Veronica Roth is perhaps one of the better known writers of Young Adult dystopian fiction. Divergent was made into a film and Roth has a certain multimedia or crossover appeal. In this her latest novel, she stretches her oeuvre to include science fiction, setting this book in a different galaxy with two main planets peopled by the Shotet and Thuvhe. So far the book has raised some degree of controversy across social media and Goodreads, with many claims being made about it including one of racism. There is definitely a very one-dimensional aspect to Roth’s world building here – her planets are very plainly drawn, with only one ‘race’ on each planet. Given the nature of the book, however, this is probably just as well because it has a convoluted and complicated set of opening chapters as narrative points of view swap around, and main characters and their various abilities and personalities are introduced. Adding more detail to an already stretched narrative would possibly render it unreadable.
As it stands, Roth is a good story teller and her ability to capture a unique voice for each character/ narrative section is what propels the novel forwards. It’s a good story, even if it seems to rely on dichotomies, and if those presented sometimes seem forced or cliché. There’s a lot of invention and novelty here too, and a strong female character, Cyra.
Carve the Mark is science fiction with broad appeal, it won’t just be read by science fiction fans. Roth fans will devour it in a few sittings, whilst there is enough in it to keep everyone reading, even if just to see what caused such controversy, and whether it warranted it.