A Review of Carve the Mark

Initially, I had no idea that Veronika Roth was the writer of this series. I had seen the second book of this series on display in my local Indigo and thought, “This looks pretty!” A somewhat shallow first reaction to the book, yes, I know. Most often, though, it is the cover that catches my eye and the synopsis on the back that prevents me from simply placing the book back on the shelf. This book caught my eye and when the sales lady informed me it was a Veronika Roth book, I held onto it.

There has been a fair amount of talk about this book and some particularly negative reviews. While I like to stay true to my own perspective, I can’t help but agree with some of these opinions. In this blog post, I will give my own untainted review of Carve the Mark, and bring to light the issues I have found to be quite prominent.

To begin with, the overall flow of the book was almost unbearably slow. The flipping back and forth between perspectives has always been a bit of a nuissance for me, particularly when I am trying to get a grasp of who a character is, but this time it seemed to make matters worse. The changing of perspectives seemed to slow the timeline down even further and make the characters harder to get to know.

Another area of issue for me was the setting. I found that it wasn’t particularly well described in some cases. The planet of the Thuvhe people was somewhat explained, however, the overall image of the Shotet people is all a blur to me. The movement of action around in space created conflict for the imagination as well. Also, were there  even other spaceships? How couldn’t the Shotet people take down the obvious rebel spaceship that cast a huge shadow over their arena? This was a plot hole for me.

Among other plot holes, did any of the characters have a plan for what was to come next? I feel as though they have very one track minds. Kill Rhys. Save Eji. Save Ori. What next? Does anyone have any plans other than the immediate future? This prominent lack of ambition is highly problematic as their don’t seem to be any higher goals. None that we are aware of anyway which brings me to my next source of anger. Cyra is a very unique character, yes. She is the kind of person to bottle up her problems and keep secrets from other characters, if she has any sort of plan for the future, how would we know? Will this come from her internal monologue? Or does she not even have any plan at all? Will she take over leadership of Shotet? So many questions left unanswered! I feel as though the plot of this book was fairly aimless aside from the saving and assassination of certain characters.

I had hope for certain characters. I really hoped there was more depth lurking below the surface in characters such as Rhys and Vas. I do not believe that they were simply inherently evil, even Akos had been disappointed in Vas. There was so much potential for these characters that they simply couldn’t live up to. Couldn’t Vas have been planning to help Cyra guide their planet into a better system of leadership with more affective healthcare? A far-fetched idea, I know, but you can’t tell me know didn’t see the potential for good deeds in him. Rhys’ character, on the otherhand, could have been delved into further as a method of discussing mental illness. He clearly was an emotionally distraught human being who didn’t particularly enjoy seeing pain, but wouldn’t this mean there was more to his character? Couldn’t he have been suffering from some PTSD from his father? This brings me to my next far-fetched idea, could Rhys’ father, who we are told is still alive, be abusing and manipulating Rhys behind the scenes?

Will I be reading the next book anytime soon? Probably not. I just can’t see it having the potential for the exciting plot twists that I enjoy in other books. I love not being able to guess what will happen next, but in this case, I simply don’t find myself wondering.

My rating: 1/5

My recommendation: I can see this being popular among younger readers who are just getting a grasp of literary devices. Although, if you are looking for a little more character depth, character development, and an exciting, fast paced storyline, than this is probably not the book for you.