I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on September 6, 2022
Genres: YA Dystopia, YA Fantasy, YA Science Fiction
Source: the publisher
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Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother Emrik risk their lives each day to capture the monstrous maristags that live in the black seas around their island. They have to, or else their family will starve.
In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, the Landers―the ruling elite, have indentured Koral’s family to provide the maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others―if they’re lucky―survive.
When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family’s financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can’t afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral’s only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.
But every step of the way is unpredictable as Koral races against contenders―including her ex-boyfriend―who have trained for this their whole lives and who have no intention of letting a low-caste girl steal their glory. When a rebellion rises and rogues attack Koral to try and force her to drop out, she must choose―her life or her sister’s―before the whole island burns.
She grew up battling the monsters that live in the black seas, but it couldn’t prepare her to face the cunning cruelty of the ruling elite.
Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights, this South Asian-inspired fantasy is a gripping debut about the power of the elite, the price of glory, and one girl’s chance to change it all.
The connection in the synopsis to The Hunger Games and These Violent Delights is really right on. I got the same feelings from reading this as I did from both of those. This book also really does cross between fantasy – with the creatures, science fiction – because it is obvious this is probably another planet maybe? and also dystopia – because of the type of society it is. All of these different aspects to the story made it such a good read!
It also had a feel that reminded me a bit of a Maggie Stiefvater book, The Scorpio Races. From the beginning they talked about the original settlers and the way they talked about how they got to the island where the lived made me think it might have been a spaceship as opposed to a sailing ship. But it wasn’t ever said for sure I don’t think. And the creatures on this island were extremely alien and pretty much all seemed to be menacing. Even the maristags that they would ride in the races were not anything like a race horse, that’s where the comparison to the Stiefvater book came for me.
There were a lot of different characters to worry about. Rebels, Landers or the people who were more well to do, better off. While the main character was a Hunter, she was also a Renter, but the rest of the Renters treated her family different. While she always assumed it was just because of what they did, later in the story we learned there might have been some other reasons. The rebels also did not like her, and she had to fight against those odds to try to even help her family and her sick sister. Her father was not a great father to her, he seemed to blame her for so many things. I kind of wondered if we’d get more story about that, but the background never really filled in for me with that, at least not that I could see or remember.
The different events of the races were so much like the different events both before and during the Hunger Games. There was the chariots riding in at the beginning as a show of the contenders. Then there were creatures and environments set up to purposely create drama and make the race harder. There were people killed, and other racers both trying to kill or at least not trying to help each other. Oh, and there was a pin someone gave her to wear, but I never saw that it really made that much difference, or figured out what it was supposed to mean? Maybe I missed that.
Koral’s best friend was one I never quite trusted, although she was true and there for her for the most part and in the most important situations. And there was even a tiny sliver of old friend turned enemy/romantic interest in the story as well. It’s kind of hard to describe a lot of the story because of how different this world was. And the ending was a little bit ambiguous, leaving me guessing at what really happened. In a way it was left that there could be a sequel possibly, but I don’t know that this is anything other than a standalone. Its ending could just be one of those that leaves you to create more on your own, what you think or want to happen next.