Strange Gifts

Carve the mark (1)

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Summary from Goodreads:

In a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

30117284Cyra 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 the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?
Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.


I know there has been controversy surrounding this book. As I am not on twitter or hardly any other social media, I missed out on what all the fuss was about.  I didn’t really look for any of it either, choosing instead to form my own opinions without undue influence.

That said, except for maybe the length of the book (way too long!) I really enjoyed reading it.  Veronica Ross has created a unique world and several cultures that sort of blew my mind.  I reminded me of some older science fiction series that created whole new civilizations and backstories on cultures, that seems to be missing in todays Science Fiction. To much emphasis is made on characters, or action, or romance to move the story along. Ross has really developed something here that I think will end up being very powerful.

We have two narrators in this story, Cyra and Akos.  The story really drags for awhile at first as we get to know some of the back story of these two characters, and it isn’t until they meet that things start to move a little bit faster (but still slower than I like) .  I really liked the slow progression of their relationship, although it is somewhat codependent and they really spend a lot of time enabling each other. It was nice to see that they were able to overcome their cultural differences and come to like and trust each other.

The concept of the current and the ‘Gifts’ it bestows on some people was an interesting concept to me.  I also liked the fact that you could see the current. The variety of the gifts and the single mindedness of them was fascinating.  Some truly sounded awful, like Cyra’s pain infliction and her brother Ryzek’s gift of memories, both being able to take them and get rid of them. He was a truly awful, evil character, but I still managed to have some sympathy for.  He was trying so hard not to fulfill his prophecy, that of course everything he did just led him right to it coming true. Although I’m not sure I can forgive him for what he does to Cyra at the end of the book. It will be interesting to see what happens to him in the next book.

There is a lot to like about this book, the characters, the plot, some of the concepts such as the current and the hushflower, which can be both a poison and a helpful herb depending on the right dosage.  Some of the backstories to the cultures Ross has created are amazing too and not something to be ignored. There are only two things I can find fault with and one is sort of dependent on the other.  The book really isn’t that long at only 468 pages.  I have read and enjoyed longer books.  But the pacing really makes it seem much longer.  Hopefully the next books pace will move more quickly.

So, I read the Divergent series, and I really loved the first book. The world she created was quite unique and intriguing to me.  Unfortunately I think the next two books were not as good as the first.  I found them too predictable, and not up to snuff to the first. I am very much hoping that Ms. Ross does not fall into the same trap this time around.

Here is the book trailer from our friends at Epic Reads!

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