I’ve always been fascinated by indigenous culture and way of thinking and being. There is just something special about how they see the world that is just so true. It’s all about nature, being in harmony with nature etc – it’s almost magical.
I’m not indigenous and this review is not an own voice review. I’m probably not the right person to review this book, but I feel I need to spread the word about this book because it was amazing!
From my My TBR in-depth: Diverse Own Voice Fantasy & Sci-Fi Books I Really Want To Read post earlier I had a few indigenous authors on my list. Cherie Dimaline was one. Discovering she is Canadian and I could read this book during the Read-Eh-Thon (TBR and wrap-up posts) was the “Cherie” on the top 😂
The Marrow Thieves
by Cherie Dimaline
Synopsis from GoodReads
In a futuristic world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America’s Indigenous people, and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. But getting the marrow, and dreams, means death for the unwilling donors. Driven to flight, a fifteen-year-old and his companions struggle for survival, attempt to reunite with loved ones and take refuge from the “recruiters” who seek them out to bring them to the marrow-stealing “factories.”
first nation/indigenous culture
the raw reality described with raw words
This book blew my mind! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this was not it. I loved it and I can’t wait to re-read it.
The story follows French who starts the book with his coming-to story. “Story” is a big feature in this book and very nicely adds the space for the background story to how this world ended up where it is and to other people in the group.
I really liked how the story is very focused on people and different human emotions.
As the story progresses you learn with them some of their way of life, how to hunt and track, and how people can deceive you. You learn what matters in life, in their lives.
There where two massive surprises in this book, to me anyway, which I love cause I don’t often get surprised in books. Though for the sad scenes I didn’t cry. Maybe I’ll cry when I re-read it.
I also noticed the story is very closed off, in a way. Right this will be difficult to explain so bear with me. There is only one perspective in this story, French. Through his eyes, you see what he sees and interact with others. This interaction never goes on for long before you are back inside French’s head. You only get what French gets. In a way, it’s limiting. But at the same time, it creates a distance from everyone else. On top of this, there are two types of bad guys; internal and external. External bad guys, they are just that; a cloud-of-bad over there, not here. They are the harvesters and are not described in detail, they don’t have a voice. Yes, they are based on history and referred to as similar to the settlers back in the day. But there are no finger pointing or accusations. Again they are just a generalised cloud-of-bad. Dressing them in uniform also added to the cloud-of-bad effect. It was very efficient but subtle. So basically, you are French. You get the opportunity to be indigenous for a little bit and forget who you are. You get a feel for the pain and terror of being hunted, and through that what the past (and even present ) might have been like. This is what books are all about – getting life experience through others. And why reading diversely is so extremely important!
It’s a slow a steady uphill climb this world building. You don’t get the whole explanation in the first chapter, and possibly not in the first half of the book either. Come to think of it, I don’t think you get a full explanation at all. But somehow that sets a mood in this book. the bit of not knowing, the unknown. We are quick to understand they are hunted but it later builds up on why.
“Story” is where the past is explored but passes for how knowledge is passed on to the younger generation. One of my favourites was the story only told to the girls about men with hungry eyes. It gives depth to the culture and an age to it.
French is the main character and I really liked him. As the book starts with his coming-to story, it clearly shows his quick progress of growing up. Especially when in the beginning he’s yelling at a guinea pig then later feels sorry for being mean, or how he has an “available and edible” mental list of foods in the wild which he adds to as he tries them. Then, later on, he behaves more like a teenager/young man in regards to females. I did love how respectful he was to his female co-characters.
I loved it when his love interest enters the story and how he thought about her, etc. I feel the author really capsulated a teenage boy with a crush here! Well done!
Yes! An M/M married couple.
I don’t really know how Native Americans/First Nations or any other indigenous group of people view LGBT+ people, but I have a feeling they view it as nature’s course. It doesn’t make sense to me that they should view it negatively. Obviously, there are different clans/groups etc who might have different viewpoints.
The writing was easy and flowing. I liked how the author described something just as they are which added some realness to it; “I even pissed on the run, dribbling down on my duct-taped boot” 😂 The humor also makes it more down to earth and real, like how sore your legs are if they were “marinated in old adrenaline” 😆.
“Story” quickly became quite atmospheric and almost my favourite part of the book.
The addition of the indigenous languages was great! I’m a language nerd and really enjoyed this. I asked around on twitter if this book was available anywhere as an audiobook so I can actually hear the language. And it is! Kobo has the audiobook and a free trial. I’ve never tried Kobo so this will be a first for me, but I really want to hear these languages out loud and to re-read this book! I think there were three indigenous languages used in this book.
I’m not surprised this book won so many awards, it’s amazing! Writing this review really makes me want to read it again. I can’t wait to re-read it! I’m definitely picking up every single book Cherie Dimaline has ever written!
Highly recommend to everyone!!
Have you read this? What did you think?