Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth, published by HarperCollins on 17th January 2017
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 was really thrilled to get my hands on 'Carve the Mark', although I couldn't quite tell from reading the synopsis what the story was going to be all about. I loved Veronica Roth's Divergent series and I was really interested to see how her writing had changed and what direction she would take her storytelling in next. This was such a treat to dive straight into!
I found the first half of the book, particularly the opening five or six chapters, unfolded at quite a slow pace. Admittedly there was a lot of world building though and introductions were made to many of the main characters and their families. I did find some of the characters' names bewildering and difficult to keep track of and I was a little puzzled about a few of the things that happened early on in the story. I did go back to read a couple of sections again and that helped a lot.
Luckily the story picked up a lot and I was gradually drawn further and further into the intrigue and action. The main pull for me was the two main protagonists, Akos and Cyra. Each chapter alternated between their two perspectives giving you different insights into their lives. They have extremely contrasting personalities which was interesting. Akos is extremely emotional and attached to his family, where as Cyra has learnt how to be tough and strong and operates more as an individual. One of the dominant ideas in the story is that each person has a currentgift which is an extension of their personality. Cyra and Akos find that their currentgifts almost compliment each other and this is one of the elements which brings them together. Although I didn't love them as much as Tris and Four (I mean come on!), they were still an intriguing couple.
Parts of the story actually made me think of Romeo and Juliet. There are two rival nations, Thuvhe and Shotet and each is fighting for supremacy. Cyra and Akos find themselves caught in the middle but their relationship seemed to me like it would prove to be pivotal to the overall outcome.
The ending was absolutely brilliant with a shock revelation to keep you glued to the edge of your seat. I really want to read the next instalment of the duology now. I have to say that as a Veronica Roth fan, I didn't enjoy it as much as Divergent which grabbed me from the very beginning. However, 'Carve the Mark' improved massively in the second half and has left me wanting more.