The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth
From Goodreads: Fate brought them together. Now it will divide them.
The lives of Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth are ruled by their fates, spoken by the oracles at their births. The fates, once determined, are inescapable.
Akos is in love with Cyra, in spite of his fate: He will die in service to Cyra’s family. And when Cyra’s father, Lazmet Noavek—a soulless tyrant, thought to be dead—reclaims the Shotet throne, Akos believes his end is closer than ever.
As Lazmet ignites a barbaric war, Cyra and Akos are desperate to stop him at any cost. For Cyra, that could mean taking the life of the man who may—or may not—be her father. For Akos, it could mean giving his own. In a stunning twist, the two will discover how fate defines their lives in ways most unexpected.
With the addition of two powerful new voices, Veronica Roth’s sequel to Carve the Mark is a chorus of hope, humor, faith, and resilience.
Do you ever read a book that you think is fairly mediocre, and then you somehow forget about that when the next one in the series comes out, and you buy the sequel anyway? That’s exactly what happened to me with The Fates Divide. The warning signs were there, clear enough to see, and yet I brushed them aside and preordered it.
I shouldn’t have.
The Fates Divide is possibly the worst slog through a book I’ve had since Magonia in 2016. There were so many place names and people names and sci-fi stuff thrown in there that I didn’t understand, because Carve the Mark came out about two years ago. Although I think it’s a bit of a cheat to have a kind of overview/catch-up synopsis at the start of a novel, this one really could have done with it. Instead, we were thrust into the action, somehow expected to remember all the complicated character names, their connection to one another, the plot, the world, and everything else between. And my brain just wasn’t ready to handle it. Which was something of a shame, because I think if I’d understood what was going on at the start, Ii might have been more invested in the rest of the novel. Instead, I just kinda skimmed through it, feeling a bit like I was back in high school with a classic I hated but had to read for class.
The worldbuilding was also a huge cause of my confusion. I wasn’t sure where any of the characters were for most of the novel. It’s not that Roth doesn’t do description, it’s just that she chooses to do it in huge chunks where it isn’t really necessary– like describing councillor’s outfits and appearances. It’s not so bad, but it feels clunky in places it shouldn’t and sparse in places where I needed a bit of description. I’m about 90 percent sure that the characters jump from place to place in this book, so some kind of description of areas to ground me in the story would have been helpful.
And then there’s the narrators. There’s four POV in this one, and Roth does a thing where three of them are in first person [if I remember rightly] and one is in third person. There’s also the character’s name at the top of a new chapter, and yet without looking at that thing that basically telling me who is speaking, it sometimes took me a whole page or so to realize who was narrating. There just didn’t seem to be enough of a contrast between the characters for me, and they all became a big complicated mess.
I’m really loathe to totally roast a book without giving it any kind of redemption. For me, I think the one really cool thing was the way it played with agency and free will- the idea of fates controlling your life sounded pretty awesome to me. Most of the people in the world aren’t from a fated family, so they look at the people who are as though they’re incredible and brilliant. Obviously, anyone who has a nasty fate, like being told they will die in service to their enemy’s family, is less than thrilled and sees it more as a curse than a blessing. I liked the way Roth went about trying to figure out these fates in the story, even if I found the huge middle-of-the-book plot twist a bit cliche and dull.
Overall, I’d give The Fates Divide a 2/10. I read this like I was a person trying to pour fine sand through a sieve with gigantic holes. Nothing I read managed to stick with me, and my attention span for the plot lasted about a page each time.
I do know some people who really liked Carve the Mark. I’m not trying to say it was a terrible book, only that it wasn’t my cup of coffee. If you are a fan of books like Shatter Me, Divergent and the Red Rising series, this might be more up your street than mine. You can buy a copy of this book at Waterstones UK here [I should point out that some stores will have signed copies still], or you can buy on at Amazon UK here, or Book Depository here. WHSmiths is currently still doing signed copies here.