Carve the Mark – A Somewhat Controversial Review


30233110I’ve been wondering whether or not to post this. But, here we are. This is going to be a very controversial post. Be warned. Either read the whole post, or don’t read any of it. Only then will you get what I am saying.

While Angelica and I both read the novel, neither she nor I will be rating or reviewing it. Angelica’s reasons are her own, if she feels it she will make a post and let you know. My reasons for not doing so are that while I kind of liked the book, I don’t exactly know how I feel about it and have no words with which to review it. Also, I do not feel the need to add to the controversy of this book. Perhaps in the future I will find the words with which to express myself.

Before reading this novel I had heard nothing but mixed and negative reviews of the book, calling it racist and rude and all that sort of stuff. I also saw a lot of people rating this book one star, and writing rant reviews  without even reading it, all jumping on the hate filled bandwagon. Then I saw people who had previously liked the novel go on to refute their previous opinions after hearing the opinions of others. When things like this happen I try to block out those opinions and form my own. I refused to simply nod along and make uninformed assumptions on this book.

As with all reviews, this is my personal opinion, if you disagree with it, feel free to check out another of our post, or even another blog entirely for a review of this novel that is more to your liking, I won’t be offended.

This book was described as racist. As a person of color, I was not offended. Honestly, had I not seen the posts claiming otherwise, I would not have caught up on it. Those reviews describe the Shotet as the ‘dark skinned aggressors’, and yet, as I was reading, half of the Shotet were described as pale and blond. Then there are moments that say that because the Shotet were once nomads, which are not anymore by the way, they look very different, sharing traits from all over the galaxy. So, you can see why I did not really agree with that particular claim, and the evidence used to justify it. Still, after reading the book and looking through some of the reviews (the ones written by people who actually read the book) I did begin to see where some of the claims against the novel may be founded. Even then though, I did not feel overly offended, just had my eyes opened a bit more, as I am sure that Roth did not do this with any ill intent.

Sure, there are things that this book has that may be questionable, but so many YA novels are. No, I am not excusing those novels, or this one for that matter, I am laughing at the hypocritical reviewers who shower some of those books with praise and hate on this simply because it seems like the popular thing to do now. One can argue that Twilight is racist, putting the Native American savage wolves against the pale, white, refined vampires. Throne of Glass is racist, showing only two important POC and then having them savagely killed to further the plots of the straight, white main characters. They don’t get to save themselves or their people, only the white characters get to do that, despite all odds. Is that not subtle (or maybe not so subtle) racism? The very idea of white feminism, you can be great and a badass and live your dreams so long as you a white? I hear no one complaining of Throne of Glass or campaigning against it without having ever read it, for the sheer fun of joining the group.

Again, I am not justifying any racism in this book. I am pointing out the fact that people are hating on it without reading it, without taking a second glance at it because someone has made certain claims. These are the same people whom I have seen throw praise upon praise at books which are in my opinion, totally and completely racist. I am tired of long ranting reviews of people simply repeating the thoughts of others because they haven’t even bothered to read the book or know what it’s about.

If you think it’s racist (which it very well might be) let it be because you think so. Not because someone else thought so and you have decided to jump on the bandwagon.

If you want more information on the problematic nature of Carve the Mark, click here, to the review that started it all. Cast your own opinons from it.

Another thing I would like to mention is the thing that truly bothered me about the novel, as it was a thing that I noticed not by the prompting of others, but on my own, was the idea that chronic pain is deserved. In an interview, Roth speaks of the beauty of chronic pain and how it can be a blessing. I do not share the idea, and don’t think anyone else does. All through the novel, Roth tries to convince us that by having Cyra endure pain that she is strong. She forces the idea down our throats that only the worthy can endure pain and that to take pain onto ourselves we are showing bravery. I don’t buy it.  It bothered me that this was the idea she seemed to share.

Aside from these problems, the plot was not half bad It may have dragged a bit at first, but it quickly picked up. There was intrigue, mystery and action and I was really into it during the second half. The characters then were pretty interesting. I really liked both Akos and Cyra, despite the whole chronic pain=strength thing. While I was never too much a fan of Roth’s writing, her skill has gotten better since the Divergent series.

Again, for one final time, because I know that there is going to be that one person who is going to have something to say, I am not justifying racism in this book. I am not undermining your opinion. I am not disregarding the review mentioned above, as many good points were touched on. I am not saying that this trope of having the POC be the savages or aggressors should be prolonged. What I am saying, is to cast your own judgement on it, and maybe take a look at all the books you’ve read, that are on your shelves, probably even on your list of favorites, that are just, if not more, racist than this book, you just don’t notice because there is not an uproar about it.

These are my (Rosie’s) opinion, they do not reflect Angelica’s views in any way, nor do they represent the view of the overall blog. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and have the right to express them. If you do not agree with them, you can state your reasons why in the comments, as you are entitled to your own thoughts, but keep it civil.

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6 thoughts on “Carve the Mark – A Somewhat Controversial Review

  1. I really appreciate this post! I have not read Carve the Mark yet, but I do know that the controversy surrounding this book is very heated. Being able to stand back and take a look at everything calmly and figuring out your own opinion is something that is super important to me. Thank you for sharing your opinion. I found it very insightful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am glad you liked the post. I was hoping people would not be offended by my review and would use it to take a moment to think about it and for their own opinions on the matter. Thank you again for taking the time for reading it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! And you are totally allowed to not be offended by something and to have your own opinion! I feel like a lot of people jump on the bandwagon of things without giving something a chance. And unfortunately I’ve seen books panned for similar reasons before- even if they are not actually as problematic as people claim, so I do try to be open minded. And even worse is that people giving the other side of the debate or stating their opinion in their reviews are also shouted down for expressing these feelings. That said, I haven’t actually read this yet, and have to admit I was put off by some of the reviews (which goes to show what these negative reviews can do), but I’m glad to hear a more positive perspective on it (even if you had problems with some of the aspects) Anyway, really fantastic post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I am glad you liked it and realize what I was trying to do. I was kind of afraid to post this, afraid that people would be hating on it for not being part of the bandwagon. I have seen few reviews that praise the novel get shut down for supporting racists views and such, which is not at all true. As for the book, it’s not half bad. That said, I totally understand why some people aren’t reading it, not wanting to get dragged into this whole ordeal. But if you end up reading it I would love to see what you have to say about it.


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