Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth


Crave the Mark


Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: (Carve the Mark #1)
Pages: Paperback, 468 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: January 18th 2017



Summary:


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.
The 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?

Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth's stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.




Review:


When I was initially excited about reading this book, it was because I had confused Veronica Roth with Victoria Schwab in my head. Stupid, I know. But by the time that I actually came around to reading this, I didn't really care about who the author was. I didn't even read the blurb to refresh my memory and just went straight in. I think the element of surprise really worked well for me this time.

This book has a nice mixture of fantasy and sci-fi elements that kinda blend well together in some places but lack the finesse I'm used to in my fantasy and sci-fi novels at others. I'll start with the things that I like and then talk more about some things that could have been handled better.

So. Things I liked:

  • The characters
It's no surprise that I'm a sucker for good characterization. It's one of those factors that can make or break a book for me. Fortunately, Carve the Mark, got that right. I liked how every character was portrayed in this novel and I liked all their quirky characteristics that made them who they were. Cyra steals the show for me though. She hates herself for a lot of things and considers herself a monster but the way she handles herself and tries to be a better person even when doing the wrong thing would be somewhat easier for her, just makes her character such an intriguing one. As a reader, I understood her choices, I sympathized with her situation but I also remarked at her strength, willpower and sensibility throughout the book. She might have made some stupid decisions and she might not have a diplomatic bone in her body but she feels real. Her emotions are sometimes too much and she tries to deal with them on her own cause that's all she's know but you see her inhibitions fall away slowly and see her unfurl into this beautiful, strong woman by the end of the book. It's great! She's just a really good character, okay? As for Akos, he is a likable enough guy but he's mostly in the background for me. He is dedicated, humble, sensitive, brilliant with his potions and kind of a prejudiced fellow but overall, a good fit for Cyra. I would have loved to get more insight on Vas' character and I'm sure there will be more on Isae in the future books but I really appreciated every character's presence in the book. Although, Ryzek could be made a better villain..but that's not a complaint. I'm hoping to see more depth to his character in the sequels.

  • The romance
It's always such a breath of fresh air when there isn't instant attraction or feelings of lust (confused with lurvvv) in YA these days. Cyra and Akos were perfect together! I loved the budding romance. If the MC wasn't Cyra, I would have thought that the girl needed to calm down and not give away her life for the first guy she could literally touch, but it was her and the reasons she decided to do the things she did for Akos just made her so much more special for me. It took a while for Akos to really appreciate how amazing Cyra was, but he got around to it. I was pretty happy with the slow pacing of their romance and their eventual confession of feelings. Akos understood when Cyra needed space and Cyra knew just the right to do or not say when Akos needed his space. It was a lovely dynamic to read about and I loved it.



So. Things I didn't like/think could have been done better:

  • The world building 
Even though I understand that the story is set up in another solar system, where intergalactic? interplanetary? travel is possible, where the politics encompasses all the planets that an Assembly approves? adds? to the list of "valid" nations/planets, I can't quite picture the constitution of it all? I mean, I get that the Shotet are pissed at the Assembly for not considering them as "nationals" so to speak. But why? Because their people don't get the "government" benefits? Because they don't get recognition and get treated as pirates? I'm speculating because at this point, even after recently finishing the book, I don't get it. Maybe I'm just daft or maybe Ms. Roth needs to work a little better on her world building.
    I do like the idea of the current that flows through their world and its symbolic, physical and spiritual impact on different people. It's an interesting concept but the notion of it is still pretty vague to me. What I understand is that it affects everyone in a certain way but the engrossing why or how questions are never touched upon. If this was supposed to be a romance novel, it wouldn't have mattered. But it's not and the world building is a crucial step. There is always a balance an author needs to find but I think Ms. Roth skipped it all together.
    • The beginning 
    I'm all for changing POVs and alternating timelines if they are executed seamlessly and are necessary to the plot machinations but somehow the introductory choppy, rushed events of Akos and Cyra's childhood didn't really feel seamless or well executed to me. I feel like the extra page time that was devoted separately for their childhood could have been covered as flashback scenes and would have made the story feel more present.
    • The pacing 
    This is starting to look like a theme and I feel like I'm complaining a lot but believe you me, I did enjoy the story! The pacing though..




      The book is slow. Most of it is. I didn't mind reading about Cyra and Akos so it didn't botch the story for me but if someone can't get into the characters, I'm sorry but this book might be a drag for you. Pacing and plot-wise, the book does need refinement.

      However, that being said, I still enjoyed reading the book quite a lot. I would definitely come back for more. Mostly because all the flaws I mentioned didn't bother me too much. It's the characters, I tell ya.

      Anyway, a solid 3.5 stars from me!

      Rating: 






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