Saturday, January 14, 2017

CARVE THE MARK BY VERONICA ROTH - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is the highly, HIGHLY anticipated new novel from Veronica Roth, Carve the Mark. Thanks so much to HarperCollins for sending me this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


Going into this book, I had some concerns. Firstly, I was worried as to whether or not Roth would be able to follow her previous series after it blew up so enormously. I think it is difficult to write something new when you are known as "the bestselling author of x." Things get compared without merit and assumptions are made. But I think Roth did a great job of not only writing a good book that can stand on its own, not shadowed by the Divergent legacy but also a book that was really well done. I could really tell how much Roth has grown as a writer and how she is able to tell a story much different than her debut.

The story itself follows two characters, Akos and Cyra. Akos is a Thuvhe, a peaceful group of people on the planet. His mother is an oracle, sharing the fates of the fate-favoured with other oracles. Those who are fate-favoured have a currentgift - basically an ability that stems from the current, a power that is found in all things. Akos's gift is that he can interrupt the current. His chapters are told in a third-person POV, beginning at his time in Thuvhe and then later when he is kidnapped and brought to Shotet with his brother. The other POV we get is Cyra's. She is a Shotet noble, the daughter of the unofficial sovereign nation's leader. Her currentgift manifests itself as having the ability to cause and hold pain, either within herself or on whoever she puts it. After he is kidnapped, Akos is Cyra's servant, used to reduce her pain.

There is a lot of things going on in the book, after the death of Cyra's father, her brother Ryzek takes control. Controversies between the nations on the planet crop up and Cyra is forced to do her brother's bidding. I won't go into too many details as to what happens because that would spoil the book.

Before I go any further with my review, I want to talk about a key element that a lot of other people are mentioning in this book, and that is racism. Now, going into the book, I had heard this would be an issue, so I was hyper-aware. I analyzed comments, looked at the way people were treated, etc. And I don't really think you can call this book racist. Before you get the pitchforks, let me explain. There are two nations on the planet. They have been fighting for years. It started because one group wanted to hold power over the other - something that might be the beginnings of racial tensions. But the other group was strong and not willing to give in. They both fought back. Even in the time the story takes place, both nations are fighting each other. You need to give a little room for hate between nations. That doesn't mean racism, that means a differing of opinions. I don't think you can point out one person, or group of people who is severely against the other - they are equally matched in that regard. There is some reference to skin colour in the book, as to who the Shotet nation are and who the Thuvhe people are, but it was so fleeting I didn't really take notice. I think there is definitely some racial tension, and a division between the groups, but I really don't know if I would say it is outright racism. It's just two cultures, both equally good and bad for different reasons. However, these are just MY personal opinions, feel free to disagree with me, but this is just what I thought.

Ok, moving on to some things I didn't love about this book, the world building. I think the creation of new words and concepts was really interesting, and I liked the concept of the current, but in terms of this book being set in space, I thought it was a little lacking. I kept forgetting that aspect, I felt like there was just a bunch of outsider planets that could have been brought into the story a bit more. The characters go to one other planet, but I felt like it was just another day on land. I think this aspect could have been played with a bit more.

I was also really bummed with the romance between Cyra and Akos. I figured it would happen eventually, so I was prepared, but at the same time, it was just like someone flipped a switch and they decided they liked each other. I wouldn't even call it insta-love because they didn't realize it until like 200 pages in. I was hoping for Tris and Four chemistry, but I just got a 'oh well we spend a lot of time together, I guess I like you.' And that kinda ruined everything the characters did out of 'love' for one another.

This book did take a bit to get into, I didn't really care for Akos POV as much as I did Cyra's, but the story starts off with him, so just keep going until you get to Cyra. I think part of it might be that Akos is in third person and Cyra is in first, making her a little more relatable.

I did really like the overall darkness and the tone of this book. There were a lot of things I wasn't expecting but really enjoyed. Cyra is portrayed to the public as this evil villain who will kill you in a minute, but she is so much more fragile on the inside. But there is a darkness in the Shotet society that was reminiscent of The Young Elites. For each life a Shotet takes, they carve a line in their arm, recognizing that lost life. There is a brutality to killing, but then the marking gives a human-like quality to these supposed killers.

I also liked the fact that the typical gender roles were reversed. Akos was gentler, and Cyra was more aggressive. Akos was skilled in medicines and poison (going back to Shakespearean times, a woman's weapon) and Cyra is skilled with fighting.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I think it will genuinely surprise a lot of people.