On the run from the men who murdered her parents, there's only one way to save herself. Marriage to a genetically-matched stranger. Demy has been on the run since she was thirteen years old. Mysterious men in black cloaks have been chasing her, and so far she's evaded them. Something, though, has changed since she turned eighteen. Their attempts to capture her have gotten closer and closer, until she's only got one option left: turning herself over to the NLC, for the compulsory marriage program. She doesn't want to get married, but with her would-be captors on her heels, she's got no choice but to hope the NLC's strict security protocols will be a safe haven. Marriage is a small price to pay for her life, after all. And maybe, just maybe, she'll finally have the space to discover why she's being hunted. *** Marked is a new entry point in the Populations Crumble world, but many familiar characters will be present from the original trilogy.
“Do you think one of the guys got here early? I already picked two of my three.” She does an excited little shoulder shimmy at the thought, but I want to run back to my room. I’m not ready to meet my guys, and I really hope we’ll get a little more time.
I still haven’t even opened the app. Though, if people are going to start showing up . . . I need to get on that. I trail behind Cammie and Leilani to the top of the grand staircase, and we only make it halfway down before a chipper, feminine voice calls out.
“Whassup, my ladies?!”
My head snaps up from the woven stair runner, and I see another blonde girl waiting in the middle of the foyer.
Cammie and Leilani both call out excited greetings, and I belatedly add a, “Hello,” to the mix.
We make it down into the foyer, and she’s bouncing on the balls of her feet like a boxer. Though, as a boxer I can’t imagine she’d do much. She’s maybe a hundred fifteen pounds soaking wet, short and delicate-looking in a slouchy green t-shirt, ripped jeans, and scuffed-up tennis shoes.
“My name’s Nell, and I’m joining you three for this round of matches! Have you guys met your dudes yet?”
“Uh, no? We just did all the medical exams this morning. The schedule in our e-planners says we have a week of training classes before the introductions,” Cammie answers, mirroring Nell’s peppy tone.
A week before any guys show up? Oh, thank God.
“Okay, so the fun is just beginning, nice!”
“Uhm, have you done this before or something?” Leilani asks.
“Oh, yeah. Couple years ago, now. But, uh, things didn’t work out.” She shrugs one shoulder blithely, but doesn’t offer any other explanation. “So, this is round two for me. Sucks I couldn’t have gotten here after the boring classes, though.” Nell rolls her eyes dramatically.
“So, what was it like?” I blurt the question, suddenly needing to know everything, while simultaneously afraid to hear what she has to say.
“Which part? The matching? The honeymoons? The breakup?”
“The matching—let’s start with that,” Leilani cuts in, anxiety ratcheting her voice up to a higher register than usual, and for a moment, I feel a sense of camaraderie. We’re all going through this roller coaster of unease and unknown.
5 out of 5 (exceptional)
MARKED is the first book in a spin-off series called Populations Crumble: Resurgence. I haven't read the first series but now I really want to. Not because something is missing from this book - oh, no. I want to read that because this one was SO good!
Demy is a likeable character from the start, running from danger, looking for safety. She joins the program not really knowing what she's doing, just hoping she will be safe. What she gets is so much more than she expected.
I loved this world. Okay, there are parts of it that aren't so good, but on the whole, I was taken with Demy and saw what she saw. There is lots of action and it's also very emotional. The choice Demy has to make is incredibly tough. I know which way I'd go, as it stands right now, but I'm hedging my bets because I have no idea which way this story is going to go. And I love that!
The cliffhanger is a killer and I honestly can't wait to see what happens next. An incredible story with amazing characters that I have no hesitation in HIGHLY RECOMMENDING.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
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K. A. Gandy was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, and is married with two kids. She has worked as a restaurant hostess, library book shelver, ranch hand, tour guide, Realtor, tech whiz, landlord, and small business consultant, all in addition to pursuing her passion of writing. She likes to write late in the evenings and thinks drinking hot tea and baking great cookies fuels hopes and dreams. If you would like to find more of her works, you can sign up for her newsletter at https://www.subscribepage.com/kagandy. You can also get updates on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KAGandyAuthor. I’ve also recently started a facebook group for readers, who enjoy YA Dystopian books, and am available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org as well, if you’d ever like to drop me a line directly!