Genre: General Fiction
Author(s): Bulbring, Edyth
Publisher(s): Tafelberg Publishers Ltd
In the future, the world has flipped. Ravaged by the Conflagration, this is a harsh world where the relentless sun beats down, peoples lives are run by a heartless elite and law is enforced by a brutal brigade. A mark at the base of the spine controls each persons destiny. The Machine decides what work you will do and who your life partner will be. In this world, everyone must make their contribution. Some more than others. Juliet Seven Ettie will soon turn 15 and her life as a drudge will begin, her fate-mate mate will be chosen. Like everyone else, her future is marked by the numbers on her spine. But Ettie decides to challenge her destiny. And in so doing, she fulfils the prophecy that was spoken of before she even existed.
By: Nikki McDiarmid
Posted on: May 29, 2017
Reviewed by Puku’s Nikki McDiarmid
Dystopian fiction that South African readers have been desperate for
Instantly gripping, The Mark’s first chapter has readers scrambling for some semblance of recognition in a city where nothing is the same.It is the year 264 PC.Thrust immediately into a scene of chaos, readers are confronted by invisible monsters, Market Nags, Locusts and sun worshippers, watching as thieves from the Slums filch the treasures left behind. Ettie is nearly caught, on purpose, so that Kitty can get away safely| Kitty, her attractive roommate, whose survival is more important than her own.Handled by a cruel man, Ettie and Kitty must survive in Slum City until they reach their coming of age, where they will then be assigned to a trade, bound to duties that will make them slaves to the system, controlled always by the Machine.The mark on Ettie’s back burns after numerous attempts to remove it. But this pain will keep her alive.Other than Kitty, Ettie loves only books, their paper pages ancient remnants of a world long past. So when Nicolas shows his interest, even though forbidden to her, Ettie has no choice, but to follow her heart and change the future of Mangeria.Hiding where there were no distractions, I dived eagerly into The Mark, waiting for it to come alive. I was not disappointed. The mysteries of this new world lead the reader on a fast-paced adventure that is most compelling.It is a dystopian story so hauntingly South African that I wrapped it around me like a shroud. Reminded of the isolated prawns in ‘District 9’ and the children in ‘The Thief Lord’ by Cornelia Funke, Edyth Bulbring’s orphans are as memorable.Existing in a world bereft of innocence, where beauty is a fragile commodity and stands out noticeably against its surroundings, the treasures of humanity must be suppressed and carefully secreted away to places where none can find them.As I read, I find myself wanting more, desperate for further pages of this richly-described horrendous place, filled with evil and filth and soft over-ripe bananas.In the middle of the story The Mark is split in two halves, demarcating one life from another and jarring the process of reading. My thoughts were displaced and I was left to begin over. This stopped the flow of the story and in coming up for air, I found myself feeling curiously abandoned.And yet, despite this disjointedness, Bulbring manages to pull the reader back again and whip them through the pages so fast that The Mark pretty much guarantees an exciting second read.The Mark, perhaps not completely resolved, is a first that will pave the way for future tales in this genre, leaving readers in no doubt that when a South African story is richer than most of its competitors, then local storytellers have finally come home to roost.This is the South African fiction we have all been waiting for.