Book review – Carve the Mark (Spoiler Free)

“I didn’t choose the blood that runs in my veins, any more than you chose your fate. You and I, we’ve become what we were made to become.”

  • Title: Carve the Mark
  • Author: Veronica Roth
  • Genre: YA science fiction
  • Pages: 468
  • Publication date: January 17, 2017
  • Publisher: HarperCollins

Veronica Roth, a respected author for her story Divergent, has come back again with a new book. However, this book has hit a lot of controversy. This is a book you will either like or hate for a few reasons.

It tells the story of Cyra who has the gift to inflict physical pain. She has enough pain inside of her that unleashing the pain onto others can kill them. When she doesn’t unleash the pain, the pain swarms inside of her, constantly hurting her. Her brother, who rules over their country, uses her and her power as his weapon to keep the country afraid of them. Of course, Cyra is getting a bit tired of that.

Her brother captures Akos and his brother, who are the sons of an oracle from another nation. Akos is desperate to do anything to save his brother, including using Cyra. Akos’ gift, consequently, is that he can turn off gifts in a way. With him, Cyra cannot feel the pain inside of her anymore.

The story drags on in the beginning though. It goes over hushflowers, which doesn’t make another appearance until about halfway through the book. They could’ve been introduced later. The plot is also kind of still. Instead of getting right to it, Veronica takes her time to explain the world and some characters even though most of them are not major characters.

The imagery is great, but it drags the story along too. If you want, you can skip to page 43 and not miss almost anything. Everything that was beforehand gets explained again later in the story.

In this world, Veronica has the same problem as Cassandra Clare: too many characters. From chapter one alone, there is Akos, Eijeh, Cisi, father (Aoseh), mother (Sifa), Ori Rednalis, Ryzek, and Cyra. That’s not including the strange city name or the family names. I had to reread most of it from the beginning just to catch up on who was who. This problem also could’ve been solved by making page 43 the beginning of the story.

Also, letting page 43 (or even page 67) begin the story would also help with the world building. It took me a while to get into the book, because I was forced into her world where she shoved a bunch of information down my throat. It took a while to catch up.

Now, the controversy of the book doesn’t start until about the time Akos and Cyra meet (which takes 9 chapters, 82 pages). Cyra and her “gift” is supposed to resemble real people who live with chronic pain. Veronica has said that she has chronic pain herself. However, people with chronic pain cannot relate to Cyra because the pain is glossed over as something mythical and enchanting.

One reviewer from Goodreads said: “I have lived with chronic pain now for 7 years. It is something that has taken over my life and caused a lot of harm. Some days it is so bad I can barely sit up, let alone get out of bed. And to see someone equate it with a gift or say people are worthy of it makes me feel sick.”*

Making it seem like chronic pain is something magical destroyed the book. I kind of see Veronica’s side where she’s trying to say that people with chronic pain can live normal lives, but I don’t think she has to make the pain seem like some mythical power.

There are also no trigger warnings for this book. So, as a trigger warning, you may not want to read this if you or someone close to you has chronic pain or has self-harmed before. There’s a reason this book is called Carve the Mark.

Besides that, I did enjoy this book. It took me almost a hundred pages to get into the story, but after that, it was a steady ride for me. The characters, especially Cyra, were vivid and easy to grasp. The imagery throughout the story was great. After I understood the world around me, it was cool to expand and see how creative the world was. I do recommend this book, but it’s not one of those “you-should-read-this-right-now!” kind of books. It’s more like a “read-this-if-you-want” book.

Score: 6/10
Average rating on Goodreads: 3.71/5

*The quote was taken from here.

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