Veronica Roth, the best-selling author who brought us the Divergent series, has a new Young Adult Science Fiction novel published in January 2017 by Harper Collins called Carve The Mark – the first book of a duology.
“I am Shotet. I am sharp as broken glass, and just as fragile. I tell lies better than I tell truths. I see all of the galaxy and never catch a glimpse of it” page 226
“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 Thuvhe, 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.”
Character development was good. The main characters Akos and Cyra had a goal, their motivation was clear, and they both struggle with internal/external conflict. I felt connected to them. Akos is Thuvhe, living in Hessa with his mother Sifa, father Aoseh, younger brother Eijeh, and older sister Cisi. Cyra Noavek is Shotet, living with her brother Ryzek who is ten years older than her. I would have liked more of a character development arc.
The currentgifts were interesting, reminded me of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children. For example, Akos’s mother Sifa is an oracle who can see the future, Cyra’s currentgift causes you pain if you touch her – or if she touches you. Akos’s currentgift is that he can interrupt the “current” – which means he can take way other people’s currentgift. There are also a handful of people who have “fates”. Akos’s fate is to die in service to the family Noavek. His brother Eijeh’s fate is to the future of the galaxy.
I love lots of setting description, and feel like Carve The Mark needed a bit more world-building. I’d like to know even more about the place, their situation. I needed a little more detail to help transport me to their world. In particular I would have liked to know more about “The Assembly” – who are they, what are their goals and motivations?
Shotet warriors attack Akos’s family, killing Akos’s father, and capturing Akos with his brother Eijeh. Ryzek, the leader of the Shotet, has big plans for Akos and Eijeh. Cyra wants no part of her brother’s evil plans, so she strikes up a deal with Akos – he would teach her how to make painkiller potion, and she will teach him how to fight, so he can help his brother Eijeh escape.
There were lots of conflicts, risks, danger. I didn’t have a moment where “all is lost” though, and the climax wasn’t quite as dramatic as I like. I think that may be because I never felt like Akos or Cyra were in any real danger, I didn’t fear for their lives.
I enjoyed the symbolism of “carving the mark”, such as the Shotet carve marks into their skin when they take a life, and Cyra carved marks into the tunnels so she would know her way.
You may have heard about racism allegations concerning Carve The Mark. I’ve read reviews from both sides, and after reading the book I would have to disagree with these allegations. For more on that, read the author’s blog post http://theartofnotwriting.tumblr.com/post/157313294397/question-what-do-you-say-to-allegations-of-racism
The few downfalls for this novel may be fixed in the second – however, I’m really disliking the idea that publishers keep putting out series when they could have put it all in one complete book.
For more info about the author’s work visit http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.ca/