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Presented by State Library Victoria

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

It’s taken me a while to think about what exactly I am going to write about this book! I liked it, though I read a lot of very negative reviews surrounding it, some I agree with, some not so much.


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

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 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 his brother out alive—no matter what the cost.

Then 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.

(from Goodreads)


(Also it’s not free of spoilers, though nothing heavy, only mentions of things found out later)

Let’s start with the things I didn’t like:

  1. Romance
  2. Some problematic themes
  3. Some of it was just… not so interesting (and also a bit vague?)



Of course, I should know that anytime I plan on reading a YA novel I should be expecting the main two characters to fall in love. And I do. But, as an optimist, I always hope that maybe I will ship them, which is when it’s fun. This time I didn’t. I know plenty of people like romance filled sci-fi, which is great, but I feel like I’ve read this particular one many many times over.

Problematic Themes

Some of those reviews I mentioned earlier went very in-depth about the themes and ideas that Roth put into her novel. There are quite a few discussions about the racism threaded into her words, and I have to say, I didn’t notice it. I do understand I am a young white person so of course, I don’t have any experience in these things, so there probably were some racist things whether intentional or not. Of course, I hope not, but sometimes authors are like that and it’s very disappointing.

In the Shotet Culture, the practice was to cut into their arms after they killed a person, and create scars, called Kill Marks. That’s where the title’s from. I don’t think it was displaying a very good message there, about how it is a ritual practice to cut into themselves. But, on the flip side, it is interesting to explore a (fictional) culture where self-harm is normalised, and how people of different origins react to it.

Sometimes Boring and Vague

I found myself having to stop reading and do something else every chapter or so when I first started reading it because I just wasn’t that invested. I was also a bit confused about some things, such as the time Cyra and Akos spent together. It seemed to me to be about two months, but from some other parts of the book, Cyra thought about it like they had been spending years together. Yeah, so maybe a bit more detail? Or perhaps a signpost like Three Years Later or something.


Now, of course, I have very low standards and enjoy reading lots of everything, so naturally, there are a few things I liked about it as well.



But Akos wasn’t “nice”; that was just what people said about quiet people.

“Yeah, well, we’re all afraid.” I sighed. “The angry more than most, I think.”

“You feel like silence.”

This quote doesn’t really mean anything out of context, just sounds like something you’d find on a sad breakup board on Pinterest or something, but in context, I like how Cyra, who feels pain all the time because of the current, sees Akos, who cannot be touched by the Current.

Isae’s brow was furrowed-it was furrowed a lot of the time, actually, like she didn’t like the space between her two eyebrows and wanted to hide it.


I love Star Wars, so of course, I like to read books with a similar setting. I personally haven’t read many books set in space, so if anybody has a recommendation of one please let me know!