Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:
Synopsis for Carve the Mark (from Goodreads):
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.
Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth’s stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.
Series: Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronolgical
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First & Third Person
Publication Date: January 2017 – April 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover (#1); Audiobook (#2)
**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
I’ve been waiting for Roth’s next series since the end of the Divergent Trilogy years ago. While the rest of that series paled in comparison to the first book, (something I only learned in hindsight), I was eager to see what she would come up with next.
Not only was the cover for this beautiful, but it sounded like something I would no doubt enjoy. Enemies become lovers? My ultimate trope.
The Concerns Surrounding this Book
I know that there is a lot of controversy out there about this book, especially on Twitter and Goodreads. One of the problems with Twitter is the 140 character limit, so I’ll admit, I didn’t fully know the issues people were bringing up before I started to read it. I only ever caught bits of it here and there; not enough for me to fully understand what the bigger problem(s) was(were).
But at the same time, I also didn’t want to read too much into the issues either. Not that I’m ignorant of the issues, just that I wanted to be able to form my own opinion and investigate further once I finished. I didn’t want any preconceived notions before I started to read (because it is easy to find things once they are pointed out to you). Plus, I like having a full understanding of the source material prior to reading the criticisms to understand the arguments.
What I Liked:
–The Galaxy Setting–
I really enjoy science fiction stories that take place in another galaxy. I love exploring new planets and their unique attributes. I especially like that there is no place called Earth. That this is a completely different entity in terms of its world. (Could have used a little more world-building but that’s an issue for down below).
I’m sure people may disagree with me on this one, but I thought Cyra had a solid character evolution from start to finish. It isn’t the greatest development ever but you could tell by the end of the novel that she gained confidence in herself and that’s all I really want from my characters.
–Concept of Hiding in Plain Sight–
Ok, I got a few little Red Rising allusions here when Akos essentially conforms to the Shotet way of life in order to get revenge and get his brother back. It provides some anticipation for when the big betrayal is going to happen and kept my attention.
What I Didn’t Like:
–First and Third Person Narration–
There are times and genres for third person narration but for the most part, I prefer first person POV. It’s just a little easier to follow and I find it easier to connect with the characters.
In this novel, Cyra’s POV is first person and Akos’ is third person…and I’m not sure why it was that way. Obviously, I felt it easier to read Cyra’s chapters and connect more with her character. Akos just seemed so distant to me and I felt like I never knew his character the way I should have. His POV should have been first person in my opinion.
(An example of a series that does first and third person narration well is The Pledge Trilogy where our lead heroine is told in first person but multiple other characters gets POVs told in third person. The differing POVs help establish the narrative and the world as a whole I think).
–Easy to Get Lost in the Writing–
I’m not sure what it was about the writing, but I found myself missing tiny things in the narration which had big impacts on my understanding of the story.
Like a significant time change in the narration (that’s mentioned like once in the opening paragraph of a chapter); or understanding exactly WHAT the various current gifts are. As I said above, the world-building could have been stronger. Yes, we do get a glossary but it really only highlighted the “bigger” things and not the inner workings of the world.
–Very Slow Plot–
At the halfway point of the novel, I could count the number of important “events” that moved the story forward on one hand. It wasn’t a lot. You could have easily cut this books size in half and had a much stronger, fuller story.
Because we do get some exciting twists within the last few chapters of the novel that set up for the sequel beautifully. I just think a lot of people will lose interest wayyy before than.
My Final Thoughts on Issues Raised by Other Readers:
After reading the novel, I read arguments from “both sides” and I understand what both are saying.
I’m a firm believer that we should let fiction be fiction. Fiction is a medium used to explore things we can’t always explore in reality. But my favourite aspect about it is its ability to start a conversation; as this novel obviously has.
I know that for some people, the ideas present here are their reality; and I know that for others, they won’t see that reality because it doesn’t pertain to their life. Reading is such a personal experience that everyone reads (and interprets) something differently. And it’s ok that we do; so long as we can have healthy conversations and respect those differences of opinion in a civil way. Debate is healthy, it’s how change comes about. I’m glad this novel is bring conversations about diversity to the surface and I hope we can learn from it.
My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:
I’m curious to see how the next novel will unfold. I think there were enough things introduced in the final chapters to keep my interest in picking up the sequel.
–January 16, 2020– Book #2: The Fates Divide
Because it had been so long since I read the inaugural book, I decided to try the audiobook for this finale. And I
think know that might have impacted my overall enjoyment for this book but I don’t believe my review would be any higher than it currently is if I had stuck with the hardcover.
Basically, my issues with the first novel came back to bite me. I struggled with the narration between first and third person this time again–and it didn’t help we had two additional POVs told in first person to keep track of. I was getting so lost–which didn’t help the fact that I found Roth’s writing style to still be hard to understand at times.
But I think my biggest disappointment was the underwhelming plot. I think this book tried to take on too much on a “meta” level and the drama got pushed to the side as a result. Not a lot is happening except characters lamenting the past. There were a few good twists but they were too far between to have an impact on my enjoyment.
My Rating: 3/5
Carve the Mark 3/5 | The Fates Divide 2/5
I was hoping for a Divergent type of read; instead, we got Allegiant. A lot of talking and not as much action. And when it came to the finale, it just couldn’t hold my attention.
Read if You Like: slower stories, science fiction
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance-focus