Narrator: Austin Butler, Emily Rankin
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 17th 2017
Genres: Futuristic, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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.
For most of Carve the Mark, I had mixed feelings. I think I’ve finally settled on not liking it. There were some aspects I was kind of ok with — the way that Cyra and Akos’ relationship developed was cute, albeit predictable. But … well, what I didn’t like is far more interesting. So here you go!
The Pacing & Transitions were just bad.
The pacing was AWFUL. It was just overly sloooowwwww. Yes, we were “getting to know” Cyra and Akos (honestly, there wasn’t a ton of development there, and what WAS there happened in the last 15% or so of the book, so why bother with the rest of it?) but that by itself does not an interesting plot make. And I think the setup had enough potential for action and adventure, but instead it was just a series of random scenes stitched sloppily together.
There were some seriously choppy transitions throughout — except for, you know, when there weren’t any transitions at all. And in the beginning I had a real problem with POV — I actually thought that Akos’ brother was the main character, not Akos. And the opening in particular jumps around showing us some very random scenes from the past, I’m assuming so we can get to know the characters. I would have much rather Carve the Mark started around the 20% mark and weave in random interesting details than put up with all the jumping around. Blagh. And there were “transitions” (by which I mean scene skips) where, I think, years had passed. Years. And I was like … oookayy, WHY?
Scenes that would have been logistically difficult were just skipped over. I get it, the MC was passed out, but we didn’t even get a worthwhile explanation of what happened. This would have been the INTERESTING part of the book, so I’m disappointed at not getting to know what went down. Like, everything prior had literally been building up until that moment, and then Roth just skipped over it. I was UPSET.
The worldbuilding was ok, but something didn’t sit right with me.
The world was interesting enough, but it just felt soooo … Antiquated? I wish I could say unrealistic, but, well, I can’t say that this kind of ridiculous divide isn’t representative of reality in some way. But I just didn’t like the setup or how it was handled. And I don’t understand how these two cultures sharing the planet can have literally NO knowledge of the other culture at this point. Culture A goes out and explores the rest of the galaxy on a regular basis, but they’re completely ignorant to their neighbor. Culture B I guess just doesn’t make a habit of going anywhere? I wasn’t honestly clear on that. And, like, this is some futuristic setting where people, you know, have spaceships and supposedly advanced technology? The ONLY “advanced” anything were the ships (which are boring and not a focus anyway) and some of the medical treatments (which I’ll grant you, were interesting; I learned a lot about medical stuff in this world. But I didn’t really care about the medical stuff.)
That said, the Shotet culture was incredibly well fleshed out, and that was interesting to explore. But one of the main characters was not from Shotet, and I feel like I only got tiny glimpses into his culture. For a book that’s supposedly about this cultural divide, it would have been nice for it to feel a little more balanced? I was expecting more of an Ender’s Game feel, where you actually get to know the culture of the warring groups, at least to a certain extent. But that just wasn’t what Carve the Mark was about.
The current gifts seemed incredibly limited / weirdly set up. I feel like half of the characters that we actually followed had variations on a similar theme. One dude changed memories. One gal could view memories. One person only feels pain. Another person can’t feel pain. Etc. The only person who had an actually interesting current gift was a side character. And I think she was my favorite character in general #wth
I’m not actually sure where the plot was/is going?
Reference the random scene bit up above^^ I mean, we’ve got the obvious bit of “these two groups don’t get along” and we’re all expecting Cyro and Akos to lead the path to them getting along. Very Romeo & Juliet. Seriously. But that wasn’t what most of the book was about — it was slow and random. And there were interesting pieces, but they didn’t move anywhere.
As best as I can tell, here are the themes:
- I feel like I just read about a guy who brainwashes everyone. Why?
- I don’t like fate themes. This is one big fate theme.
- Cyra’s pain transforms when she realizes she can control it a bit
- Cultural divides suck. Let’s all just get along. You know, by killing a dude.
The languages and names and stuff weren’t cool. At least, I thought they’d be cooler.
The language isn’t consistent. In the beginning(ish?) of the book, Shotet is said to have harsh syllables and Thuvhe is said to have quick short syllables and be a little more fluid. But when you’re reading them (or listening on Audiobook as the case may be), the names and occasional words all sound VERY similar. Almost as if, shock and awe, they were all made up by the same person. Here I was trying to equate them to the idea of Russian and Italian or Japanese or something — based on that initial description, I’d expect one to have a lot of consonants and one to have a lot of vowels. But that wasn’t the case and it drove me nuts.
Random other details change from start to finish too, also associated with the language. Cyra at one point early on observes that she’s always struggled with the rapid syllables of Thuvhe, but at the end (when we’ve been pretty blatantly told that she avoids using it), she’s told her accent is excellent. I’ve studied a LOT of languages, you guys. It does NOT work that way.
And what is up with the names? I read fantasy; I have thick skin for crazy names. But I just could not keep ANYONE straight in this book beyond the main characters themselves. There were too many similarities between everyone’s names. Too many s-sounds and z-sounds and ee-sounds and t-sounds. At least in the surnames.
Have you read Carve the Mark? What did you think? What were your favorite parts? Did anything get on your nerves?