Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Merwah is a fantasy tale of monster hunting. Koral and her brother have done everything they can to survive, but it still may not be enough.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.
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.
Characters: 4 | Atmosphere: 4 | Writing: 2 | Plot: 3 | Intrigue: 5 | Logic: 2 | Enjoyment: 1
I had high hopes for this book but was let down almost immediately. This book has one of my least favorite flaws, which is an imbalance of showing and telling. There is an almost complete lack of worldbuilding, which is really unfortunate as, conceptually, the world seems like it would be very interesting. However, because I had no idea what was going on at any given moment, I was only given a blurry glimpse into that possibility.
Then, we dare to live. Until the next hunt.
A key part of this book was the “monsters” as well as the complex social system. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you what a maristag is, or half the other creatures mentioned. I don’t really know or understand the social system aside from the racism that’s involved. While I do note that there is some Greko-Roman-esque racing going on, I’m still not really sure why? I finished this book mostly feeling dissatisfied and questioning whether I was feeling unwell and just missed a lot. This caused me to consider others’ reviews and found that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
Additionally, there’s allegedly a romance in this book. I don’t care about romance, but I do know that it was mentioned. The reason I use the word “allegedly” is because, well, I didn’t personally see it. The characters and their interactions feel half-baked at best, and barely even considered at worst. This book could have gone through a bit more fleshing out, I feel, before being published.
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.