Hunting by Stars (The Marrow Thieves, #2)
Years ago, when plagues and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up—or are re-opened—across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams.
Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is—and what it will take to escape.
Meanwhile, out in the world, his found family searches for him and dodges new dangers—school Recruiters, a blood cult, even the land itself. When their paths finally collide, French must decide how far he is willing to go—and how many loved ones is he willing to betray—in order to survive. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel expands on the world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, and it will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.
The book primarily follows Rose and French, as French wakes up in one of the schools and Rose sets out to find them. Their family is also involved along the way, with those they have chosen to make a home. There are many obstacles and challenges as Rose and French try to make their ways back together in an action-packed story.
What I loved: This thrilling read tackles some really important topics around the treatment and exploitation of indigenous peoples, with parallels from the past to this dystopian future that seems somewhat speculative given those parallels. The book also tackles themes around individual past/stories, the ethical balance of sacrifices on the small/large scale, indoctrination/brain-washing, cults, forced choice progressiveness, the cruelty of humanity along with the justification of these cruelties, and so much more. This would be a great choice for book clubs as there is much to dive deeper into and themes that resonate with both the past and present.
The characters were really compelling, and both Rose and French's stories keep the reader hooked. I was also invested in the story of Wab and Chi Boy, who are pregnant during these dangerous times. The other stories included around the cult, the vigilante group, and other members of the family were also really fascinating, expanding on the provocative themes that make this story so powerful.
The plot was easy to become immersed in, and the fast pace was kept even more intensely by the alternating points-of-view that included cliffhangers to keep you guessing until you get back to that story. This style of writing makes the book impossible to put down, and I appreciated the way it made the book even more immersing and consistently intense. This is a highly devourable read.
What left me wanting more: As a small point, I do wish there was a bit more history included with the world-building (particularly about the plagues/disasters and how this lead to the dream problem), but given that this is a sequel, there may have been more in the first book.
Final verdict: A thought-provoking and thrilling read, HUNTING BY STARS is a powerful story about family, humanity, and survival. Highly recommend for fans of YA dystopian/speculative fiction and those who enjoyed THE HANDMAID'S TALE, UNDER THE NEVER SKY, and EVE.