Divergent author Veronica Roth is finally ready to talk about her upcoming Carve the Mark sequel, The Fates Divide.
In the second and final book of the Carve the Mark duology, Roth reveals how teenagers Cyra and Akos, once at odds, fulfill their fates together. The Fates Divide features themes like hope and resilience and is told from four perspectives, as the lives of its two heroes are ruled by their fates spoken by the oracles at their births. Of course, a little romance gets in the way as well.
Carve the Mark, released in January, landed atop the New York Times best-seller list and left many fans enthused about its sci-fi elements and relatable teen conflicts. Yet the book also faced accusations of racism and criticisms for its portrayal of chronic pain, in its fantastical depiction of various planetary species of “blended origins.” Roth issued a response and engaged in the conversation.
In an exclusive interview with EW, Roth touches on the backlash and how it informed the way she approached The Fates Divide. She also teases what fans can expect from the second book, as she steers this new duology to a conclusion she hopes is satisfying to all.
The Fates Divide will be released April 10, 2018. Pre-order it here. Read on below for the interview, where you can also check out the book’s official cover, exclusive to EW.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you approach this second book, working off of Carve the Mark?
VERONICA ROTH: The more books I write, the more of a planner I become! I didn’t used to be, but I think the longer you go on the more you realize you can make it easier for yourself by coming up with a plan beforehand. I definitely had an outline, but it’s important to balance having a sense of direction with leaving room for spontaneity. You don’t always know what’s not going to work once it’s on the page. That was how I tried to approach it: If it wasn’t working, I had to be willing to change it.
How would you compare the way you’ve moved in this series to the Divergent series?
I think I was learning a lot as I went with the Divergent series, so I structured it in such a way that I had to reveal a lot of information in the third book and I also set up a couple things in the first book that were really hard to navigate in the other books. This time, I tried to do a lot more thinking beforehand. Even if I knew some things would have to change, I had at least considered some of those world-building questions and those plot structure questions. This time I felt more experienced.
What kind of themes are you exploring this follow-up, both continuations and new ones?
I wanted to send everyone to new worlds. There’s all these planets in this solar system and in the first book we really only see one. One of the most exciting parts of it was writing about Ogra, which was introduced in the first book as this shadow planet — it’s mysterious, no one has met Ograns, they don’t know how they live or what their world looks like. A substantial portion of The Fates Divide takes place on that planet, so we get to see how the shadow planet lives. That was really exciting. But on a bigger note, one of the biggest ideas I tried to tackle is what young women do with power. The book is so centered on not just Cyra but on Akos’ sister, Cisi, and there are all these very different young women. It’s very important to me because I think young women are portrayed a lot as being petty and shallow in pop culture. I don’t really see that all. I wanted to show how young women navigate difficult situations — not perfectly, but with more depth and more care than people give them credit for.
How do you approach balancing that with the world-building in this complicated sci-fi world you’ve created?
I try to make sure they’re tied together. These women come from specific places, so the important thing is to show how these places affect who they’ve become. That way you can tie character and world-building together. Everyone is a product of their culture in some way, and how they buy into that culture’s priorities, how they deviate from it, is an important part of character and world-building.
These main characters are teens coming together from drastically different backgrounds. What do they mean to you?
You kind of touched on it in that question: They’re at odds. They’re born to hate each other. It’s not an exaggeration of what we experience in adolescence. When you’re at the age, you’re trying to figure out what your parents or your elders taught you that you want to hold onto and what you need to question or let go of. These characters have been taught overly simplistic versions of what each other is, and they have to create space for those definitions to become more nuanced and more complicated. For me, it’s capturing what I think is a universal teen experience — it certainly was mine. I was raised in a very white, wealthy environment and had to tackle my own questions about how the world really works as I grew up. It’s such an essential part of forming yourself as a person.
For fans of Carve the Mark, is there anything surprising in store you can tease?
What happens in the first few chapters will probably be surprising! It’s pretty dramatic for a start to the story, and there’s some things that happen that you, going back, can see the seeds of in the first book, but might not have noticed the first time around, Hopefully it will be very satisfying for those readers who like to re-read and look back and go, “Oh, man, it was there all along!” That sort of thing.
Carve the Mark did generate a backlash for what some saw as problematic racial elements. You’ve spoken on it before, but did that reader response in form the way you approached some aspects of this second book?
Really, all the cultures and planets in Carve the Mark have blended origins, so every culture or group has a wide variety of representation. The only way that it really changed the way I approached book two is I tried to make physical descriptions very clear so there wasn’t the same confusion. Otherwise, I take these conversations to heart. I think they’re super important and I try to consider my privilege. But it didn’t really affect the world-building because the world-building that I intended was already there; it was just misinterpreted. It didn’t affect it so much, but I also really relish the opportunity to create these new planets, to show a little more of the galaxy so it’s not just one people against another people. It’s a huge variety of cultures and viewpoints. Hopefully book two just expands our understanding of the Carve the Mark universe.