirky young boy, Clark, who is a super hero fanatic with gifts of his own.
One thing that bothered me though is that Jacob’s little band of heroes were so nice, so eternally optimistic that when confronted with Marrow, who is truly an evil sadistic man, it was almost jarring. Jacob’s side of the story would make for a fun, younger YA read, but some of Marrow’s actions might not be advisable for those same readers. (Note: I’m not a parent so I’m only guessing here. I’m judging by what my nieces and nephews read and enjoy and what their mom would approve of.)
There’s a touch of romance and lots of adventure with a nicely wrapped up ending. I kept hoping for some deeper character development. I enjoyed everyone but wasn’t quite on the edge of my seat in a panic over everyone’s fate. Although I love a stand-alone book once in a while this might have been one of those cases that a series would have been in order to slowly develop and mature the characters a bit.

Rating: 3 out of 4 Enjoyable fantasy adventure probably better suited to a younger reader than myself.

Source: Received from the author for my honest review.
Buy the book! The Ancillary's Mark


  1. Huh, I'd never heard of this book before, but it sounds very intriguing. I may have to check it out!

  2. I like Jacob's putting post it notes to channel his moods...that is funny. It sounds cute, but I'm not sure I would pick this up. Thanks for your thoughts.