Title: Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
Pub. Date: January 17, 2017
Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth have grown up in enemy countries locked in a long-standing fight for dominance over their shared planet. When Akos and his brother are kidnapped by the ruling Noavek family, Akos is forced to serve Cyra, the sister of a dictator who governs with violence and fear. Cyra is known for her deadly power of transferring extraordinary pain unto others with simple touch, and her tyrant brother uses her as a weapon against those who challenge him. But as Akos fights for his own survival, he recognizes that Cyra is also fighting for hers, and that her true gift—resilience—might be what saves them both.
When Akos and Cyra are caught in the middle of a raging rebellion, everything they’ve been led to believe about their world and themselves must be called into question. But fighting for what’s right might mean betraying their countries, their families, and each other.
When the time comes, will they choose loyalty or love?
*I’m going to start this review with a disclaimer, because I know a lot of people had issues with this book. This review is my opinion, my thoughts, my reaction. It may not align with yours, and that’s okay. There are so many books to read, and not everyone is going to agree or disagree in the same ways. I really enjoyed this book, and am genuinely excited for The Fates Divide.
I’ve had this book since it came out a little over a year ago, and I tried reading it a bunch of times, but I couldn’t get into it.
The beginning is a bit slow, and I always found it weird that the first part of the novel focused on actual children and not teens or young adults.
I’m so glad I chose to listen to the Audible Audiobook for Carve the Mark because it made a world of difference. I’m actually contemplating on whether or not to listen to the second one as well – we will see.
I understand why the beginning was slow, it set up the world, the characters, and gave backstory that was needed to understand the characters as they got older. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the book as much if the backstory had been told in flashbacks. For as slow as the beginning was, it was crucial in my opinion.
The world Veronica created was interesting and rich, and amazing. The different worlds she created, bathed in water, so scorching hot you can’t walk on the surface without protective gear, bathed in shadows, freezing cold – with the Current running between and connecting them all together, my sci-fi loving heart was very pleased. I loved how the Current was viewed differently on each planet. The idea of a Current Gift appearing when one comes of age is pretty cool, and I wonder what mine would be…maybe the ability to stay focused, or I don’t know. The Oracles were interesting as well.
I don’t know if I’d want to be fated or not. Knowing the end isn’t always a good thing, but knowing the end *could* take the stress out of it as well. Nah, I think I’d rather not know. Knowing me, I’d be stressing regardless of what my fate would be.
This book takes place mostly on the Planet Thuhve, covered in ice, always cold. The Thuhvians are acknowledged by the other planets as legitimate, while the other settlement on the planet, the Shotet, aren’t seen as legitimate. This is only one of many reasons Thuhve and Shotet don’t get along.
Now onto the characters. We have Akos (Thuhvian) Cyra, and Ryzek (Shotet), with a handful of others, but I’m just going to focus on these three. They are all Fated, and their fates are tangled around each other.
Let’s start with Ryzek. I hated him. He made me so angry. He was evil just to be evil. Yeah he had a hard childhood, but he dealt with it all wrong. Trading bad memories with good ones so you can’t feel pain, ugh.
I hated him. But damn, I loved how much I hated him, because that speaks volumes of the writing that made me hate him so viscerally. I listened to this book while at work, and he had me seething. He was horrible to everyone, lording his sister’s painful touch over everyone, no one daring to step out of line, in fear of their lives.
And that brings me to Cyra. I felt so bad for her. Her brother utterly wrecked her childhood and her innocence and didn’t even care. He just wanted to feel better about himself, and left Cyra in pain. Every bad thing that Cyra goes through is directly linked to Ryzek, and he doesn’t care.
Cyra wasn’t the monster that everyone feared her to be. She just wanted to be free. Free of pain, free of her crazy, pain fearing, domineering brother, free of the life that had been forced upon her. Unable to touch anyone because her touch brings pain, she’s left only being able to touch Ryzek’s right hand man, Vas, who can’t feel pain, and who isn’t exactly a good guy. Cyra doesn’t have a lot of options, and the pain she feels is almost always too much for her to bear.
Then Akos joined her life, and suddenly she doesn’t have to feel pain. Akos’s gift allows him to interrupt the Current Gift of others, which allows Cyra’s to fall silent, for her not to feel any pain. It starts out tentative – their relationship, but they soon both realized that they have more in common than they thought, that they are pretty similar, both prisoners to Ryzek.
Akos was so interesting, because no matter what was thrown at him, no matter what he went through, no matter how many times he was beaten, he remained standing. He remained unbroken, strong, willing to fight. He’s human, so he’s not perfect, and he had weak moments when he wanted to stop fighting, wanted to give up, but ultimately he never did. He faced everything head on, he excelled where people thought he would succumb and fail. He proved to everyone and himself, that people from Thuhve aren’t these thin skinned weaklings.
Cyra starts changing, becoming her own person, rather than a pawn for Ryzek to use at will.
Working together Cyra and Akos start making waves, making change, falling in love, and rattling the safety net that Ryzek had built around himself. Teaming up with rebels, they take on Ryzek and his cronies, and in the end, they succeed in their current mission.
Book two follows Cyra and Akos while they figure out what they are to each other, and figure out what to do next, because a tyrant everyone thought to be dead, has come back and war is on the horizon getting ready to explode. They will figure out how exactly their fates intwine, and what it will take to live in this new world.
I think this book pushed at perceptions, lighting up the fact that our perceptions of people aren’t 100% accurate, that people are more than just where they come from, or what they look like. But here you have two characters, from vastly different lives, who are so similar who have fallen in love, and the world didn’t end. But both had preconceived notions of people from their respective homes.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and thought it was rich and enticing, and I’m excited for book 2!