My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Carve the Mark is a science-fiction novel told from two different perspectives. Akos is from Thuvhe, the ruling half of the planet and Cyra is from Shotet, the half that longs to be recognized in the system as legitimate and take Thuvhe’s place. At some point as the people of the system make the journey from adolescence to adulthood, they come into abilities. Cyra’s harnesses the current, which feeds and surrounds everything but it causes her and anyone she touches unbearable agony. Akos is like her counter-balance since he can disrupt the current. This means it doesn’t harm him to touch Cyra and he is able to dampen her pain. Although they are from the same planet they were raised in two very different worlds until Akos is kidnapped and thrust into a culture of people he doesn’t understand. Despite what the Shotet put him through, he is still capable of being curious and kind.
It is a wonderful example of history being written by the victors. We don’t know exactly what happened, but each party has a different story. Each side is at fault in some fashion and the Thuvhesit people are not as guiltless as they proclaim.
Akos immediately was my favourite character and continued to be throughout the novel. He is likable and cares deeply for his family. While he has to reason to treat Cyra with kindness when they first meet, he takes the time to get to know her. Initially, I did not care much for Cyra but as her character grew and developed I liked her more. She learned that she did not have to be defined by those who raised her and had the ability to change.
It only took a few chapters before I was completely engrossed in the book. There are a few aspects that could have been improved in the book. The author seems to be a lover of the comma. As a writer who personally overuses it myself (and am trying to get better about), I noticed that so many of her sentences had numerous commas. It made parts of the text more difficult to read and complex than the needed to be. The other odd writing choice I noticed was her choice of point of view. She switched between Cyra and Akos’ perspectives, which is not unusual – but she used the first person for Cyra and the third person for Akos. That was a different choice than what I’d experienced in books before and I’m not entirely sure if I enjoyed it.
The world we find ourselves exploring is vividly and beautifully described from the icy cities of Thuvhe to the watery Pithe, the vast reaches of space, and the ever-changing coloured current that binds it all together. While we are not given the opportunity to explore all 9 planets of the Assembly and the smaller bodies, I hope that we shall see more of them in future novels. Each culture and people we encounter is so unique and fascinating to explore more of.
Highly recommended to young adult/teen readers who enjoy science fiction books. I enjoyed that the title of the book was really meaningful to the overall narrative and journey that the characters go on. The book was wrapped up in a way that leaves you satisfied for now, but always wondering what comes next. It is another great series start for Veronica Roth and I can’t wait to see where she takes us.