Friday 9 April 2021

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimanline

 Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction

Published: September 1, 2017 by Dancing Cat Books 

Pages: 231 

Rating: 4/5 stars 

CW: blood and gore, racism against Indigenous people, colonization, violence 

Futuristic Earth is ravaged by global warming, and it has impacted the world so that non-Indigenous people cannot dream. The inability to dream leads to madness, and a group of people known as "recruiters" are scouring North America for the cure. The cure lies in the bone marrow of Indigenous people, who are now on the run from the people who want to steal their marrow and wipe out their nations. Fifteen year old Frenchie and his friends are a few of the many Indigenous teens that are trying their hardest to reconnect with old family members and stay hidden from the recruiters. But, will they make it across the continent alive? 

I picked up this book on a whim because I had heard good things about it. Boy was I blown away by it! It was suspenseful, tense, and a great addition to the YA dystopia/science fiction genre. The cast of characters were powerful and well-written, and the premise brings about issues that go a lot deeper than just an apocalypse. 

First off, I think it was really smart of the author to have the reasoning of the end of the world being from global warming. This is because Indigenous people have had to deal with colonizers ruining their land for centuries. Indigenous Nations care deeply about the land and the environment, however capitalism that is often driven by racism has caused a lot of the global warming that we know today. While I hope our earth never gets to the level that it is in Dimaline's novel, I do think that the issue is represented well in the novel. This issue tells a greater story about colonization and the drive that Indigenous people have to protect their land. 

The characters were also lovable, but also flawed which I really appreciated. Frenchie is the main character, and he travels with a group of friends, along with other characters he meets along the way. I especially loved Minerva and RiRi, who eventually become like family to Frenchie. The group of teens and children in this novel were extremely tight-knit, and even though they had to survive amongst horrid circumstances, their bond was so powerful. I love reading about powerful friendships in novels. 

This book does make allusions to such horrid things in North American history. The idea of the recruiters wanting to steal from Indigenous people and commit experiments on them is sadly nothing new in the history of Canada and the States. There are also allusions to residential schools, which for those of you who don't know, was a way for the Canadian government to steal Indigenous children and torture them through the guise of Christianity. These issues and more are brought up in this novel, and I thought it was extremely powerful how the novel was able to bring about real-life issues in a science fiction setting. In this case, art sadly imitates life. 

I will say I would have loved a bit more expansion on the ending of the novel. I think I would have loved more development of the characters and a bit of a longer conclusion. I needed more to feel the novel come full circle. However, I applaud the author's use of tension and this was an extremely captivating book. 

It's also worthy to note that this book is Own Voices, which is always a good thing. Overall, "The Marrow Thieves" is for everyone. Whether you are a fan of science fiction or you wish to know more about Indigenous lives, this book does it all. It inspired me to take up a Masters Degree in Indigenous Literature, in which I will be researching the novel in greater depth. I cannot wait, and I hope you all will give it a read as well. 

Have you read The Marrow Thieves? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess


  1. Sounds excellent but also kind of a brutal premise! I know history is brutal too, but when I read the first paragraph of this review, I was like: wtaf?!

    1. Yeah, it is a brutal novel. But I also think it was very valuable in its storytelling abilities.