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.
WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT
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 who have trained for this their whole lives and who have no intention of letting a low-caste girl steal their glory. When riots break out 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.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
Days after reading Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah, I was at a loss for words to describe this book. Read on to find out why.
Monsters Born and Made has splendid worldbuilding. Berwah has created a brutal world where people mask their faces with tattoos to avoid burning their skin from the harsh sunlight.
But wait, this is applicable for only the Renters and Hunters.
The Landers, on the other hand, are the ruling elite and live in luxury underground.
Once Berwah establishes the haves and have-nots of her world, she introduces her readers to the Glory Race, where participants race on chariots attached to maristags, vicious sea creatures.
The one who wins gets all the glory and gold. Those who don’t are lucky to even survive.
This cruel spectacle is witnessed by thousands of Landers with bated breath.
Koral, the protagonist of this story, is a Hunter. Unable to get the last maristag of the year, her family is in dire condition. So, she cheats her way into the Race in the hopes of getting enough gold to bring her family out of poverty and pay for her chronically ill sister’s medicines.
However, things are rarely so easy. Koral’s entry into the Race doesn’t go down well with Landers. They start plotting against her to throw her out of the competition.
The Glory Race is expertly depicted by Berwah. The nail-biting race to the finale in every stage of the Race is fraught with mortal danger. However, Koral, due to her tenacity, skills, and help from her friend and her maristag, survives.
I did have suspicion before reading the finale, however, the twist at the end was shocking, to say the least.
Last but not the least, Stormgold, Koral’s maristag. Ooh, what a regal creature she is.
These creatures are feared and abused because of their monstrous nature and superhuman strength. But it is not them who are the monsters. It is the humans who want to tame them to win the Glory Race for their stupid pastime.
I loved how Stormgold bonded with Koral. It is one of the finest points in this book.
I did have some quibbles with the book. Firstly, it takes time to understand the world of Sollonia.
Secondly, it is implied throughout the book that Dorian, the crowd favorite, and Koral were ex-lovers. I would have liked to see more of their backstory. Those minor glimpses were not enough.
Thirdly, I wanted more insights into the court politics that was going on. As a reader, I was hardly ever let into the conspiracies brewing to thwart Koral. Berwah shows the end result of the conspiracies. However, I would have liked to read more about the scheming and plotting.
Lastly, how did Grandmaster Minos become so powerful. It would have also made a fascinating backstory.
To conclude, while Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah has thrilling and brutal race scenes to captivate the reader, I felt that it just skimmed the surface.
Overall, it is an impressive debut. I hope to see more action and politics in the sequel.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-fi || Published on September 6, 2022
Many thanks to Lonely Pages Book Tours for organizing this blog tour. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book. This does not affect my opinion on the book. I opted to provide an honest review on my blog.
Tanvi Berwah is a South Asian writer who grew up wanting to touch the stars and reach back in time. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi. Her debut YA novel, MONSTERS BORN AND MADE, is forthcoming from Sourcebooks Fire in 2022. Find her at tanviberwah.com.