By GEO CABRAL
Space travel and superpowers, throw in some angst, humor, action and romance — you get a picture of what Veronica Roth’s (Divergent series) new novel Carve The Mark is about. In this whole new universe that Roth has created, people are born with “currentgifts,” which are special abilities that are a manifestation of the kind of person that they are. It has intergalactic elements, as we are presented with what is essentially a solar system of nation-planets with different cultures, beliefs, and practices, all joined together under the collective governing of the Assembly.
The story centers on a particular planet, Thuve, or more specifically the conflict that exists between the people that live on it. On the one hand there are the Thuvesits, called as they are for being citizens of Thuve. And on the other, there are the Shotet, a people not recognized as a nation, and are enemies of the Thuvesits.
The novel is narrated using two points of view: the lives of Akos Kereseth and Cyra Noavek. Akos is from the village of Hessa on the planet Thuve. He is the son of a farmer, and an oracle, with a pretty unusual currentgift. Cyra, on the other hand, is Shotet royalty, and is the sister of the current sovereign of Shotet. She is often exploited by her brother due to her dangerous abilities.
The story itself is rich with details about the cultures, beliefs, and practices, of the two different people (and even delves into a bit of the cultures of the other nation-planets).
Roth does well to describe this new universe she has created, through the eyes of both Akos and Cyra, and the interactions that they have with each other, as their lives are forced to intersect. The book also shows us the tension and conflict when their personal beliefs, personalities, ancestry, and even their destinies, intertwine and mingle with one another. Roth gives us vivid imagery of what is happening, both around the characters, and inside their own thoughts, as they battle their personal demons, and reflect on their past, present, and future.
On the other side of that same coin, this also means that the book had a particularly slow build. In Roth’s quest to narrate to her viewers not only the lives of Akos and Cyra, but also their histories, and this entire new universe that we are now being introduced to, the story takes a bit of a slow progression. There were lots of narratives and near endless details, from the overarching plot, down to tiny details, like personal habits, and detailed narrations of places. To put it simply, it is a bit of a slow and long read, for a book that is supposed to be introductory. Needless to say, the book’s rich details and narratives have both its pros and cons.
All in all, Carve The Mark is a brand new adventure, into a new universe with a new set of characters. The first book itself is a lot to go on, as there has already been a lot of the story that’s been told. But it’s also very clear that this is just the beginning, and that Veronica Roth will be taking us deeper into the lives of the characters, the new conflicts that await them, and the new adventures they will embark on, with everything that happened at the end of the novel.
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Carve the Mark is available at National Book Store.