Many may have disliked the ending of Allegiant, Veronica Roth’s third novel, however I would urge them to give her newest, Carve the Mark a chance. Throughout the novels Roth has published, the theme of dead mothers and their daughters has been very prevalent. In Carve the Mark (January 2017) the protagonist Cyra Noavek is the accidental killer of her mother. In Roth’s Divergent trilogy, protagonist Tris Prior reels after the death of her mother in Divergent. Both characters liked to bottle up their feelings, but unfortunately for Cyra, the guilt she feels is used as a weapon against her by her brother Ryzek. The relationship between siblings, as it was in Roth’s Divergent, is an important part of Carve the Mark. The toxic dynamic between Cyra and Ryzek is in sharp contrast to the relationship between the second protagonist of Carve the Mark, Akos and his brother Eijeh. When both Akos and Eijeh are kidnapped by Ryzek, Akos promises to do anything to get Eijeh to safety- even if it means Akos sacrificing himself. This all seems a bit confusing, it was to me at least when I started Carve the Mark, but I promise you it’ll be much clearer once you’re fifty pages in.
Carve the Mark takes place in an alternate galaxy with nine major planets. Although only two are visited in the span of the novel, most all are mentioned briefly. The majority of the novel takes place on the planet Thuvhe, where two nations are on the brink of a major power struggle. Akos and Eijeh are natives of the planet and members of from the Thuvhe nation. Cyra and Ryzek are nobility from the devoutly religious, scavenger nation of Shotet, which settled on Thuvhe a couple generations ago. The Thuvhe nation dominates the planet, but the Shotet nation is looking to change that. Ryzek, the sovreign of the Shotet, captures Eijeh and Akos because of Eijeh’s gift for seeing into the future. Akos is simply collateral damage. When the brothers return to Ryzek’s court, Akos becomes useful as a reliever to the excruciating pain Ryzek’s sister Cyra experiences. The relationship between the four is always a little changing as unstable loyalties shift and promises are made and broken.
The theme of family- what makes a family, how far you would go for your family, and whether blood really thicker than water- runs rampant through Carve the Mark. It is perhaps why this novel is such a captivating read. I would reccommend picking this book up on a free weekend or long plane ride, because once you’ve picked it up, you won’t be able to to put it down.