Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 17, 2017
Genres: fantasy, science fiction
Pages: 480 pages
Amazon • Indiebound • Barnes & Noble • Goodreads
Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth's stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.
On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not — their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?
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 from the peace-loving nation of Thuve, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive — no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive — or to destroy one another.
This post is sponsored by HarperCollins. This does not affect the content of the review.
Are you ready for this? It’s Veronica Roth’s new book! After bursting on the scene with Divergent, the author experienced meteoric success with her trilogy, which also resulted into some pretty enjoyable films. It’s been 3 years since Allegiant caused an avalanche of tears, so everyone is curious: does Carve the Mark live up to its predecessor?
The short answer is: yes, if you enjoyed Divergent, you will enjoy this. For myself, I liked Carve the Mark overall, though I’m also left with some questions. Which is not unlike the experience I had with Divergent, for what it’s worth.
Things I liked:
— The powers are cool. To name a few: Cyra has Rogue-like powers (without that pesky “you can’t touch me” business), Akos can take pain from others, and another guy named Vas feels no pain at all.
— I liked that there’s a bit of a role reversal with Cyra and Akos in general; not only does he have the healing power, but he’s also the gentler, kinder soul of the two of them. She’s been hardened by necessity, though in meeting someone who is her polar opposite, she begins to wonder whether she needs to be resigned to her fate.
— Hushflowers, potion-making, and tea-sipping are among the many small details that I enjoyed. This is scifi that feels like fantasy–or it is it fantasy that feels like scifi? Whatever its categorization, there’s temperature and texture and an organic nature that provides interesting contrast to the technology, and helps to make us feel grounded in an unfamiliar world.
— There are some good action sequences later in the book. A bit more time spent on these chapters would have been nice, but there are still some vividly physical scenes.
— As with Tris, Roth once again creates a heroine who is principled and conflicted. I liked Cyra a lot, and her character’s battle with her conscience forms the heart of the story.
Death is a mercy compared to the agony I have caused.
A few things I think could have been improved:
— The book is 480 pages, and honestly, it feels long and the pacing often feels off. I wanted more detail in some areas and wished for less than others, particularly in the earlier sections of the book as we’re getting to know the world and characters. This was probably the biggest issue for me.
— I’m not entirely sure I understand how this world works. While I appreciate that there isn’t a huge info-dump at the beginning, I think various choices in relaying information (alternating POVs, a long timeline from childhood to adolescence, etc) contributed to obscuring the readers’ grasp on the rules and specifics of this society. After awhile I kind of just stopped asking questions and went with it, and enjoyed the story for what it was. Confusing? Yes. And in a way I think could have been easily fixed.
— The villain should be more interesting. Right now his motivations seem far too simplistic; cruelty always cuts deeper if there are more layers to everyone involved.
— I like the love interest, but I’d like Akos even more if he was a bit more complex.
— I confess to also being impatient with difficult names in SFF, so I struggled a bit in the beginning. Most of the primary people names I was able to remember easily, but mixed with Eijah, Cisi, Osno, Ori, Uzul, (help a girl out by varying the number of syllables and first initials more, please!) on top of a lot of new terminology and customs and Shotet, Thuvhe, Thuvhesit, Kereseths and my eyes begin to cross. Honestly, I was so hung up on navigating all this that I’m a bit worried I’m missing important subtexts and themes. :( But if you’re a more patient and seasoned SFF reader than I am, this might not bother you one bit.
On a positive note, I do think that two things have improved significantly from the Divergent trilogy: the writing has moments of solemn loveliness, and there’s, um, a lot of chemistry between Cyra and Akos. So much so that I had initially had a couple of sigh-worthy scenes marked to share here, but ultimately decided they’d be too spoilery. Suffice to say that this is not a romance-driven book, but there are some nicely satisfying moments of intimacy in it. View Spoiler »KISSES, THERE ARE GREAT KISSES, OKAY? « Hide Spoiler
I’m eager to see Cyra’s story arc develop in the next sequel. She’s already begun to look outside herself in this one, so seeing her character develop and her relationships deepen should be even more rewarding.
Are you excited to read Carve the Mark? Only two more months until it’s out!
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A review copy was also provided by the publisher. Quotes are taken from an advance readers copy, and may change upon publication.