Title – Carve the Mark
Author – Veronica Roth
Publisher – Katherine Tegen Books
Genre – Young Adult, Science Fiction
My Rating – 4/5
In a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.
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 the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
Then Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?
Even though I wasn’t quite encouraged to read another Veronica Roth after Allegiant, I decided to give Carve the Mark a shot and found that I enjoyed it quite a lot more than the Divergent series. The female protagonist Cyra, despite carrying the cliche of hiding unbearable pain, is actually quite interesting and one of the few female leads that I enjoyed reading about.
One of the most notable points of interest for me was Akos’ loyalty to his brother. While so many books follow the theme of acts of heroism in the name of love, it was refreshing to see the bond between siblings honored for once.
The plot did feel a little stretched at some points due to the sheer volume of sub-plots and characters but overall, it is a great read. I felt a need to know what would happen all through the book and frankly, enjoyed it quite a lot.
Last but not the least, I really loved all the names in the book! They were all different and wonderful and I’m still trying to figure out how to pronounce Eijeh correctly!
Carve the Mark is based in an alternate universe. The story follows the lives of the inhabitants of 9 planets that together form a galaxy. A noticeable feature of this galaxy is the invisible force known as the “current” by its inhabitants. The current flows through all the objects in the galaxy, giving each of the citizens individual superpowers, commonly known as a “currentgift”. The story primary takes place in the planet of Thuvhe.
The story begins from the point of view of Akos, a resident of Thuvhe. Thuvhe is one of the two nations of the planet and is famed for a special species of flower growing their known as Iceflowers or Hushflowers. The other nation is known as Shotet. The Shotet refer to the planet as Urek and the two nations have many differences and are often at war with each other for power. The name of the book is derived from the Shotet ritual of carving a mark on their arm using a currentblade (a knife that channels the current) when they kill someone.
Akos, a young Thuvhesit has led a peaceful life. His father is a simple farmer and his mother is one of the three Oracles of the nation. He along with his siblings Eijeh and Cisi are fate favored. Being fate favored in the galaxy means that the Oracles have already predicted a certain destiny for you, although you are never intended to know.
Akos’ beautiful life is shattered to pieces when the Shotet break into his house, kill his father and kidnap Eijeh and Akos under orders from Ryzek Noavek, the king of the Shotet. He later finds out this is because Eijeh is fated to be the next Oracle while Akos is fated to die serving the Noavek family. Ryzek’s currentgift enables his to exchange memories with other people and he is fated to die at the hands of the Chancellor Benesit of the nation of Thuvhe. With the power of an Oracle guiding him, Ryzek hopes to rise to power on Thuvhe and beat his fate.
The story shifts to Cyra’s point of view. Cyra is Ryzek’s sister. Her currentgift creats shadows under her skin that cause her intense pain, but this pain is transferred to others when she touches them. Ryzek uses the power relentlessly against Cyra’s will to torture his enemies for information. This has led to her being known as “Ryzek’s Scourge”. Cyra is forced to obey his orders because of the secret he holds over her head – the fact that it was her currentgift that led to the death of her mother.
Akos becomes a servant to Cyra due to his currentgift that enables him to resist the current. Hence, he is the only one who is able to relieve Cyra of her pain just by touching her. Akos teaches her the brewing of painkillers that will alleviate her pain in exchange for combat training from Cyra. Akos is determined to rescue Eijeh and take him back to Thuvhe. Meanwhile Ryzek uses his currentgift to exchange memories with Eijeh, in hopes to gain his currentgift in the process. However, while this does not work, it does brainwash Eijeh into serving Ryzek and complicates Akos’ plans.
What began as a simple deal in order to help each other soon turns into a relationship. Cyra decided to finally stand up to her brother and help Akos escape but he refuses to leave without his brother. Cyra dedicates herself to helping Akos and soon forms a deal with a group of Shotet renegades. She agrees to help them murder her brother in return for getting Akos out safely against his will. However, they are caught and tortured, while the renegades escape. In spite of the failure, they honor the deal and break Akos out of the dungeons and deliver him back to Thuhve.
While recovering at Thuhve and reuniting with his family, Akos encounters the new Chancellor, Isae Benesit and her twin sister Orieve (an old friend of his). Within a few short days however, they are attacked and Ori is taken prisoner by the Shotet. Isae convinces Akos to help rescue her sister and together with Cisi, they return to the Shotet land. Akos meets the renegades and finds out that she is being tortured and publicly humiliated by Ryzek in order to decrease her status in the nation. Akos rescues her and together with the renegades, Cisi and his mother, they formulate a plan to kill Ryzek while rescuing Ori. The night before the plan is to be executed however, Akos begs Cyra to spare Ryzek’s life as he has realized that if Ryzek dies, Eijeh’s memories will be lost forever. Cyra refuses but internally forms a plan to do so anyways.
Cyra manages to slip a sleeping potion into Ryzek’s medicines and then challenges him to a duel, while Akos, Cisi, Teka (a renegade) and Isae use the distraction to rescue Ori. Before the duel starts however, Cyra tells Ryzek that she has slipped him a poison in his medication. Desperate to save his life, Ryzek commands Eijeh to bring Ori to the arena and threatens to have her killed unless Cyra gives him the antidote. Cyra doesn’t reveal that she hasn’t poisoned him and Eijeh then kills his childhood best friend.
Isae is shattered over Ori’s death and the renegades leave along with Eijeh and an unconscious Ryzek. The book ends with Ryzek waking and revealing that Cyra is not a Noavek.
I was unable to include quite a few noteworthy instants from the book due to the ginormous number of characters in this book. Vas, Yma, Teka, Zosita and so many more are very important to the story but it is impossible to keep the summary to the point and yet include their roles in the story.
That being said I enjoyed the book considerably. The ending has left me haunted because when Ryzek revealed that Cyra is not a Noavek, the first thought that occurred to me was that it might be a Jace-Clary situation (City of Bones by Cassandra Clare).
I feel that more than the plot, I enjoyed the book because of its characters. I was interested in knowing why each character did what they did and what exactly drove them. Each character was unique in itself.
All in all, 4 out of 5 for Carve the Mark! And that’s all for today. Hope you enjoyed this review!