Fantasy and Science Fiction Collide in Carve the Mark

This books was so, SO difficult for me to review. I feel like because this book was written by Veronica Roth, whose writing I have so admired, I’m more critical than I am of other writer’s books, which isn’t exactly fair.

That said, I LIKED this book. I did not LOVE this book. I really, REALLY wanted to love it, but it just fell a little short for me in a few areas.

That said, I truly think Veronica Roth is an amazing author and person, and she has layered some incredibly important themes in this book.

Wine Pairing

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

What better wine to pair with Veronica Roth’s HIGHLY anticipated new novel than this Starry Night Zinfandel. Fantasy meets science fiction in this novel, very much like the Van Gogh painting that inspired this gorgeous bottle of wine.

*All wine recommendations are for strictly for those of legal drinking age only.*

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Title: Carve the Mark
  • Author: Veronica Roth
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  • Pub Date: January 17, 2017
  • Pages: 468

GoodReads Description:

30117284On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

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 from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, 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. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth’s stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.


My Review


So, as usual, I want to start with my positive thoughts on this book. And there truly were a lot of positives here. I just didn’t LOVE it as much as I did the Divergent series.

One incredibly important theme in this novel was the potential horrors of colonialism and war, and how those things affect the people and culture of any nation that is under the threat of being conquered. The people of Shotet are *spoiler* an excellent example of both sides of this, since they have both been attacked by other nations and have become a warrior nation themselves in result. They’ve turned into a nation which the people of Thuve, as well as the inhabitants of other planets in their solar system, must fear.

I also found Cyra and Ryzek to be FASCINATING characters. The pain that Cyra is constantly in demonstrates how incredibly strong she is. But what makes her truly interesting is that her “gift” is driven by something deep within her. Is it that she wants to keep people at arms distance? Is it that she feels like she deserves the pain because of the pain her family has inflicted on others in the past? I’m not quite certain yet, but I do think it’s fascinating to think about, and I can’t wait to uncover even more about her character in the next book.

Like I said, I also found Ryzek to be captivating. His character was so clearly developed by his father’s abuse and his less than optimistic fate. I love that while he’s so entirely HORRIBLE, you can still see how much he despises being what he is and how hard it really is for him.

The biggest thing I struggled with in this book was that oftentimes it just felt a little too easy. I felt like Cyra and Akos overcame their animosity towards one another too easily. There just wasn’t enough tension there to really pull me into their romance.

I also thought several of the BIG action scenes felt a little rushed. I would have liked to have seen them drawn out a bit more. I want those types of scenes to have me on the edge of my seat, to make me feel anxious, and like I don’t know what is going to happen next. Unfortunately, in this story I felt like those scenes were a bit rushed and too easy for the characters to get through.

This isn’t a criticism exactly, more of an observation, but there were a lot of themes in Carve the Mark that were also explored in the Divergent series. For example: the abusive father, the mother that abandons her child for selfish reasons disguised as concern for the greater good, groups of people divided by their values, and older brothers that are just the WORST.

I did find the values that the various nations founded their cultures on were a bit strange. In Divergent we had intelligence, bravery, kindness, selflessness, and honesty. In Carve the Mark we have hushflowers, the current, mystery, and comfort. From what Veronica said at her signing last night, I think we’ll find out more about this topic in the next book, but at this point, those values seem a little odd.

Like I said at the beginning of this review I liked this book, but I just didn’t feel like it was as great as Veronica’s other books. I can’t help but compare this to Veronica’s other books, which I don’t feel is exactly fair to this book, but when you love an author’s work so much, it’s impossible to go into their next book without having certain expectations.

I am intrigued by this world, and I would really like to see Veronica develop it a lot more in the next book. Also, I want more Ryzek. I found him to be the most interesting character in the book hands down!


Cover Rating


The cover of this book is STUNNING. It’s simple, yet gorgeous. I love the contrast in colors and the sheen to the paper. Also, we noticed last night at the signing that the colors were slightly different in each of our books. The color varying from a brighter blue to a deeper purple, which is just REALLY cool.


Swoon Worthiness


Unfortunately, I did not love Akos in this book. I’m hoping to see more complexity in his character in the next book, but I just felt a little…MEH toward him in this book. Maybe it’s because he’s just too good, which probably says more about me than his character honestly. But I really, REALLY would have liked to have seen more tension between him and Cyra. As it was, their romance just didn’t grip me like Tris and Four’s did. Sorry! I cannot help but compare these books. I just can’t!

 About the AuthorAbout the Author


Veronica Roth is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of DivergentInsurgentAllegiant, and Four: A Divergent Collection. Ms. Roth and her husband live in Chicago.

You can visit her online at:


Other Books By This Author


Me and Veronica Roth!


Have you guys read Carve the Mark yet? What did you think of it? Are you going to read the next book in the series? Tell me your thoughts!

35 thoughts on “Fantasy and Science Fiction Collide in Carve the Mark

    • YAandWine says:

      So…I feel like as someone in a position of privilege, I’m not the most qualified judge. I feel like Roth left most of the physical descriptions of the characters super vague. So it was hard for me to really determine whether or not it was. I can see why people think that, because of the main characters were described very vividly. I just felt that there wasn’t enough clarity in the other people from both nations for me to make that determination. I might have totally missed something there though.

      Liked by 1 person

    • salmahsbookshelf says:

      I’m reading it now and I’m African American and Moroccan and I don’t find it racist. I respect others opinions but I think they were confused about the descriptions as Shotet people were described as POC and as white. I read the post on Justina Irelands blog where she said it was racist racist towards Islam (I’m Muslim) and North African culture (I’m North African) and I disagree. I think she had some misconceptions about Islam that influenced her thoughts. Hope that helps !

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    Honestly, I adored Divergant, but the series fell off for me quickly after that book. I was only sorta considering reading this before- but now I think I’ll pass. I am intrigued by the premise, but I execution seems off. Oh well! Some books just aren’t for me.
    That said, I’m glad you still enjoyed this book even if the hype let you down. Hopefully the next one will hook you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Megan @ bookslayerReads says:

    Lovely review. I haven’t even read the Divergent series yet, but I have been highly anticipating Carve the Mark. That cover is just amazing! Maybe since I haven’t read anything by Veronica Roth yet, my opinion will be different, I don’t know. But let’s hope, because this one has been on my TBR forever! Anxiously waiting for it to be published. Lol. Again, great review! Sorry it didn’t live up to par for you!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Megan @ bookslayerReads says:

        I know it’s been published, just hoping I can get through some of these ARC deadlines so I can finally get my hands on it! Can’t wait!

        Liked by 1 person

      • YAandWine says:

        Oh, gotcha. I hear you. I have so many I’m going to try to get through this week! 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼 I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. You can tell me if I’m being overly judgmental because of her other books. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  3. sophiethestark says:

    I haven’t read this one yet but definitely will have to put it off for a while… I’ve read a lot of negativity surrounding it and I think it has diminished my interest quite a bit. The fact that I wasn’t a fan of Divergent in the first place also plays a part, but I definitely wanted to see her progress with this one.

    Lovely review, of course, and I always enjoy your wine suggestions! I’m not a connoisseur by any means so it helps finding the perfect one for the perfect occasion 🙂 I also find it an awesome concept!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. YAandWine says:

    That seems to be what a lot of readers are thinking at the moment. I mean, I did like it, it just wasn’t something that I loved.

    And thank you so much! I love your blog concept too! What’s better than chocolate and wine?!


  5. Azia says:

    Fabulous review! I’m sorry it didn’t quite live up to your expectation, but hopefully the next book will be much more satisfying. I haven’t read the Divergent series just yet, so maybe my expectations from the author will be kept low, just in case. But I’ve been really looking forward to reading this one. The cover is really gorgeous and the premise is intriguing!

    Liked by 1 person

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