I was sick a good part of this last week, and while it was not fun, I got a lot of reading and querying done. I read three books:
…re-read one (Smart by Scattered by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare) and queried eight agents. To query a book agent means to send a short pitch and sample pages to agents to ask them to consider representing one’s book to publishers. It’s basically a cover letter and a resume. One has already responded and requested a “partial,” which is exciting. I try not to get my hopes up about these things, though, until they request full manuscripts.
Of the books I read, the one I’d most like tell you about is Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth. This author also penned the Divergent series. This is her first book since those wildly popular books were published and made into movies. Carve the Mark is Divergent meets Star Wars. It is huge in scope, political, personal, and intense.
Book Review: Carve the Mark
In fact, Amazon says that “fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in…[this] new science-fiction fantasy series.” It’s about people on a planet that is part of a nine-planet galaxy and political system, all of which are powered by “the current.” This “current” is the visible “life force” of the galaxy, and is visible during space travel and manifested in “currentgifts,” or unique powers possessed by the people on those planets. Cyra and Akos, the two main characters, come from opposite parts of the planet and have very different currentgifts, which makes them both pawns in Cyra’s brother’s quest for domination of the planet, but in very different ways. Cyra’s currentgift enables her to inflict pain on others with just one touch, but it also causes her a lot of pain. Akos’s currentgift alleviates her pain but also keeps him captive to Cyra, whose brother kidnapped him and his brother Eijeh for their gifts. Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and is desperate to get his brother–an oracle– out of Shotet (Cyra’s nation)n and home to Thuvhe. When he’s thrust into Cyra’s world to alleviate her pain, it’s in direct opposition to what he wants to accomplish.
It’s a complicated plot because it takes in deep motives, threads regarding all the members of Akos’ and Cyra’s families, visits to various other planets, whole governments, and a number of years. But it’s not an “adult” or epic sci-fi on the level of Neil Gaiman or Robert Blish. It’s focus is on main characters who are are roughly in their early twenties, and on their personal struggles of identity and family relationships. But the power struggles of those surrounding them very much play into their personal struggles. Because of that, I think it would appeal to both younger and older readers of science fiction.
But there is definitely a good amount of violence, some swearing, and a darker feel to some of the characters, especially Cyra, so the youngest of those younger readers would probably do best to avoid Carve the Mark.
As much as I like science fiction, I don’t usually enjoy reading books about interplanetary politics; they’re not usually my cup of tea. But I still very much liked this book because it didn’t go overboard on the politics, it had fleshed-out, full characters, and great prose. In that respect, it also reminded me also of Young Elites by Marie Lu.
So, overall, was it good? Was it worth the 468 pages it took to read it and the $13 price I paid for it? You bet. I’d do it again. It’s a solid contribution to both the YA the science fiction genres, and a very intriguing read.