Review | Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Title | Carve the Mark
Author | Veronica Roth
Series | Carve the Mark, #1
Page | 480
Publisher | HarperCollins
Genre | YA Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Release Date | January 17, 2017

In a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

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.

Then 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?

Despite the fact I read this book in its entirety several months ago, a large part of me has refrained from writing any type of review about it. The book in question, is Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark and my opinion is not one of which the publisher would favour. Yet it has not been the disappointment of the book that has prolonged my willingness to discuss Carve the Mark – instead it has been the topical issues that have arisen from the story, and my long, burning hatred of ever disfavouring a book.

Soft hearts make the universe worth living in.

Veronica Roth is a name known quite well among the young adult world of fiction, as she is the woman single-handedly responsible for the Divergent series – a popular book collection that has made millions of dollars at the box office. So when an email was causally dropped into folder about a year ago, offering me the chance to meet said author over Skype and receive an ARC copy of her latest fiction, I was more than surprised. Little old me, who has little influence in the reading world, would get to see a woman whose books founded my glimmer of hope for dystopian fiction.

I honestly don’t like giving books a bad review. I love to find the little rays of sunshine in each and every novel. And sure, they are a few good things here – but I could not shake the overwhelming feeling that Carve the Mark had been rushed through its drafting stages, with somebody at the publishing house turning a blind-eye to the criticism the book could find itself in.

I am a 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.

Firstly, the book was set in out of space. The whole space, science-fiction area is something I tend to keep the hell away from because I never seem to understand any of the references or story plots depicted in space. I’m simply not a space person. But I wasn’t going to let that sway me – because that was a personal problem and not one that lies with the author. But in a lot of reviews I’ve read about the book, I think people are quick to judge Roth for venturing into the space genre. I acknowledged that this was a new genre for her to write about, and so there were bound to be a few bumps in the road in that sense.

“Pain had a way of breaking time down. I thought about the next minute, the next hour. There wasn’t enough space in my mind to put all those pieces together, to find words to summarize the whole of it. But the “keep going” part, I knew the words for.

“Find another reason to go on,” I said. “It doesn’t have to be a good one, or a noble one. It just has to be a reason.” 

One issue I found, was that in terms of pacing, the story was incredibly slow to get to the point of even any interest for me. This could be down to the fact, as I mentioned, it’s heavily based around the idea of being in space. I just didn’t seem to find myself immersed in the world like I would have originally hoped when first hearing about the book. And that in itself is a terrible shame.

However, there is a very problem with this book, and it’s one that should have been picked up during the drafting of the story. I’ve noticed in the endless negative reviews of this book, that people are just not happy with the way race and culture has been portrayed in the book and I would personally have to agree. As a science-fiction novel, there are always going to be some issues in portraying different races but keeping them without any discrimination. There are some points in this book where I just literally wanted to give up because I couldn’t deal. The romanticising of chronic pain was something that put me on edge as well. Having grown up surrounded by family who suffered with chronic pain, this book just seemed to do that absolutely no justice. I’m aware this whole criticism is quite heavy, so I’m avoiding from putting any genuine feeling into it to distance myself. I read the book a long time ago and any anger I had has since faded.

“You want to see people as extremes. Bad or good, trustworthy or not. I understand. It’s easier that way. But that isn’t how people work.”

Carve the Mark is sadly not a book I would recommend. There was a brilliant romance to it, but the book should have been considered a little bit more before being released to the public. There are things in the story that are bound to cause criticism and discomfort to certain people, and had these been picked up on earlier, the book could have been a lot better. There was no good pacing to the story and there are just so many problems with the book as a whole.

Alternatively, here are a few fresh perspectives on the book:

The YA Drama Llama says “Anyway, despite being majorly inconvenienced by this entire novel, I did find semi-enjoyment in it when it came to the world and the descriptions.”

Mika @ Mxcareyes says “To be honest, this book could’ve been an interesting and enjoyable read if it didn’t lack some things and contain unimportant scene fillers.”

Kendall @ The Geeky Yogi says “I’ll definitely be reading the second book when it comes out.”