Hey everyone! I read Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark last month, her newest book! Today I thought I’d do both a spoiler free and spoiler review for this book. You may have seen my post when I got my signed copy and got to meet Veronica Roth at a book release event she did the day after the book was released. I had also recently reread Divergent and read the other books and watched the movie adaptations for the first time so I was still on my Veronica Roth mindset when this book was released.
So the book focuses on two main characters, Cyra and Akos. Cyra’s older brother is the cruel and harsh ruler of Shotet, Akos and his brother are captives of the Shotet, who have come to Thuvhe. Cyra’s life is full of pain and manipulation. In the book, characters have a “currentgift”or a power they come into when they reach adolescence, and Cyra’s causes both her and anyone she touches excruciating pain. As a result, her brother uses her to torture anyone who opposes him.
Akos wants to find his brother among the Shotet and escape, but he and Cyra’s paths cross and despite the fact that they are enemies they are able to form a friendship that they both want to fight to protect.
So onto the spoiler free review! I’ll put a photo of the book and give warning below when I start the spoiler review.
I really enjoyed this book, especially since it came at the perfect time for me. I had really been craving a story set in space and so I was looking forward to this book, especially after hearing so much praise for it before the release through various YouTubers.
Overall I feel like Cyra and Akos were what brought the book from great to amazing. The plot was awesome, the details were enchanting, but the characters were phenomenal. Cyra was my favorite by far! Not to say I didn’t like Akos, just that Cyra was my favorite. Once the story gets going there are various other awesome characters as well.
I feel like I would have liked to know a little bit more about their world, outside of Cyra and Akos, earlier. It wasn’t all too clear how Thuvhe is run until much later, and it was difficult to understand how the Shotet gained such strong footing on Thuvhe. I’m hoping there will be more about the history of their world in the second book.
I did give this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I had really felt drawn into this story and enjoyed how Veronica Roth told this story and proved she could write great stories beyond Divergent. I did devour this entire book in one afternoon/evening/night after work on a Friday, I just couldn’t put it down! Now onto the spoilers! (After the next picture the spoilers start. They end after the second picture farther down.)
I found Cyra and Akos to be such interesting and compelling characters. They are brought together with Cyra’s benefit in mind and although they both resent it, they both work to find a way to coexist. I really loved how Veronica Roth connected the currentgift to the characters. Cyra caused pain and felt pain and early on it was pointed out that it likely stemmed from her people’s violent tendencies. Akos’ gifts seem to stem more from his desire to be a neutral third party, to avoid trouble despite finding quite a bit of it, and his currentgift is to interrupt currentgifts. Together Cyra and Akos balance each other out both as people, as friends, and through their currentgifts.
I loved Cyra the best, she was constantly being told what to do and treated as if she was dumb, always underestimated. However her thoughts showed such a strong character. Akos started a little boring for me, but I think it’s because it does take longer to get to know him. Cyra’s part of the story is told in a first person style while Akos is a third person perspective. I know hadn’t expected to like that as much as I did. I knew going into it that this would be the case as Veronica Roth said at her talk that she switched between first and third person for the characters, and I was wary. I do feel that she did first person a little better, perhaps because she had written the Divergent series in first person so she had practice, and Cyra seemed more genuine to me, but once we got to know Akos it was easy to see how goal oriented and dedicated he is to the people he cares about.
The Shotet and Thuvhe people could not be more different. The Shotet are very violent and very showy, while the Thuvhe are peaceful and are much more simple in their lifestyle. There has been quite a bit of debate about this book regarding racism in this book. I didn’t fully pick up on this while reading, because I never remember how the characters are described and I picture them how I want to. However, the Shotet are described as darker skinned people than the Thuvhe, and as the Shotet are the violent and “bad” group of the two, it has been picked apart for that.
Looking back I can see how that could be the case, although I don’t know if I would say Veronica Roth did that on person. I know that lots of people do tend to look towards physical appearances to separate people. As a woman of color, I do feel like I should have picked up on this and I do know that I often don’t, possibly out of lack of interest but likely out of denial that it’s a problem as I have been lucky enough to be raised to believe it’s a non-issue and to be surrounded by people who don’t separate me or think of me differently because of my skin color. It’s difficult, impossible even, and downright dangerous to continue to ignore that racism exists, even subconsciously, so this debate has definitely brought this to my attention. I do hope that this issue does help all writers, myself included, and readers, again myself included, to pay more attention and not stay ignorant of this issue.
Even so, I am looking forward to the next book in the series as I did enjoy this world and story. I can’t wait to see how Cyra deals with her brother, how their fates pan out, and seeing more from the newer characters that were introduced later in the book. There’s also the question of Cyra’s true parentage as she was proven not to be a Novak and how Akos has Shotet blood. Also, does anyone else really dislike Akos’ mom? Or is that just me?
And that’s my review of Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth! Have you read the book? If not, do you plan to? If you have, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!
Oh and tune in again tomorrow for a special Valentine’s Day post!
Thanks for reading!