Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Book Review: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (Canada Reads 2018)
Source: Personal Copy
Publisher: Dancing Cat Books
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."
I picked up The Marrow Thieves because it was short listed for Canada Reads 2018. I was really happy to see an Indigenous book in the selections. I've read alot of books by Native American writers but this was my first Young Adult/Dystopian/Indigenous read. I wasn't sure what I would think about it, but I went in with no expectations. I haven't been reading alot of Young Adult books lately because I don't seem to relate to them and was hesitant about this book. As I started to read this book, I was really drawn into the concept and world. Climate change has wreaked havoc on the world, and people in North American have lost the ability to dream which has led to madness. When it is discovered that Indigenous people are the only ones who still have the ability to dream, they're hunted down. Their bone marrow is harvested and used to cure those who are dreamless. It's clear that Indigenous people are not considered human, they're a commodity, they're objects- used to benefit others.
When Frenchie's brother gives up to save him, Frenchie is left all alone. He's vulnerable and lonely. We really start to see how dire the situation is. Even when Frenchie meets up with others, trust is a big issue. We see loss of language, loss of culture but we also see survival and resistance. The characters in this novel can easily appeal to a larger audience and I think it does a great job making these characters relatable. Alot of Indigenous reads can feel very "in your face" and threatening, where I feel like this story is different. It's not so harsh and heavy, and will keep people reading. The dystopian setting is a great technique to open readers minds. I think this book will do well in the Canada Reads debates. The theme this year is "One Book To Open Your Eyes" and I think this book fits the theme very well. We need to get people talking about Indigenous issues, and in 2018 it's more important than ever.