Veronica Roth delivers an immersive, vividly imagined space adventure roused by a slow-burn romance, flaring political tension and struggles between families, cultures and countries. In Roth’s often-brutal world, a current flows through every living thing, giving them a currentgift — a unique power that presents itself after adolescence. Some families are also favored by fate, giving them insight into futures sometimes good, sometimes not. Dichotomies quickly become apparent — between the favored and the not, the wealthy and the poor and between the beliefs of those in power.
On the ice planet of Thuvhe, two nations fight for power: the peaceful Thuvhesit and the prone-to-violence Shotet. We meet Cyra Noavek, sister to Ryzek, Shotet’s tyrannical ruler. Cyra’s currentgift to deliver excruciating pain with a touch makes her a reluctant weapon for her brother. And although she lives a life defined by pain, her transgressions have deadened and dimmed her spirit.
Akos Kereseth, on the other hand, is the spirited son of the oracle of Thuvhe. Raised in a loving family with a brother and a sister, Akos’ world splinters when the Shotet invade his home, taking him and his brother Eijeh captive.
Soon, Cyra and Akos fates intertwine when they are thrust together. Akos awakens something in Cyra, and over time, due to constant close proximity, they become friends … friends with feelings that begin to deepen.
“I didn’t choose the blood that runs in my veins … Any more than you chose your fate. You and I, we’ve become what we’re made to become.”
But Akos knows that he needs Cyra’s help if he’s to get his brother out alive and back to Thuvhe. Together, Cyra and Akos must figure out how to escape from Ryzek’s clutches, even as many conspire against them and truths learned along the way continually shift the bloodied ground beneath them. To make complicated matters more complicated, as they fall in love, decisions become more reckless and the truth of being discovered seems imminent.
“She was not a rusty nail, as she had once told him, or a hot poker, or a blade in Ryzek’s hand. She was a hushflower, all power and possibility.”
Themes of identity, religion, race and ethics weave through the entire narrative and will surely stir discussion, but perhaps understanding these underpinnings requires more runway as the series continues (at least I hope there is a reason to some of the decisions taken in the story). Nonetheless, Roth’s narrative is exciting with well-developed protagonists and an action-packed, highly tense plot which continues to tout surprises. This intergalactic series starter is sure to please Roth’s avid readers and excite new readers alike.
About Carve the Mark
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.
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