Book Review | Carve the Mark


Carve and Mark by Veronica RothCarve the Mark (Carve the Mark #1) by Veronica Roth

Hardcover, 468 pages

Published January 17th 2017

2 stars
Uncensored review as always
And spoiler-free

Oh boy. This is not going to be pretty. I’m sure you have seen all the upchucked Haterade that the “controversy brigade” so generously spewed about this book before and after it’s release. So obviously, I wanted to love this book SO HARD if only to shove a raving review in the face of absurdity! Unfortunately, I can’t do that here.


On the other hand … I honestly did not see ANY of the controversy. Like … where is it? I have no idea. I’m sure some “helpful” person will take the time to “enlighten” me in the comments below (hint: don’t. Because I honestly don’t care). Sadly, large portions of this book were just confusing and slow. But we will start with the positives … because I’m not a complete asshole.

The Story

(Goodreads synopsis):

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.”

What I Liked

The best part of this book (for me) was all the culture building Roth so intricately weaved together for this world. Some of you may find this part a bit info-dumpy … but I’m a total nerd for stuff like this so I loved it! All the fascinating religious beliefs, languages, history. Yeah … totally my jam and I ate it with a spoon and a smile. These are the things that shape a society. These are the things that create diversity, discrimination, conflict and war! These are the things that help to shape an individual (along with personal experience and learned/inherited behavior). Which brings me to another thing I loved about this book.

Roth did an incredible job building her characters from a psychological standpoint. Personal histories were laid beautifully throughout this book, making the characters intricate and intriguing and real. People are not black or white, good or bad. People are tapestries of gray with shades of every manner of influence woven through. All broken, all healing, all scared and walled and pieced in varying ways.

I could continue on this subject for a while, inevitably meandering into a major psychology lecture the likes of which we many never escape … so I shall move along. But before I dive headfirst into negativity land … I want to acknowledge the fact that, while I will not take the time to chronicle each and every moment/plot-point/collection-of-words that I liked about this book, I did enjoy the story for the most part. It truly is a good concept and story, and with a good pair of scissors in the hand of a less forgiving editor, this would have been a much more successful read.

What I Did Not Like

What the fuck is going on?
Where are we?
What the hell is this place?
How did we get here?
What color are the walls?

This is an example of the types of questions I may have asked myself while stumbling through this book. Let’s face it, the descriptions of actual places were basically non-existent. I like to fancy myself as having a pretty active imagination, but even I had major trouble visualizing scenes while reading this. Honestly, the beginning of this book really roped me in (I quite enjoyed a good portion of the first part of this book). Unfortunately, the middle dropped all form entirely and became a cluster fuck of what-the-fucks … and it didn’t get any better from there. To add to the utter confusion … I often felt like I was missing huge chunks of time. Like … we were here … then all the sudden we’re over there … and I had no idea why or how.

To say that a majority of this book was confusing as fuck would be an appropriate assessment. Confusing and slooooooow (and I don’t mind slow but this was not a good slow). Honestly this was really my biggest and perhaps only complaint with this book. As I mentioned above, the concept and the story was actually quite decent. But when you can’t focus because you are either confused or bored … a great concept really fails to hold sway. The point of fiction is to transfer your reader to another time/place/world. But in order for that to be effective, the world first has to be built. This was the utter failing of this book and unfortunately, it’s a doozy.

In Conclusion

Great concept. Good plot. Poor execution. Slow and confusing. I would not recommend.


15 thoughts on “Book Review | Carve the Mark

  1. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    I’m sorry you were unable to prove the haters wrong… I was so looking forward to reading a positive review on this one!
    Guess there’s no saving this book. Roth really didn’t do a great job this time (or other times, I guess, since I didn’t enjoy Divergent either).
    Anyway, awesome review, Frankie! And good luck with your next read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dustoffyourmachalo says:

    I had a similar reaction as yours! I didn’t get the controversy either, just didn’t care for the execution! I also liked Divergent and Insurgent but not Allegiant! – Shelly

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kristin says:

    I tried to read this one because I wanted my form my own opinion regarding the controversy but I ending up only read a few chapters. I totally agree it as really boring and slow!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. aravenclawlibrary says:

    I personally loved this book. I held up Caraval and Carve the Mark and made my bf decide. He chose Carve the Mark and I’m really glad he did.
    I can totally understand why you felt it was slow. There were some parts for me were I was like “can something happen, plleeeaaassseeee.” but other than that I loved it.
    I am also like you in the sense where I didn’t see the controversy Or why it was such a big deal and why everybody’s panties were in a twist. I really felt to me that she took ideas from different cultures and made them her own. I suppose some people just can’t be happy unless they are tearing down others books.
    Good review! I love reading your reviews because even though you might not like the book, you are still respectful about it and expressing your opinions. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Literary Dust says:

    After Allegiant, I haven’t wanted to read anything else by the author, but I was still thinking maybe reading this one. I just hated what she did with Four’s character! So, I guess I will sit this one aside!!!!! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • frankielovely says:

      Thanks 🙂
      I agree with the Divergent series. Four deserved better.
      This book just felt like she missed major chunks of explanation and I was totally lost. The world and ideas were fantastic though! Roth has grown a lot as an author since Allegiant.

      Liked by 1 person

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