Veronica Roth’s new book Carve the Mark not worth reading

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Divergent was good compared to Veronica Roth’s new novel. Carve the Mark was published in January by Katherine Tegan Books. Being the first book that Roth wrote not in the Divergent world, it got a lot of hype.

Each person in Roth’s new world has a “currentgift,” a power that they have. Cyra is sister of the dictator of the Shotet people. Cyra’s “currentgift” gives her and others pain. Her brother uses her to torture his enemies. Akos is Thuvhe, a gentle person whose “currentgift” is to take other’s gifts away from them. One night, Shotet soldiers capture Akos and his brother. Akos will do anything to get his brother and himself back to their family. Soon, Akos and Cyra meet. They are so different, yet have to work together to survive.

The best part was the reversal of the gender roles. Cyra was the main character who caused pain, and Akos was the gentle one, unlike other books in which the male character is more violent and the female character more kind. That was the only good thing about the entire novel.

The story started with Akos and his brother being taken away from their family by Shotet soldiers, and that was the only action you see during the first half of the book. They just talked to each other for most of the novel. 

The publicity for Carve the Mark stated that it would be good for fans of Star Wars. While some fans who like Star Wars could potentially like this, there are not many similarities between the movies and Carve the Mark. Roth tries to use a space world setting, but doesn’t do very well. Akos and Cyra live on Thuvhe, and most of the novel is set on Thuvhe. There are no other species besides humans. There are no epic starship battles. They do travel to another world, but it isn’t a huge deal compared to other aspects of the plot.

There are also some parts that have gotten backlash for how race is treated. In the first few chapters, the Shotet are portrayed as “fierce” and “brutal.” They killed Akos’s grandmother and had invaded the Thuvhesits’ lands multiple times. The first action from the Shotet is when they are at Akos’s house; they kill his father and kidnap Akos and his brother. The Shotet are cruel, and the ruling family is known for being cruel to each other. Cyra also describes her mom’s hair as “so curly it trapped fingers,” while the Thuvhe have straight hair. The Shotet also carve marks into their arms when they take other people’s lives (hence the name Carve the Mark), which the Thuvhe see as barbaric. A doctor also says that Cyra’s gift of pain is caused by the Shotet’s inclination towards violence. The languages have also been described differently, with the Shotet language being jarring and the Thuvhe language flowy. The Shotet seem to be dark-skinned and oppressing the gentle, light-skinned Thuvhe.

Veronica Roth has addressed some comments about allusions of race on her blog. She said that she intended for both the Shotet and the Thuvhesits to be of “blended origins,” so not all Thuvhe are light-skinned and not all Shotet are dark-skinned. The languages are inspired by the time that Roth spent in Romania with Hungarian people and different sounds that Roth wanted to use. However, she ends her post by saying that she doesn’t want to tell anyone how to feel about her work, and encourages people to have more discussions about topics and issues that come up.

Carve the Mark has also been put down for the way it treats chronic pain. In the world that Roth created, each person has a “currentgift,” and Cyra’s is chronic pain. In an interview with NPR, Roth said that Cyra had this “gift,” and that Roth herself had chronic pain. However, many other people who have chronic pain have spoken up and said that their pain is not a gift, and that Roth is using it to make money.

Carve the Mark isn’t special. The only things that make it different from a typical young adult novel are the backlash that it’s gotten for how it talks about chronic pain and allusions to racism and the name Veronica Roth written in big letters on the cover. This book probably wouldn’t have sold very well if Veronica Roth hadn’t written it. The world in the story isn’t great; the powers are ordinary; the romance is not the best. Carve the Mark isn’t worth the money to buy it or the time spent reading it.

About Mackensie Kim ('21)

Arts Editor (2016-2017)

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