Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Hunting By Stars by Cherie Dimaline

Hunting by Stars Cover Art

Hunting By Stars: A Marrow Thieves Novel by Cherie Dimaline
ABRAMS/Amulet Books
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
ISBN: 978-1419753473 

In a near future ravaged by climate and disease, some people have stopped dreaming. These people go mad or waste away, so the government has done the unthinkable: Set up residential “schools” where the bone marrow of Indigenous people is harvested for the dreams they still carry. Métis teen Francis “French” Dusome has been on the run for most of his life, ever since the day his brother sacrificed himself so French could get away. French survives in the wilderness with a close knit group whose members–including Rose, Miig, Wab, and Chi-Boy–are from tribal nations all over North America; together, they are family. So when French is captured, there’s no question that he will be looked for. But new threats bring new danger, and the group is forced to separate. Now Rose is desperately searching for French–and running right into the deceptively open arms of a strange new group. Miig is leading the others south–crossing the U.S. border where the line between friends and those pretending to be friends is very thin. And French is imprisoned in a place where so many of his people have gone to die–and about to face terrible choices that will harm those he loves no matter what he decides. Reuniting will require sacrifices, betrayals, and desperate bids for a survival that is anything but assured. 

This companion novel is just as gripping and gut-wrenching as 2017’s The Marrow Thieves. While readers will benefit from reading the first novel, there is enough context in Hunting By Stars to become immersed in this dangerous and all-too-possible future. Subtle, strong worldbuilding continues throughout the book as various characters switch points of view. Characters do terrible things to each other in the name of survival, and the story makes the reader think about what they might do in the same situation. Ultimately a hopeful ode to community, identity, and found family, Hunting By Stars is timely, powerful, and un-put-downable. French and his friends are Indigenous from various tribal nations and with diverse intersecting identities (biracial, queer, etc.). 

Give to readers who have been keeping up with recent news about the history of Indigenous residential boarding schools in Canada and the United States. Give also to fans of Indigenous lit like David A. Robertson’s The Misewa Saga, Wab Kinew’s Walking In Two Worlds, or Angeline Boulley’s Firekeeper’s Daughter. The Marrow Thieves and its companion novel also take their places amongst the best of speculative/dystopian fiction: Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel), Oryx and Crake (Margaret Atwood), Parable of the Sower (Octavia E. Butler), The Road (Cormac McCarthy), Ship Breaker (Paolo Bacigalupi), Dry (Neal and Jarrod Shusterman), etc. 

Kali Olson

Other Nominated Titles

  • The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Hermann (September 14, 2021)
  • Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis (August 24, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.