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.
The 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?
Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.
Veronica Roth takes us up in space in her second series which is a mix of sci-fi and fantasy. I am more of a fantasy reader than a sci-fi reader. Talks of space wars and space ships and all other science-y terms associated with it just doesn’t appeal to me that much. But I know what Star Wars is and I wouldn’t compare this book to it. This was set in outer space and there has been some travelling from one planet to another but that’s all there is for the sci-fi side. The rest is fantasy.
“Soft hearts make the universe worth living in.”
The story follows two different perspectives —Akos’ and Cyra’s. They’re both living in the same planet but they’re in different sides of two warring groups of people fighting for control over the planet. Cyra is Shotet, born in house Noavik —the most powerfull name among the Shotets. With a tyrant for a brother who uses her as a tool for torture, Cyra had her fill on violence at a young age. Akos, on the other hand, is a Thuvesit raised in a gentle home by loving parents. But when he and his brother Eijeh were taken prisoner by the Shotet, Akos was forced to toughen up and be a fighter in order to rescue his brother.
“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.”
The character development was good, at least for the main ones. The reversal of gender role was most refreshing in this book. Akos was the gentle heart whose skill is in making potions while Cyra is the stronger and more skilled in fighting between the two. I always want to see my characters growing constantly throughout the book and that’s exactly what I saw in Akos and Cyra. They were placed in a lot of dangerous situations and I love how they worked to get through it.
While I love the main characters, the side characters just fell flat. They didn’t really pulled me into their lives or into their world. They weren’t properly fleshed-out, which is sad, because a lot of these side characters already have this interesting air in them just waiting to be developed into something more. Instead, they were merely placed in the background so it didn’t feel like I’ve really known them. There were deaths that’s supposed to be heartbreaking. It’s like those dying characters were asking me to care for them but I just don’t. If I didn’t know them enough, I couldn’t care enough.
The world building is a bit vague. There was too little detail about Thuve or the other planets. It says that one planet is made mainly of water and another is made of sand. If this book wants to impress me it has to do a lot better than that. These planets are somehow connected through this powerful force called the Current. That’s also where everybody got their gifts but it wasn’t really explained how they get it. How does the Current determine what gift goes to whom? How do they come into possession of gifts? Do they inherit it from their parents or does it really just pops out of nowhere? Aside from the Currentgifts, few people also have fates, and unlike the gifts their fates were fixed and inescapable. But really, the fates only look like prophecies meant to put some pressure on the fated characters.
Carve the Mark is one that is surrounded by controversy because of how the author describes Thuvesits (pictured as peaceful people with thin pale skin) and Shotet (pictured as invaders with warm brown skin). I didn’t notice this at first because in my head I always mold the characters the way I want them to look like regardless of how they were described in the book. However, I don’t think Roth meant for this to come out as racist. The Shotets, though described as fierce warriors aren’t all heartless bad people. In fact, there’s a whole lot of them who’s rallying to end Ryzek’s reign of violence. Ryzek himself was described as someone “pale as a corpse”, and he is the Shotet sovereign. The Thuvesits on the other hand weren’t all saints. Akos’ mother is proof to that. While she appears loving and gentle, she clearly cannot be trusted. She lies, she’s manipulative, she even sacrificed the lives of those dear to her just so her prefered future will be the one to arise.
Overall, this is not a great book but it’s not a terrible book either. There were parts where everything was just slow and uneventful but there were also good parts that keep you turning pages. There were huge secrets revealed towards the end of the book that only lead to even more questions. I’m a curious reader by default so I still might read the next installment to get some answers though I don’t think it would be a priority.