Title: Carve the Mark

Author: Veronica Roth

Series Number: 1

Publication Date: January 17, 2017

Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction

Where I received the book: I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins NZ to review.

Summary: 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.

** before i start this review, i would like to point out some problems people have found with carve the mark in terms of racism and ableism. here’s a post by justina ireland explaining the racist aspects of the book, as well as a good post by sarah @ written word worlds, here. an interview by veronica roth, here, she describes chronic pain as a gift. a twitter thread, here and here, explains why this is a problem. (note: veronica roth has said that she suffers from chronic pain)**

i’ve heard very mixed things about this book all over twitter and goodreads. i didn’t know what to expect while reading this book. even after finishing it, i’m still rather confused how i felt.

the first 100 or so pages were really boring and confusing. there was quite a lot of info dumping, but i couldn’t make sense of it. it was like all this random information was being thrown in my face. the plot itself doesn’t get interesting till near the end. i think it would’ve been better with more world building. it’s set in space, among these planets, but i kept thinking of it as a medieval fantasy type setting. we know there’s spaceships and the like but i didn’t feel like there was much to the place. it felt quite flat.

i’ll admit, there were some twists and turns that i didn’t see coming, but that was mostly towards the end.

if it weren’t for akos and cyra i don’t think i would’ve finished the book. they were such amazing characters. i related to both of them for different reasons and actually felt for them. i didn’t particularly like akos at first but he really did grow on me over the course of the book. and i loved cyra from the first page.

i quite enjoyed that the “bad guy”, ryzek, couldn’t deal with killing people (or hurting?). it made him very real. just because someone is bad doesn’t mean they can do anything. they have faults, and that might even be killing others.

kinda along those same lines, i know this is a young adult book and all, but i really enjoyed the brutality of it. the use of torture felt so realistic. i mean, yes it’s disgusting that someone could do that to another.

although, aside from the racism/ableism pointed out above, one thing i really didn’t like was the casual use of self harm. the book is named after it! carve the mark, the mark that represents the person you’ve just killed, into your skin. couldn’t the shotet have used tattoos or something? cutting yourself shouldn’t be a glorified way of keeping track of how many people you’ve killed, fiction or not.

i’ve decided not to rate this book as i can’t specifically figure out how i’d like to rate it. there were plenty of reasons to rate it 1*, but i did also enjoy it. while reading carve the mark, i was getting major ember in the ashes feels through both plot and characters.

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