In Veronica Roth’s latest novel, we are taken to a dystopian galaxy, powered by the ‘current’ – a mysterious force powering everything in the planet system. We meet Cyra, the sister of the ruler of Shotet, a nation on the planet of Thuvhe. Her ‘currentgift’, a unique ability caused by the current flowing through her, means that she suffers from chronic pain and can in turn cause pain to others through touch. Her reputation causes the citizens of Shotet to fear her, and they don’t see her for who she truly is. Everything changes the day she meets Akos Kereseth, from the nation of Thuvhe, enemies of the Shotet people. At first, they think they couldn’t be more different, but as they begin to get to know each other, they realise stereotypes mean nothing when you have to survive…
After reading and watching the Divergent series, I was eager to read Carve the Mark when it was released earlier this year. Like Divergent, the book is quite long, meaning it took me a while to read it, delaying the posting of this review. Like Tris, Cyra and Akos are inspirational lead characters who stand up for what they believe in. The way that Cyra shows strength – even when in pain, and continues regardless – is particularly motivating.
Whilst the universe Roth has created is vividly described (making it feel more realistic), I think that it is possibly a little over complicated. What I liked about Divergent was the simplicity of the Faction idea, but in Carve the Mark the unusual language meant I quickly forgot the meanings of various terms and characters’ names as they were introduced. The book lacked pace at some points in the book, leaving me wanting more of the action scenes that happen towards the end of the novel. The end of the book is left very open, so I believe there will be a series.
I feel that it is important in this review to address some of the controversial issues in this book that have caused it to receive criticism. Firstly, some of the language and descriptions of the characters create racist stereotypes, while calling Cyra’s chronic pain a ‘gift’ is wrong. Secondly, some of the traditions of the Shotet people – including the Sojourn (pilgrimage) and the ‘kill marks’ ( a way of marking the skin which has been compared to self-harm) – have caused widespread disapproval. I won’t discuss them in detail here, but many articles address the topics I have mentioned.
Have you read Carve the Mark? What did you think? Please leave a comment!