Author Review | Veronica Roth

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A lot of you are wondering why I no longer support Veronica Roth and I will explain all of that shortly.

Let me start of by saying that I enjoyed the Divergent Series….for the most part anyway. I found Insurgent a little boring and I hated the ending of Allegiant. With that series, I liked the world that she created, the factions were interesting, and I like that she didn’t give in to the overdone love triangle trope. Apparently she’s releasing a conclusion to the series but as you know, I won’t be reading it.

Don’t get me wrong, she is a good author. Her writing style and world building are good, I just don’t agree with someone of the choices that she’s made and it makes me question her as a person.

Her latest novel Carve the Mark has been stirring up some controversy. The first issue is with the portrayal of chronic pain. Apparently she was inspired by her friends who have chronic illnesses but some readers feel that her using it was a bad decision. While I have a chronic illness, I have very little pain associated with it, so I’ve been reading responses from people who do experience chronic pain. The issue arises with the fact that she chose to refer to this pain as a “gift.” It’s actually sort of ironic because she talked about how it’s often hard to find a doctor who takes the pain seriously, which is something that a lot of people can attest too. So I’m a little confused as to how she felt that she was doing any better by giving a false portrayal. Fantasizing someone else’s pain doesn’t help raise awareness, nor is it the kind of representation that is needed.

The other issue, is that she’s been called out for racism. In the novel she has a “light-skinned, straight-haired race of peaceful people (Thuvhe) warring against a dark-skinned, curly-or-thick-haired race of warriors (Shotet).Those are her words so you can already see where the issue comes in.

In an extremely long Tumblr response (link below) she starts by saying that she is aware that she must listen to marginalized groups. She then goes on to say,

“The harmful trope that has specifically been brought up in connection with Carve the Mark is that of a dark-skinned, aggressive, savage fantasy race.”

You can see here that even she is acknowledging that this is harmful. Then she talks about how the same trope appears in Lord of the Rings although I don’t see why the hell that matters. Just because other people do it, doesn’t make it right.

Anyway, she goes on to explain that while these stereotypes are seen in works of fiction, they do have very real affects,

“These real world stereotypes in many ways contribute to actual harm, historically with colonialism, enslavement, and the dehumanization and murder of dark-skinned people; and currently, in microaggressions, racial profiling, and police brutality, among other things.”

She hit the nail on the head. These things are absolutely true and still have an effect on people whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. She even goes on to provide links to more information on this trope and the one surrounding white saviors (another huge issue).

Anyway, she then goes on to say that she made the distinction between the two groups that way so that she could blend them and show how the groups were connected.

Clearly she is very aware of race relations in the world today and the historical context of them. In her post she says all of that. She also has done a lot of research to create these two groups of people. She also acknowledges that she is a white person portraying a harmful trope, which a lot of people probably wouldn’t bother to do.

My issue with this whole thing is that checking your privilege and doing research won’t mean a damn thing if you still choose to promote problematic stereotypes. What she didn’t explain was how or why she still thought that it was acceptable to write what she did, knowing that it would be upsetting for people who actually care about and are affected by these things.

Yes, she is an author. Yes, she can write whatever she wants. But don’t sit there and try to claim that you understand your privilege and that you’re an ally if you’re going to use hurtful portrayals of people who aren’t like you to make money.

The worst part about it all is that someone actually recommended this book to me and probably didn’t even”notice” that it was problematic or would upset me.

You don’t have to agree with me, you don’t have to like it, but you are more than welcome to start a discussion.

Typically authors that I DNF would get 1 star but she gets 2 out of 5 because I actually did enjoy her previous work.


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About Bookmark Chronicles

Hi! I'm Rae. 23. Avid Reader, Book Blogger. Intersectional Feminist. Gryffindor.
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25 Responses to Author Review | Veronica Roth

  1. hmills96 says:

    The book is all around just a mess of awful, and she didn’t see it until the reviewers read and were hurt by it. She’s tried to backtrack too many times and can’t seem to keep her apologies straight. It’s a problem, and I can’t support her anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So I just finished reading Carve The Mark and the thing about the representation of racism is that shotet and Thuve are mixed race. Neither are wholly white or wholly black.. which is something I will be discussing in a post with direct quotes later. For example, the main character Cyra is darker skinned, but her brother is white. However, the issue with chronic pain and self-harm is very harmful for many people as you beautifully pointed out. There is many things to be discussed in this novel and there are many many flaws within it. I think it’s really important to discuss them and to think about how we think about books like this in the future.

    Like

    • Yes, I know that the cultures have been mixed, I mentioned that. But even her description of them (and even the description of the back of the book) still portrays those stereotypes. She admitted that they were harmful and still used them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry about that, I think I read a part of your post a bit wrong. It is a very harmful trope that needs to be discussed and does not belong in literature. There are so many things about this book that could be considered harmful and I think in many ways it just makes me sad to see such a celebrated author tank like that when her book should have had a sensitivity reading so that it could have been changed into something better. I hate that these are the things that exist and I hope that this becomes a teaching tool for authors in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can totally agree with everything you said! These issues have been addressed so many times and yet I still see people who give this book 4 or 5 stars because they’re unaware of the problems of this book, it baffles me! And same, I liked Roth’s Divergent series but I just can’t support her anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ashley says:

    I took this book off of my TBR when people started speaking out about it. I won’t be buying any more of her books.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad I read so many people’s reviews of this book book before wasting money buying it and will definitely not be buying anymore of her books in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. thebookcorps says:

    This is a great post! I never finished the Divergent series and have no interest in reading Carve the Mark (primarily because it was a hype book but now because of all the issues coming out from it). I used to suffer from chronic pain – actually in February this year I had to have surgery to correct it and now I no longer suffer and I can’t even begin to explain how happy I am – and I don’t think I would like hearing about pain being referred to as a “gift.” It reminds me of a literature class I had in high school: I can’t remember how the discussion about mental illness came about, but my teacher – a woman well into her 40s – said that she thinks people with mental illness should not take medication because it “dims the world around them, and wouldn’t you want to be able to experience life, instead of living in a fog?”
    Ummmmmm……??????
    I’m sorry, but someone who doesn’t have any personal knowledge into an issue should not be casting such a problematic and, frankly, dangerous opinion. At that time I was taking medication (for my chronic pain) and I remember being so upset that she suggesting I stop taking something that gave me relief and allowed me to go out and enjoy the world – and I can’t imagine how someone who had mental illness felt.
    The fact is my teacher didn’t stop to think that her privilege was allowing her to think of medication like that – she has never had to take it and doesn’t understand why people should. Much like how Veronica Roth comes from a position of privilege and, instead of using that privilege to make people aware of racial issues – writes a book about problematic stereotypes.
    Wow, this turned into a mini tangent and I didn’t mean it to! Who knows, maybe one day I might be interested in Carve the Mark and read it to cast my own opinion, but at the moment, I have no interest.
    This was a really great post! Keep up the good work 😀

    Like

    • Thank you!! I’m sorry that you had to experience chronic pain but I am very glad that you don’t have to anymore.
      A teacher said that? That’s awful. This is why I believe teachers should take mandatory diversity training. That should never have happened. I don’t think people realize how important medication is for some people but instead of doing research and educating themselves they say horrible things like that. UGH!
      I don’t mind the mini tangent at all, thank you for sharing your story! And thank you for the kind words, I really appreciate it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is the exact same reason why I am not reading any of her stuff. I don’t like how she agrees that what she has portrayed is harmful yet she is still making money off it. And the annoying thing is that because this book has caused an uproar people have gone out to buy it to experience it for themselves…just so that they can say it is harmful…and because of that, it is now on the bestsellers list. I have read about Tolkien, and I guess there is always going to be the debate about whether or not his work is racist or not. He mentioned that in the bible there is the whole “light vs dark” which is what elves vs orcs stemmed from – but at the end of the day I guess none of us will know what is intent was. Roth however, has taken races and cultures and twisted them around, furthering the notion that “dark is always evil or savage”. So yes, I completely 100% agree with you and am with you in not reading any more of her books. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! That’s disappointing that it’s a best seller because people want to “see for themselves” Even the description of the book hints toward the issue. I would say that I hope Roth has learned her lesson but since this book is a part of a duology it probably doesn’t even matter to her.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ariel Lynn says:

    Wow… just wow. There’s so much wrong here, I don’t even know where to start. Thank goodness you do!!

    I see that the quotation you used, “light-skinned, straight-haired race of peaceful people (Thuvhe) warring against a dark-skinned, curly-or-thick-haired race of warriors (Shotet)” was part of a (only minutely) longer quotation, where she says that it’s a concerned raised by her critics. She then goes on to explain how she purposefully described certain characters to show they were mixed race…

    … but, I still think you’re right. The outliers she describes aren’t enough to detract from the fact that she repeated a harmful trope. It absolutely sounds like an excuse for something she didn’t think through. She didn’t have to, considering her position of privilege. 😦

    As for the “gift” of constant pain… she can go right off & f*** herself for that one. I have fibromyalgia &, lemme tell you, while I’m told often how “strong” I am, I’d trade all that strength in a heartbeat for one day, just one, without pain. >.<

    I'm rather frustrated now, as I already own the first in the Divergent series. I won't be able to look at it the same anymore. Or without cursing the author for using marginalized people for "entertainment." 😦

    Like

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