After almost a lustrum of waiting, the Divergent fandom has finally been appeased, for Veronica Roth has had her first book in years, Carve the Mark, published just two months ago. Veronica Roth, born in 1988, is an American novelist and short story writer most well-known for her debut New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy, which sold an estimate of 6.7 million copies. So, it is no wonder that Carve the Mark earned so much popularity even before its publication, but now that the book is out and has been read by thousands, did Carve the Mark really live up to the hype it received?
Carve the Mark is set in a dystopian futuristic world where everyone is born with a special ability due to the “current,” an invisible force that flows through the galaxy. The story revolves around two protagonists, Cyra and Akos, each having his or her own point-of-view in the story. Akos and Cyra both live in Thuvhe, one of the nine planets in the galaxy, but Thuvhe, unlike the other planets, is split into two nations at war with each other. Each of the two peoples in war, the Thuvhesits and the Shotet, is trying to dominate and rule planet by eliminating the other nation. When the story moves forward, the readers see that each of the two rivals has its own biased history of events that shows the nation as the good and the rightful side.
As a result, Akos Kereseth, who belongs to the Thuvhesits, is introduced to the story with an inborn hatred towards the Shotet that is only amplified by the fact that he and his brother get kidnapped by the Shotet at the beginning of the book. Meanwhile, Cyra Noavek, the sister of the Shotet king, is weaponized by her brother King Ryzek because of her ability to cause everyone, including herself, pain upon contact with her skin (an inclusive element for chronic pain patients in literature) Furthermore, Cyra and Akos, as their fates intertwine, are the protagonists that make the novel as enjoyable as can be, for this novel has a very character-driven story. It is known to all authors that a novel might have a great plot, but without great characters that you can relate to, the novel is no good.
“You assume I’m brutal because that’s what you’ve
heard,” I said. “Well, what about what I’ve heard about you?”
Are you thin-skinned, a coward, a fool?”
“You’re a Noavek,” he said stubbornly, folding his arms.
“Brutality runs in your blood.”
-Carve the Mark
The Thuvhesits, who live in the cold, northern-most part of the planet, are described to have mostly light-colored skin and smooth hair, to speak using beautiful, open-vowel sounds, and to be benevolent and kind. On the other hand, the Shotet are described to talk in a harsh way with sudden stops and closed-vowel sounds and to be violent, barbaric, and mostly dark-skinned killers. Therefore, it is understandable that many booktubers, bloggers, and fans around the world were outraged at Roth’s “racism” and accused the book of being problematic.
However, there are also many booktubers, fans, and bloggers, who still believe in Veronica Roth and defend her, saying that the fact that there are people of different appearances and skin colors in the story only shows that Roth intends to add character diversity to the story. This opinion, though widely believed, does not eclipse the fact that the Shotet, who are the dark-skinned group, are the barbaric ones, while the Thuvhesits are the loving ones, but debating this matter will do nobody any good before the sequel to Carve the Mark comes out next year, when hopefully, Roth will have completed the theme and expressed her ideas completely.
Shoving these matters aside, Carve the Mark has many prospects that make the novel very enjoyable and unputdownable. For instance, there’s the romance between Akos and Cyra. As the story moves on, the two protagonists, through the chaos and their suffering, experience friendship and comfort within each other, which later solidifies and becomes love. Moreover, there are numerous action-packed scenes including bloody arenas that are apt to have you biting your fingernails off, and that is not all. The genre of Carve the Mark is Sci-fi. Yup, that’s right. You can bet there are aliens, advanced tech, spaceships, and all the Star Wars drama you can imagine, so a piece of advice from me to you: go read the book right now.