Since Veronica Roth wrote Divergent, I had to read this book. Because she wrote Allegiant, I had low expectations.
Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle, and his life is forever changed when enemy soldiers on his planet kidnap him and his brother. He is soon forced into service to Cyra, a Shotet royal with a reputation for for spreading pain to anyone she touches.
I might have read this one when it was published, but the controversy kept me away. And since I am aware of the controversy, that means I have to address it. The two main critiques of this book are that it is racist and ableist. To some extent, I saw these negative portrayals in the book, though I probably didn’t find the critique as prevalent as other readers did. I decided this: since I come from a position of privilege as a white person, I don’t have a place to claim people’s views are invalid. And ultimately I have no place to speak on this subject.
Whether or not the book is problematic matters less when you realize it just isn’t good. I only liked one thing about the book: the main romantic relationship. If nothing else, Roth excels at creating slow burn relationships. I really liked Akos and Cyra together. I liked them so much, in fact, that I will probably read the sequel to Carve the Mark when it comes out.
Unfortunately they were all that I liked. I thought the world building was poor, and often confusing. Thuvhets and Shotets live on the same planet, but the description of the land and the division between their locations on the planet sounded like it is two separate planets.
Roth writes two types of death in this book. The first kind happens on-page, and remains permanent. The other death happens off-page, and the “dead” character ends up alive later in the book. If it happens once, good for the author for tricking us. If it happens more than once, the author has a problem fabricating death. I hate a book when death doesn’t stick; it makes death lose all the emotional impact!
Most of the side characters are either too evil to enjoy, under-developed or unimportant. There are also a lot of too-convenient plot connections.
At least it was better than Allegiant. But I also initially liked Allegiant, and hate it now, so perhaps my feelings toward Carve the Mark are destined to go down as well.