Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Published: HarperCollins on January 17, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult, Action & Adventure
This was a pretty risky read for me, considering my loathe towards the last two novels of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. However, I went into this novel with an open mind hoping for redemption. Afterall, everybody makes mistakes and deserves a second chance. Here’s what happened:
Carve the Mark takes place in a world where everything is powered by the current, much like the force in Star Wars. However, the current also flows through people, giving everyone their own unique currentgift. 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 torture device 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. Honor has no place in survival.
Right from the synopsis, it is clear that a lot of world building is required in order to fully understand and commit to the storyline, which unfortunately brings me to my first complaint. Roth definitely has the voice for world building, however while reading the novel, I felt as though there were still plot holes and unanswered questions. The beginning of the novel (okay really the first 100 pages) felt very tedious and boring because of the amount of world building that had to take place, and still I don’t fully understand the world. There’s even a glossary at the back of the novel to help understand these complex names of characters and places which in my opinion kind of took away from her writing.
The novel is also told in three different perspectives. First, there is Cyra’s perspective where she uses first person pronouns, but it sometimes switches into a third person narrator in the same chapter which I found quite odd and confusing. Then there is Akos’ perspective which is told in third person as well, but follows his perspective. Overall, I found this to be quite ineffective and make her writing seem unpolished. It would have been better to keep it consistent, most likely with a third person narrator. Cyra’s personal perspective didn’t serve any purpose and was unnecessary.
However the premise of the novel itself was quite interesting and engaging. Although the novel takes after a very common young adult formula with the two opposing nations on the brink of war, the forbidden love story between enemies, and the siblings trying to save each other from the other side, just to name a couple, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for those. Carve the Mark is a satisfying read for the young adult craving.
Some problems that I found with Roth’s writing however was the relationships that she had built. It felt very rushed and kind of unrealistic in the sense that the characters who are supposed to be mortal enemies came together as allies without a real fight or tension. It just all felt too easy in my opinion and was missing the angst and fire that I was expecting. The romance between Cyra and Akos also happened quite early and quickly in the novel which was a little disappointing. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it instalove, but there was also no built up tension or anticipation leading up to their relationship, which caused me to not really commit to the idea of them as a couple. I didn’t find myself really rooting for them to be together.
One thing I can appreciate from this novel is the reversal of roles. I really enjoyed how Cyra is a strong warrior who teaches Akos how to fight, who is the blushing, sweet tempered guy who wants to see the best in everything.
I really enjoyed Cyra as the main protagonist in the novel. I liked that she was realistic and wasn’t always the all mighty heroine that is common in many young adult novels. Her currentgift causes her constant chronic pain, and I liked that she didn’t hide that from anyone and was able to admit to her vulnerabilities. I appreciated that she was very selfless, but also smart. Her decisions were never irrational and selfish and didn’t annoy me endlessly.
Akos was a bit of a boring character for me. There was never really a moment in the novel where his character really clicked with me and made me love him. However, one thing I can appreciate is his determination and how he stayed true to himself despite the circumstances that he is faced with.
Overall, Carve the Mark was a surprising read for me. Though it’s not a book that I would rave about and be on the top of my list to recommend to others, I liked it more than I was anticipating. I was pretty satisfied with the novel by the end of it and will definitely be picking up the second novel when it releases. I guess you win this round Veronica Roth.