Hey, all, it’s Alexa! So, I’ve been wanting to read more mainstream/popular books lately (try and see what all the fuss is about ?), and this happened to be the first one I could get my hands on: from Divergent author Veronica Roth, this week’s book is Carve the Mark.
(Also, warning, there are more spoilers than usual in this review. Nothing huge, but some character development stuff that I wanted to explain. 🙂 )
Description from Carve The Mark Website:
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
The plot is my favorite part of the book. It’s kind of loose, in the sense that there isn’t a straightforward goal or sequence of events until about halfway through book, but the story itself still interested me. Even though the characters didn’t know it, lol, they had to end up headed somewhere, and I was intrigued enough by the concept and the world to want to discover where.
Unfortunately, though, in the end, I didn’t love it. There were some epic moments, some exciting moments, even some cute moments that were enjoyable enough to read; but without a real connection to the characters (which I’ll talk about later), I had a lot of trouble getting into all that was going on.
Plot: 3 stars out of 5.
When the book began, I really liked Akos. I related to his introspective, “nice” character, and I was interested in learning more about this contemplative young boy whose fate seemed destined to help define his world. But then the POVs switched to Cyra for a hundred and fifty pages, and by the time we switched back, my connection to Akos was lost. Understandably, he wasn’t the same child who had started the book, but I also couldn’t figure out a way to reconcile the two: the intriguing and not-quite-adorable child I wanted to spend more time with and the brooding teenage version who, while he did have feelings, goals, flaws, complicated desires, and all those wonderful things that make great characters, for some reason, felt more like a presence than a person to me.
Personally, I think the POV switched too quickly and too long for this story: I had only begun to build my connection with Akos when I had to switch to Cyra, and then it was years in the story’s time before I could return to Akos’ mind. By then, I just… didn’t know him anymore and, for me, it felt too late.
As far as Cyra, she was absolutely a person—whom I, unfortunately, could not like. I accept that this might be insensitive, but it seemed to me that she spent most of the book cowering under her brother’s hold when she had a clear out and multiple opportunities to use it. She allowed herself to be controlled and allowed others to suffer for it, all the while loitering in shame and self-pity that, I think, was supposed to make her seem noble. It just… didn’t work for me. Hard as it would’ve been, sad as her situation she was, she could’ve stood up to Ryzek and fought her way out far earlier than she chose to, and far fewer people would’ve suffered for her actions. At one point, even she says as much (that Ryzek only controlled her because she let him), so perhaps she was never meant to be seen as a “hero.” Maybe she was meant to be a flawed personality, just keeping her mask up, keeping her head down, and focusing solely on her own survival in a cruel world she imagined she was helpless in. If so, that came across perfectly—but it did not work for me.
To be fair, there does come a time when she FINALLY chooses to fight back. But, again, for my feelings, it was too late. I appreciate that she rose up in the end, and I somewhat respect her for that choice. But I still spent too many pages with her whining about being a monster to actually like her character.
Characters: 2 stars out of 5.
The setting of this book is quite fleshed out—perhaps a little too much so. While it’s definitely vivid, and I normally love that, some of it was confusing to me, and there were a lot of small but unnecessary drops of extra info: either things were repeated when they didn’t need to be or the info simply wasn’t relevant to the moment. So, while the writing was fair overall, those little tangents often distracted from what was going on and slowed the story down.
Writing Style/Setting: 3 stars out of 5.
And so, we come in at not-quite 3 stars out of 5. All-in-all, this isn’t a bad book, probably worth 3 ½ to 4 stars if I’m being completely objective. But reviewing is subjective to my enjoyment, and I didn’t particularly enjoy this. However, if you’d like to try it out for yourself, you can check it out on Amazon for $16.39. If so, I hope you enjoy it much more than I did, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. ?
So, have you read Carve the Mark? What’d you think about it? Tell me about a popular book you’ve checked out lately. Can’t wait to hear from you, and I’ll see you in the comment section!
~ Love, Alexa ❤
Notes: Content Warning: intense violence and some cursing.