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title: Carve the Mark
author: Veronica Roth
series: Carve the Mark #1
published: 17 January 2017
publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
genre(s): sci fi
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BookBub
On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?
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 from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another..
I honestly don’t know how to feel about this book. I wanted to like it, but I couldn’t help but notice the vaguely racist tone to it. And that turned me off the entire story.
The story revolves around Akos and Cyra, two people from different tribes. They share a planet, but share no peace. Akos is from the Thuvhe nation, the son of one of the three Oracles. This places him in the equivalent of the upper middle class. And he is white. Cyra is from the Shotet nation, the sister of the tyrannical leader of their people. And she is black.
Why is mentioning their respective races important? Because the Thuvheits are portrayed as peaceful and civilized, while the Shotet are brutal savages. Yes, the race lines are blurred between the two main characters, but the characterization still exists. Even the languages of the two tribes is described in privileged ways. The Thuvhe language is described as beautiful and lyrical, while the Shotet language is called harsh with its stops and hard sounds.
There were moments where the brutality displayed by the Shotet ruler were essentially rape. True, it wasn’t sexual, but it involved forcible entry and theft into another’s mind. It makes sense within the book, but I don’t want to give it away.
It was because of this brutality that Cyra’s gift manifested, the trigger being pain. When medical advice is sought, she is told that the pain she feels comes from herself, is her choice, and is her fault. Later, she makes the comment that she deserves it. The pain was caused by what amounts to rape, but her character feels she deserves the pain? That idea is very reminiscent of the rape culture.
And lastly, the religion of the Shotet seemed to be based at least in part on the Muslim faith. There was a lot of negativity in its portrayal and that just seemed to perpetuate stereotypes.
Even aside from all of that, I just couldn’t connect to the characters. The story was slow and even when it did pick up, it was too late for me. All in all, I think I will pass on the rest of the series.
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