About the Book:
Title: Monsters Born and Made
Author: Tanvi Berwah
Page Length: 352
Publication Date: Sept. 6, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Synopsis: 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 Fable, 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.
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.
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An intriguing YA dystopia, Monsters Born and Made has been compared to The Hunger Games, and I can see why. I’m not complaining. I love The Hunger Games, and I enjoyed this story! Both books have comparable dystopian elements – the oppressive society, the extreme disparities between castes, the corruption of power, the lack of control among most citizens, the struggle to survive, and so much more. The protagonist, Koral, is a lot like Katniss. She is brave, loyal, sensitive, and determined, and she will risk everything to protect the ones she loves. But as much as the stories seem similar, they are very different.
This story takes place on an island surrounded by an ocean where monstrous creatures lurk. It is an island ravaged by the sun, and the upper elite, or the Landers, live underground. Koral, a hunter of the sea-monsters, is one of the Renters, who live above ground, subjected to the harsh environment, poverty, disease, and vicious predators in the water, air, and on land. It’s a dangerous and brutal backdrop to the story, which takes place during the equally dangerous and deadly Glory Race.
The Glory Race reminds me of a cross between a chariot race, a Star Wars pod race, and the Hunger Games. It is so fast-paced and action-packed, and though it reminded me of a mix of so many other things, it felt unique, and I became really immersed in the story. The buildup is a bit slow, and it took me a bit to become immersed in the story. However, once the games began, I couldn’t put the book down. It was so intense and suspenseful!
Throughout the story, it felt like every time Koral took two steps forward, she was forced to take three steps back, and she could never fully trust anyone. Between the games, the corrupt government, family and relationship conflicts, the underhanded competitors and their allies, and the rebel group threatening to destroy it all, Koral has her hands full! While competing in the games, Koral also has to face a competitor with whom she has a past, conflicts with her brother and best friend, an abusive father, a sick sister, antagonistic nemeses, monster attacks, a corrupt system, and so much more.
There are several relationships in the book that I liked. Koral’s relationships with her brother and sister are fantastic. There is so much love there, and you can tell how deeply they care for each other in all that they do. Koral’s relationship with Dorian is also really interesting. They have this whole exes-to-enemies-to-lovers thing going on, and it was complicated and messy and intriguing. Koral and Dorian have so much in common despite their economic differences, and it was interesting to see their relationship evolve.
Another thing I really liked about the story is that it makes you question who the real monsters are. Are they the people who oppress, abuse, and humiliate others? The animals captured and forced to submit to humans even though it’s against their nature? Is it the desperate girl who will do anything it takes to save her sister? Koral has some thought-provoking revelations about what makes a monster.
Overall, I thought this was a good read. It took me a while to get fully immersed in the story, but the compelling characters, the unique world, and the competition make up for the slow start. And after that ending, I definitely want to read the next book. Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- The competition.
- The suspense and action.
- The characters.
This is not where humanity first breathed. This is where humanity came to die.
Everyday people make choices that they think have no impact on their lives. But if you look right instead of left, you don’t know who you’ll meet and who you’ll miss.
Who would my mother have been without her anger? What legacy would I carry if not my mother’s pain?
You’re more than what they want you to be.
I would definitely recommend checking out the content warnings before reading the book. There are some elements that could be triggering.