A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about different fighting styles, about ritualistic responses to killing/death, and how different people who share a homeland might have linguistic, cultural, and philosophical differences despite their proximity.
Individuals shouldn't be judged by stereotypes about their heritage/people. Groups of people are complicated, and sharing a homeland can be incredibly difficult to navigate. Women and girls and be strong and capable. Men and boys can be vulnerable and emotional. Vulnerability and courage are both portrayed as character strengths, as are empathy and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Cyra is intelligent, resourceful, and an expert fighter. Akos is intuitive, vulnerable, and empathetic. They have complementary gifts, help each other, and want to protect each other from physical and figurative pain. Their love motivates a lot of the story. They both have flaws and occasionally make questionable decisions, but they're motivated by a desire to help. Cisi is extremely empathetic and able to soothe others.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of violence: torture, murder, poisoning, and executions. A character working undercover names names, even with the knowledge that the person named will be killed. Attempted poisonings. A character murders another character and blames the death on someone else. Military attacks kill hundreds of civilians. A character is starved repeatedly to lower his abilities. A character nearly kills another and blames someone else. Lots of pain and near-fatal injuries.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Passionate kissing, making out, and a couple of love scenes that fade to black but make clear that a couple has made love. Another couple also kisses, declares their love, and eventually marries.
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Infrequent use of "s--t" as an exclamation, as well as "bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
People take medicine and teas made from iceflower; it can be medicinal or recreational. People purposely poison others with plant-derived drugs. Occasional drinking. One main character heavily relies upon the herbal medications to manage chronic pain. Adults drink at meals.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Fates Divide: Carve the Mark, Book 2 is the final book in best-selling author Veronica Roth's space fantasy duology. The twist-filled story includes even more fantasy violence and romance than its predecessor. There's murder (up close and personal) and mass military attacks that leave many dead. There are executions, imprisonment, and battles. The characters continue to exhibit their unique gifts that can persuade, torture, even kill. The slow-burn romance finally ignites in this installment, with the few kisses of the first book growing into full-blown passion and a couple of love scenes (but they aren't explicit). Language includes mild insults and a few uses of "s--t." The book continues to explore refreshingly unconventional gender roles, with Cyra the expert fighter and Akos the vulnerable healer. Some critics have pointed out problematic depictions of skin color and chronic pain, but that's open to interpretation. The story promotes the message that groups of people are more than the stereotypes about them and calls into question nurture vs. nature and the destructive effect of discrimination.
Is It Any Good?
Roth's second book in the Carve the Mark duology is an introspective, romantic, character-based follow-up to the world-building of the first novel. There are some undeniable truths in this series: that Cyra and Akos love each other, that their fates are intertwined, that the Shotet and the Thuhve must learn to co-exist or risk annihilating one another. Roth approaches big themes from a personal perspective. In addition to Cyra's and Akos' points of view, this sequel includes Akos' siblings Eijeh's (the oracle whose mind was addled with Ryzek's memories) and Cisi's (who can shift others' moods) perspectives. Cyra's first-person chapters remain the most immediate and relatable, whereas Akos' third-person chapters swing between reflective and sympathetic to a bit slow.
Akos experiences a lot of growth, however, as does Cyra. [Spoiler] There's an interlude when the two aren't physically together, and it's heartbreaking but necessary for both of them to fulfill their destinies and save the world. Cyra and Akos must figure out whether their love is a choice or a foregone conclusion because of the prophecies about their lives. There's an almost biblical quality to their love story, as well as the complicated family dynamics surrounding the Noaveks and Kereseths in this second installment. Like Ruth and Naomi's "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people," Akos lovingly tells to Cyra: "In case you hadn't noticed... I'll pretty much go with you anywhere."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.