Carve the Mark Book Review

“How do you keep doing this? Keep going when everything is so horrible?”

“Find another reason to go on. It doesn’t have to be a good one, or a noble one. It just has to be a reason.”

I purchased Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth on July 14th, 2018. And it sat on my bookshelf, until I moved from Kansas City to Houston. Before the move, I set aside a pile of books I wanted to read before I got settled in a new apartment. Carve the Mark was one of them.

It’s funny, how long that book watched me live my life while I had no idea how important it would become to me. And yet I think I read it just when I needed to. I spent the last few weeks devouring this book, and its sequel The Fates Divide. Now, $40 in obscure book merch later, I’m left to think about all the reasons why these books made such an impact on me.

• Genre

I love science fiction, and I love fantasy, but my favorite genre is a combination of the two. Roth perfectly intertwines spaceships and advanced technology with magical elements that closely tie in with the spirituality of some of the cultures within the book. It was very reminiscent of Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl, a book I’ve loved since I was a child. I must say, if science fantasy is the next wave of YA fiction, I can just start saying goodbye to my money now.

• Chronic Pain Representation

Cyra, one of the central characters in the story, suffers from chronic pain and it was quite refreshing to see this done so well in a piece of fiction. Although Roth received an in my opinion unfair amount of criticism for this, I thought she did a wonderful job in her portrayal. Reading about a character who wasn’t healthy – and yet still found a way to live her life and fight against oppression – meant a lot to me.

• The Currentgifts

A large portion of the fantasy elements in Carve the Mark are the “currentgifts” that characters possess. These are individual powers, ranging from mind control to the inability to feel pain. One of the characters, Cisi, who narrates much of The Fates Divide has a currentgift that won’t allow her to speak aloud anything that would make those around her uncomfortable. She also possesses the ability to project feelings of peace to people in close proximity. Because I’m basic, I took an online quiz to see what my currentgift would be; I got Cisi’s. Shocking, I know. #EnneagramNineProbs

• Worldbuilding

I easily get overwhelmed by sci-fi/fantasy books that have very expansive worlds with huge overarching plots. Don’t hate me, but it’s why I never really connected a lot with Lord of the Rings. Somehow, Roth was able to build a world that consisted of a collection of planets, several different cultures, and a plot that involved a lot of politics and “big picture” maneuvers – without completely loosing me. I think she was so effective in this because no matter what was happening with the plot, she always stayed grounded in very well developed characters. Speaking of which…

• Characters

The two central narrators, Akos and Cyra, were written so well. I loved that they weren’t your typical “heroic” types – in fact, they’re really drastically flawed people. But they aren’t the only characters who carry the story; every single supporting character felt like a whole person. They weren’t just part of the book to carry out some portion of the plot. They were their own people, and made these books so rich with their chorus of voices.

If you’ve read these books and want to have a two hour conversation with me, hit me up. And if you haven’t read these books, please do. So that we can have a two hour conversation.

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