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The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Demaline

Our first review by Eliza Jo Brandt! You can find Eliza on Twitter at @ElJBrandt, or check out her website:

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.”

The Marrow Thieves book cover

Title: The Marrow Thieves | Author: Cherie Dimaline |Publisher: DCB | Pub. Date: 01 September, 2017 | Pages: 260 | ISBN: 978-1770864863 | Genre: YA Sci-Fi Dystopian | Source: Self-Purchased | Starred Review

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The Marrow Thieves Review

If you’ve heard anything about Indigenous Canadian writers in the last few years, chances are you’ve heard about The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. This book has won multiple awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Kirkus Prize and received starred reviews from Library Journal and Kirkus. I’m always nervous about books that have a lot of hype because that can set the reader’s expectations too high, but the praise for this book did not lessen my appreciation of it.

We start in a not-too-distant future that looks a lot different from the world we live in now. Climate change and environmental disasters have wreaked havoc on the land. A disease spreads and wiped out a large percentage of the population. In time, people figure out that Native people aren’t affected by the illness.

In time, people figure out that Native people might hold the cure.

This doesn’t make Natives heroes. It makes them targets. One by one, the members of Frenchie’s family disappear, leaving the 11-year-old boy to fend for himself. He is found in the woods by a group of Natives who are fleeing the cities. They are led by a man and include young children, an old woman and some other kids Frenchie’s age.

Frenchie and the other kids don’t know what happens when Natives are caught and taken to the schools, but they know it’s bad. When people are taken away they never come back. Every member of the group has a tragic story, and these come out gradually throughout the story. They are afraid of encountering anyone in the woods as they head north. They can’t even be sure if they can trust other Natives.

There are a lot of things to fear in this new world Dimaline builds, but the horrors and tragedies have moments of joy and happiness woven in. In spite of those lighter moments, Dimaline builds a steady sense of dread. You know it’s only a matter of time before more bad things will happen, and the story defies prediction.

This is the first book that I have read by Cherie Dimaline and it will not be my last. It is a young adult novel that blends elements of sci-fi and horror in a dystopian story that feels all too real and possible.


You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads; however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inScience Fiction Book ReviewsStarred Reviews
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