Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth is the first in a new series by the author of Divergent. I was filled with trepidation about purchasing and reading because although I enjoyed the Divergent series, it isn’t my forever favourite. However, I must I really enjoyed Carve the Mark.
The novel is set in a made up Galaxy and the people on the different planets in their solar system, get ‘currentgifts’ from a current which runs through space. These can be anything from the revered ‘oracle’ gift to one of the main protagonist’s ‘gift’ which is to constantly feel pain and be able to force that pain onto others. This makes Cyra (her name), a tool for her evil brother Ryzek.
Akos meanwhile is dragged from his home in Thuve by Cyra’s brother’s soldiers and taken to the Shotet side of the planet. Here he is enslaved by Cyra’s family the Noaveks. What follows is a story of love, travel and war.
I never read other people’s reviews before reading a book because I don’t like to be led and no matter how hard I try you can guarantee that I am! I do however take a glance at them before I review, just to get a feel for what people are saying. I was really surprised considering how much I enjoyed Carve the Mark to see that people are branding this novel as ableist and racist!!
I really did not take any of that from this book. Seriously, the thought never crossed my mind. This book is a make believe story. It a YA fantasy story and I must stress again that it is made up. Yes there are tensions between the races on the planet. Two different races battling it out for control over one planet. But never once (to my memory) did I see anybody’s skin colour described as white, black, brown, blue or pink. Personally I don’t feel that referring to the Thuve’s as being capable of blushing means that they are white. Neither do I see the fact that Cyra’s mother having tight curls in her hair as a definite confirmation that she is black. To be quite honest the thought never crossed my mind at all. I apologise if anyone has read/watched an interview where Veronica Roth has confirmed the skin colour of any of the novel’s characters, but I read for pleasure and don’t spend valuable reading time disecting the meanings in books by watching loads of interviews to make my point.
For me, even if the Thuve’s were white and the Shotet black I don’t feel that either of them were represented in an unequal way.
Negative traits of the Shotet people: some are violent (namely the sovereign family and their soldiers only), they Carve kill marks into their skin (these are mostly done to mark loss and also this is more tribal and cultural than race related in my opinion), hmmm that’s it, can’t think of any other way in which they’re described as having negative traits. Note also that only the Thuves view these as negative traits.
Negative traits of the Thuve people: thin skinned, weak, essentially drug addicts as they take a lot of hushflower, if you ask me pretty shifty as well. Really don’t trust those oracles. But again much of this is only what the Shotet people view as negatives.
What made this novel for me, is that despite the perceived views of the people and their respective races, Cyra and Akos are there to defy these stereotypes. Cyra who can cause great pain, goes against the perceived view of being a violent Shotet and instead becomes gentle and kind while retaining her inner strength. Akos who could be perceived as nothing but a weak and snivelling Thuvian instead becomes strong and fearless while retaining his gentle interior. My point being that they take their stereotypes, their perceived negative traits and make them good.
I’m sorry that in the end this review became more of a rant about the misconceptions of this novel. I really don’t want other people’s reviews to put people off reading this fascinating, engrossing first part of what is set to be a fantastic series.
And please remember that stories are just that. Stories.