The Marrow Thieves

The Marrow Thieves

Book - 2017
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Oct 28, 2020

The book thinks itself to be much better than it actually is. Whilst set in the future, the book itself presents nothing actually new and/or ground breaking other than the representation it bring to the indigenous cultures. The characters are generic, each delegated to one or two characteristics, the writing is bland and even cringe worthy at times, and the plot of a journey across the country brings nothing noteworthy. But the book isn't completely garbage, certain scenes illustrates a potential for good writing (the moose hunting scene is a good example of this), but it is triumphed by the whole lot of bleh. Maybe it would work better for an adult audience where the themes can be explored completely because the YA genre doesn't help it at all. Clunky romance writing, a shoved in love triangle subplot, and the "evil corrupt government" being relegated to the entirety of white society doesn't bring much to its outlook on race.

CONCLUSION: There is a potential in the novel, but the only way to achieve that potential would end up bringing so many changes that the novel doesn't resemble its current form anymore. Read it if you want, but there isn't any one I know that I would recommend it to.

SPOILER: the scene where the old woman (cannot remember her name) showcases some sort of super power was the biggest wtf of the novel. There were no hints towards a special power before that scene. The "memory of the ancestors" were used as motivation to act but their use for an actual super power completely diminished their value for myself.

Jul 24, 2020

Dystopian is not a genre I care for but a friend suggested this book because of my interest in dream psychology. But the dream theme was only a vehicle for the post-apocalyptic conditions for the Metis and “Indians” to be hunted for their bone marrow where, supposedly, dreams reside. (I gagged on that premise.) The plot was mostly a chase through the forests, hide-and-seek with emphasis on teamwork, while we came to know more about each character. As we learn their individual pasts, the historical human rights abuses and colonial racism inflicted on Canada’s Indigenous people is highlighted. Somewhere along the way the bone marrow dream theme gets lost. It was difficult for me to get pulled into this story but by the last half I was interested.

Mar 25, 2020

The style of this book isn't typical, but adds more interest and context into the general themes of the novel. As a Canadian young adult, it really puts into perspective the Indigenous oppression and how history can repeat itself under given circumstances.

I think the book is an eye-opener and has so many lessons in the frame narratives, such as the coming-to stories. It focuses on repeating history, family, coming of age, language, oppression, trauma and trauma through generations and taking pride in whom you are and of your ethnicity.

I think it's an important story for youth to read this novel as they are coming of age to consider that your success isn't solely defined by your goals, but also by those who helped you. The past generations have paved a road to make you the most successful you can be and it is your job to carry on that role and make sure that your culture, lessons and values carry onto future generations.

It is a wider perspective, but a great one to consider. I absolutely loved this book! One novel similar to Empire of Wild written by the same author!

Mar 24, 2020

The story took place when most people lost the ability to dream after the world-destructing nuclear war. The Indigenous people who had immunity were forced to have their marrows drained for a cure. This book emphasizes the bond people can have when they are the minority. However, the book ended with a successful rescue mission, which didn't conclude the war or bring justice to the world. The themes like "faith vs. reality" or "human vs. human" in the end stopped being as engaging as in the start of the book. Besides, in my opinion, too many characters are introduced, and most of them have similar characteristics and experiences. 3/5 stars
@Truffle_Waffle of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

The Marrow Thieves is a well written novel, set in a dystopian future where indigenous peoples are forced into hiding to protect their lives. The antagonist of this novel is a corrupt government who sanctions the exploitation of indigenous peoples. While it's unlikely anyone will have to protect their bone marrow anytime soon, the book touches upon a lot of important issues that can be seen currently in our society today. It also teaches about some very vague fundamentals of indigenous tradition/culture. The novel is edge of the seat exciting, and impossible to put down. It also has an abundance of three dimensional characters that all come to life throughout the duration of the narrative. I loved the Marrow Thieves and recommend it to everyone interested in reading work done by indigenous authors. (Yay representation!) Rating: 5/5 stars
@Dream.Sequences of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Feb 21, 2020

As a perpetual mood reader: read when you’re in the mood for a quick paced YA novel that explores deep themes. While it *is* speculative fiction set in a dystopian time~the environment has been destroyed and indigenous folks are being rounded up~ it also feels very real; it’s a retelling of history and could easily be our future.

Feb 10, 2020

This seems like a young adult book and I thought I would read it to explore a different perspective but I found myself enjoying it, especially toward the end. The characters and plot are simple. The dystopian future plays like a symbolic representation of the current culture in North America.

Jan 08, 2020

Engaging characters, indigeneity in dystopia, and chosen/found family in a fast-paced YA novel? Yes! Hello! Sign me up!

Set in a near-future world ravaged by climate change, French is on the run with a small group of other Native people who have joined together for protection. A mysterious side effect of the destruction to the environment is that Native people are now the only ones with the ability to dream, and so they’re hunted and imprisoned in “schools” that attempt to harvest their bone marrow. [If you’re familiar at all with Native history in North America, the word ‘schools’ probably gave you a heads up about the history that Dimaline is evoking, and if you’re not familiar, the phrase “Native boarding schools” would be a good thing to start googling.]

As French bonds with the others in his group, they share stories of pain, loss, community, and hope. Dimaline’s writing is beautiful and the characters and the bonds between them felt real and fleshed out.

Nov 28, 2019

"The Marrow Thieves" explores the circular nature of history through dystopian re-imaginings of the same colonial institutions that systemically sought to dissolve Native American communities in North America. The premise is powerful, walking a fine line between lived realities and post-apocalyptic flair. I loved the innovative world-building, but found the novel overall a little too reliant on Young Adult genre tropes.

BPLpicks Sep 05, 2019

Set in the not-so-distance future, in a time when the planet has been devastated by the effects of global warming and natural disasters, and entire communities have been wiped out. Those who remain lost the ability to dream. The only exception are the indigenous people of North America who continue to carry dreams deep within their bones. The government employs ‘recruiters’ who abduct these individuals, in the hope of discovering the secrets found within their bone marrow. The story centres on an indigenous teenager named Frenchie, who is on the run from the recruiters, along with a group of other nomads. More than just another dystopian YA novel, this book explores a number of deeper themes, including climate change, environmental destruction, and the consequences of government policies.

Aug 06, 2019

A tale of hope-tinged desperation, beautifully told. A little horror-esque at times, but not without reason. Side characters are a little flat, but justifiably, considering it's such a compact book.

While the writing is somewhat poetic, I do not see any merit to the plot in this book. I wonder if the author was trying and failed to mimic the more successful books in The Hunger Games series? This novel describes an imaginary holocaust of Canadian indigenous in a future dystopian world where an evil white society must suck the dreams out of every innocent metis and indigenous man, woman and child. It feels like reverse racism where all western society is evil and the indigenous is the only pure race. The intended audience appears to be young adults. Certainly there is not enough context or sophistication to appeal to an adult reader.

Mar 22, 2019

One of the best book I’ve ever read. Gripping, terrifying and yet beautifully written. This book needs to be read slowly and without any distractions so that you can savour each sentence.

Dec 07, 2018

Intense and beautifully written. Nicely in your face for mainstream society.....First Nations people need a strong voice like this. She gives us a view into a repressed peoples' world. Well done.

Oct 30, 2018

Racist hatred as horrid as any anti-Semitic or Incel vitriol. All indigenous peoples are superior to all other peoples on earth, and all other peoples are out to get them. Nothing but freedom of speech can justify publication of these views.

Oct 27, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. It was a little slow for me at the beginning but then it picked up quickly. This is a dystopian Native American story full of survival and tragedy. North America is struggling because of global warming and non-Indigenous peoples have stopped dreaming. Indigenous people are on the run to survive with their dreams.

Jul 24, 2018

If you like this book, you will probably like A Girl Called Echo. A Métis girl leaps between the history of her ancestors past and the present, showing indigenous history as tangible instead of simply word on pages

Jul 21, 2018

This book is very moving. Frenchie makes us love his dystopian world. "The Marrow Thieves" is a wonderful book based on the future world, and indigenous peoples. The book is about indigenous peoples and "regular" people. The "regular" people have lost the ability to dream, and now they realize that the indigenous peoples still have that ability. So they set out to have as many indigenous peoples as they can. They build a machine to extract the dreams from their bone marrow. Frenchies adventures with his new friends are both sad and exciting. I really loved the whole book, but if I had to pick a favourite part I would pick the part where Minerva breaks the machine. Minerva is the eldest in Franchise tribe. She was caught, but when she was brought to the machine she sang a song from her heart. The song lyrics and the tune was strong enough to break the machine. I loved reading this book but to be honest it got a little boring at the end. The same things were repeating over and over again. But please read this book!

JessicaGma Jun 19, 2018

This book is a very smart dystopia where Indigenous people hold the secrets to help everyone dream in their bones, quite literally. Frenchie is your narrator taking you through this land where climates have warmed, and most have died of some plague. It's no wonder it's won many awards, and that ending.....Read it!

Jun 05, 2018

A novel This novel is beautifully written, reminding me of Eden Robinson’s novel, Monkey Beach. The Marrow Thieves is a departure from traditional indigenous lit however, because it's a dystopian (!) novel set in Ontario's near future! It retains some of the same mystical elements found in magical realism, but presents a harsher landscape where Frenchie and his cohorts must learn and re-learn how to survive. It's a sobering comment on the unending struggles of the Canadian Indigenous people, teaching us that a glimpse into the future can reveal yesterday's and today's repeated mistakes.

I'm not a fan of books that focus on climate change and global warming, but it wasn't an aggressive enough theme to turn me off. I enjoyed the book very much and wanted to see Frenchie survive and thrive, and without spoiling the conclusion, I will say that the ending was unsatisfying. I love open-ended endings and books that don't lay out all the answers, but this one feels like it's setting up to turn into a series, and I didn't pick it up with the mindset that I was dipping into a series. I LIKE TO KNOW.

Overall, an enjoyable read, especially for younger readers (YA and teen). It's not a standout amongst Canadian Indigenous fiction, in my opinion, not when you're competing with the likes of Thomas King or someone like Richard Wagamese (RIP), who is the KING of Indigenous fiction in my opinion.

Happy reading!

Mar 28, 2018

The Marrow Thieves opens with Frenchie’s coming-to story, a flashback that recounts how he came to be on the run in the northern bush, and who he was before the plague came. The bulk of the story is set in the bush, but several of the characters in the party share their own coming-to stories over the course of the book. Using a futuristic echo of the residential school system, The Marrow Thieves examines how Canada might repeat the horrors of the past by failing to acknowledge or reconcile with them. The science fiction element of extracting dreams from bone marrow is not deeply explored in a technical sense. Rather, the bone marrow becomes a powerful metaphor for what has been taken from Indigenous peoples, as well as the appropriation of their culture by those who have already taken their land, their resources, their homes, and their families, and are still not satisfied by the destruction they have wrought. It is a gut-churning portrayal entitlement. But despite the dark premise, and the threat that Frenchie and his friends are facing, I still found an abundance of hope in The Marrow Thieves.

Full review:

liljables Mar 19, 2018

I'm a big fan of YA, dystopian, and First Nations fiction, so The Marrow Thieves ticked a lot of boxes for me. But this story transcended all of these genres, and it was by far the most emotionally affecting novel I've read so far this year. Much like the depiction of the United States in American War (another Canada Reads contender), the future landscape of Canada created by Cherie Dimaline feels familiar and utterly plausible. Aside from the one fantasy plot point from which this book takes its name, The Marrow Thieves feels heartrendingly real. In less than 250 pages, the author creates a captivating hero in French, our teenage protagonist - I felt every triumph and every disappointment right along with him.

As is often the case, Canada Reads hit the nail on the head with this choice - The Marrow Thieves is a must-read for all Canadians.

Mar 18, 2018

When residential schools still existed, there were one hundred and fifty thousand students attending. Those people included the inuit, Metis and First Nations. Cherie dimaline, a Canadian Metis writer, is known for writing many novels such as “The Girl Who Grew A Galaxy”, “Red Rooms”, “Stray Dog Moccasins”, and“The Marrow Thieves”. In The Marrow Thieves, Frenchie is the protagonist and main character of the novel, but due to his selfishness, lack of leadership, and inexperience, I personally feel that he should not be considered a hero. This survival story has many meaning behind it. The major message Cherie Dimaline is willing to spread around is that being able to speak in the aboriginal language, is very sacred and rare. This is due to residential schools destroying the indigenous languages. The novel represents injustice, fate, survival and power. I would give this book a four star rating out of five. @Bookland of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

Rating: 3.5/5 This story is a very interesting take on indigenous relations in Canada that is very unique and unheard of in the teen fiction genre. However, although the perspective of indigenous people being used for their ability to dream was interesting, I felt that there was no depth to the novel and I could not connect with the characters. It felt like the novel was trying to be a sci-fi but lacked the thrill. Also, there seemed to be no definitive resolution and the characters were left hanging. I wonder if that was a tactful decision made by the author in order to expand the series. Overall, the concept was interesting but the execution of the story fell flat in my opinion.
@sunsetzuzu of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

Such a moving and eye opening novel. The Marrow Thieves showed me the culture of different tribes of indigenous people and how they handle issues when it comes their way. French, an indigenous boy who is on the run north with a group he meets up with along the way, learns how to hunt and survive in the wilderness. Forming many great friendships along the way as well as romance, each person helps to guide each other to their destination, or they think they know the destination. Their goal is to run from the recruiters who capture aboriginals and take them to schools, where they harvest their dreams which they hold in their bones. When they avoid the recruiters, they find themselves question who to trust out in the bush and if where they are heading north is really safe. The past of each person is revealed along the way at the most shocking moments leaving you putting together the pieces of the puzzle to show the full picture of their lives. An amazing book and I would strongly recommend it to readers interested in young adult and fiction novels that take place in the future. 5/5
- @booklover327 of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Mar 18, 2018

It is refreshing to read a story with indigenous characters who possess a fierce pride for their traditions and understand the stored value in the memories held by the elders. Not to be dismissed as 'just a YA book' or 'another dystopian survival story', the author makes a valuable addition to the canon.

Mar 14, 2018

Well-written. I had a hard time with the young adult fiction format and found it to be choppy and disjointed in places. I am also not a fan of dystopian fiction so it wasn't really my favorite book. This book may win Canada Reads but only because the topic has had so much air play in the last year. Other Canada Reads contenders are better written and have more to tell us.

Nov 03, 2017

Congratulations to Cherie Dimaline for winning the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award and the U.S. Kirkus Prize! "A dystopian world that is all too real and that has much to say about our own." (Kirkus Reviews—starred review 2017-09-19)

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