Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-fi, Fantasy
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Visit Carve the Mark‘s goodreads page here
SYNOPSIS: “Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.
Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?
Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.”
DISCLAIMER: The review may contain minor spoilers, so read at your own risk. The novel also contains content that may be triggering and hurtful, such as Chronic pain and racism.
I wasn’t actively wishing to read this novel due to the poor reviews and controversy within the community, but when my 60-year old grandfather read the book and enjoyed it I thought I’d give it a go. That’s right, we share books!
The novel was shunned for its poor portrayal of chronic pain and its racist remarks, which quite frankly, I am not one to discuss the matter accurately. I am an Australian teenager who is white, never experienced chronic pain, and therefore I am rather ashamed to say that I did not pick up on the key characteristics surrounding these issues. So, I did some research afterwards to educate myself further, and I came across a post written by Vermillion Dynamo that explores these issues in depth, and how they impact the affected communities. You can check it out for yourself here.
As for the plot itself, I did not overly enjoy the novel. It definitely had its strong points, but the writing style was one that I did not enjoy and it felt rather messy. I had the same problem with Roth’s previous work, The Divergent Trilogy, and I was disappointed to find that it didn’t improve.
First of all, there was a combination of character POV, which isn’t uncommon, but the thing that made it feel uncomfortable and jarring was the fact one was in first person while the other was in third. With alternating chapters of perspective, it wasn’t as smooth as I hoped and that hindered my experience, and to make things worse Akos (the character with the third person POV) was under-developed and felt one-dimensional. That’s not to say his presence wasn’t important, in fact, he became a major plot point and influence in Cyra’s life, but he seemed to lack a personality of his own. Sure, he was smart and kind, had fears and ambitions, but when he was with Cyra he disappeared into the shadows and lost his individuality.
That being said, the relationships between Cyra and Akos was an interesting one, but I felt that the romance aspect was forced and mechanical. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them but I absolutely adored how they helped each other through tough situations and the fact that they really connected on a deep level rather than the superficial characteristics that are common in YA novels.
The current aspect of the story was my favourite! I loved the X-men vibes and it saved the book from obliteration. The idea wasn’t exactly original, but Roth gave it her own little twist by making each ‘gift’ unique to the character and their personality. I must admit, some of them were a bit questionable and I could see why there was such a large uproar within the book community, and I am in no way ignoring that, but I felt that most of the characters had gifts accurate to their personality. I wish that there was more focus on how they the gifts are formed, although we got a few smaller scenes, I would’ve loved more information surrounding Cyra’s first moments with her gift. I feel as though that would’ve evoked more sympathy for her character and made the relationship with Akos more of a necessity.
The world building was subpar and felt as though Roth was far too ambitious for her own good. Not only did she create two ‘enemy’ cultures, but she thought she’d go all out and create a whole solar system of her own. In Carve the Mark I remember no more than 5 of the different planets being mentioned, and only two played a pivotal role in the story. I understand that this was the first novel to a duology but I really can’t imagine how she would effortlessly incorporate all the planets and cultures, so this makes me wonder how Thuvhe and Shotet could’ve benefited from that extra time in the limelight. I would love to learn more about the history between the two regions that share the same planet and how their earlier colonies interacted, and perhaps that could be the key to resolving the major conflict.
At this very moment, I have no intentions on completing the duology because I don’t wish to support the series and author due to the pain it has already caused. That said, if my grandad hands me a free copy I might give it a shot, because honestly, who wouldn’t!
Have you read this book or are thinking about picking it up? Tell me in a comment down below, and I’ll see you next time!