Everyone in the galaxy has a gift, similar to a magical talent, which develops during puberty. Few have a fate, an inevitable future event in their lives. Akos and his brother have fates, which makes them dangerous, despite being only the children of a farmer and an oracle. Cyra and her older brother, the children of a bloodthirsty emperor, also have fates. When their identities and fates are revealed, the lives of these four intertwine in ways that no one, not even the oracles, foresaw.

Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent Series, recently released her latest novel, Carve the Mark. It’s a mixture of fantasy, dystopian, light romance, historical reimagining, and, most strongly, science fiction. Spaceships, advanced technology, and foreign planets comprise a fantastic world full of complex cultures and beautiful imagery. Yet, extraordinary abilities and prophesying exist alongside Roman coliseums, tyrannical emperors, and intentions of world dominance. Roth layers these literary elements over each other to form an unforgettable story world.

Carve the Mark explores many deep, even dark, themes. It is not recommended for readers younger than fourteen. Cyra suffers constant, excruciating pain, which she is capable of sharing with others through a single touch. As the daughter and sister of bloodthirsty emperors, she becomes a tool for their use. Readers need only imagine the pain Cyra experiences to realize how dark the themes must be for her to have a successful character arc.

Veronica Roth does an exemplary job of helping readers understand, and even like, characters such as broken, cruel Cyra. Carve the Mark demonstrates that even the worst people have a backstory and a reason for their heartlessness—and that they can be redeemed by unconditional love. It also shows that all people have both good and evil within them.

Veronica Roth combines several genres, bridging the gap between them. Science fiction and fantasy, which are both extremely similar and extremely different, are difficult to blend. Sci-fi focuses on science and technology in order for the characters to travel to other planets, build spaceships, etc. The magic of fantasy defies science, which normally makes the genres incompatible. But Roth deftly melds them by adding elements of both without creating a conflict of interests. Writers can follow her example to step out of the boundaries surrounding the traditional genres to write something entirely new and unique, as long as they hold to logical explanations of the combinations.

Carve the Mark is an intriguing novel and the story world is unlike any other. It can provide inspiration for sci-fi and fantasy writers looking for a universe that successfully fuses the two genres. Readers can learn more by delving into the book themselves.