Review: Carve the Mark

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisIn 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 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?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

“I am sharp as broken glass, and just as fragile. I tell lies better than I tell truths. I see all of the galaxy and never catch a glimpse of it.”

I really did enjoy this book. What drew me to it the most was that I had read somewhere that the author was inspired to write Cyra because she knew people who had experienced chronic pain. Cyra looked promising as a character in a new way, she represented the chance for a character to be strong and powerful but also experience suffering and even after all the reviews I’ve read to the contrary, I think Roth accomplished exactly what I and so many others needed to see in Cyra as a character.

Cyra’s pain is a gift. Now before you go beating me up and telling me that pain isn’t a gift, I get where you’re coming from. From having been through life disabled and in pain ranging from mild to severe over the years, I understand. But what I also understand is that it has made me a stronger person. Having to go through trials and hardships (even if they are permanent) teaches us things about ourselves we could have never known without them. Without going through the pain her currentgift caused her, Cyra would’ve never developed the other strengths she needed to overcome Ryzek and her own emotional pain. By having the physical pain of her gift to overcome she had something to focus on, which made her become a better fighter because she felt powerless to control her gift, it made her a more compassionate person as she felt the suffering of others through her gift, even if she caused it through being forced by Ryzek, and didn’t want to hurt anyone. In that way her currentgift was a “gift” because it empowered her to realize how strong she already was as an individual person. It just took Akos coming into her life to really open up what she already knew. He showed her that adversity doesn’t have to make you a monster.

Cyra’s brother Ryzek is a fantastic foil for her character. In his avoidance of pain, he shows that when you avoid pain at all costs it actually makes you the thing you hate most. Ryzek didn’t want any pain to touch him, he was afraid of it and didn’t like witnessing it, but his avoidance of pain to himself only made him a completely sadistic and malicious person, just like his father, he lacked any empathy, which you gain through understanding pain and experiencing it yourself. His attendant, Vas, couldn’t feel pain at all but that made him nothing more than a glorified servant and in the end it was his undoing because he had never learned to deal with pain and that was a fatal weakness.

I liked that the author showed that Akos’s strength wasn’t really in his size or how well he could fight, but in his inherent compassion for others, which is what Cyra feared he was going to lose the longer he was trapped with her and Ryzek. Although she may have thought Eijeh was a lost cause, she admired that Akos never lost the love for his brother, something she could no longer feel for her own. And his compassion towards her when everyone else treated her like something to be feared helped to open her up to show him kindness and, ultimately, love in return. Their dynamic together and slow-burning romance was my favorite part of the book. I’m excited to see how much more it develops in the sequel.

The world building was so-so, considering how long the book was I still had trouble picturing things clearly and figuring out where and what exactly was being described. That being said I really liked the over all sci-fi feel of the world and the diversity among the planets and how they operate, it would be amazing if there were some more sojourns in the next book so we can get a peek at the other planets.

The side characters were great, I liked Jorek a lot and was a little disappointed that he and Cisi didn’t have a thing. I kinda wanted Isae just to be on her own, she struck me more as the awesome standalone cool chick, I liked her more right when she was introduced than I did as the book was coming to a close and she became the panicky, whiny one. Teka was a great character, I liked that they kept her around as one of the more prominent members of the renegades and I’m hoping she’s featured more in the next book. I’m interested to see where they go with Eijeh and what exactly Ori did to him, that was an interesting sort of twist right at the end there.

I really want to know more about the fate-favored and what exactly that means because the whole concept was really interesting and of course with the big reveal with Cyra at the end there’s bound to be some shake-ups in the next book. I already have a couple of theories on how the fates of each of the characters are going to work out, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

So overall this was a very in-depth, wonderfully complex read and I’m glad I decided to plug ahead with it in spite of what others had written. I thoroughly enjoyed it, Cyra really resonated with me as a character and I applaud Roth for going through with writing a character inspired by something as divisive as pain. I look forward to the next installment.

 

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