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Monsters Born and Made

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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.

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 These Violent Delights, 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.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published September 6, 2022

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About the author

Tanvi Berwah

4 books211 followers
Tanvi Berwah is a South Asian writer who grew up wanting to touch the stars and reach back in time. Her debut YA novel MONSTERS BORN AND MADE, a book that has something to say and isn’t afraid to say it to your face (Lightspeed Magazine), is out now. She graduated from the University of Delhi with a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Literature of English, and always found ways to fit in The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones in her academic life. A history and space enthusiast, she would’ve loved to be an astronomer, had her lack of mathematical skills allowed it. Find her at tanviberwah.com, or on Twitter and Instagram.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 753 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.5k followers
June 28, 2022
this book is wild… and not in a good way. its just all over the place, tbh.

if i had to describe this, its basically a hybrid of ‘the scorpio races,’ the tri-wizard tournament, and ‘the hunger games.’ so a lot going on and not really the most original content, but hey. tropes work for a reason, right? the thing is, theres so much happening that nothing really feels fleshed out. its all very superficial, or just lacking, and nothing hooked me enough to actually care.

this is also being pitched as a south asian inspired fantasy, but none of the actual fantasy elements are from south asian mythology?? its very much classical mythology. the only thing used that is actually inspired by south asia is the caste system and some of the characters’ last names. everything else is very greco-roman, which feels out of place in the setting/world the author is trying to create.

its not a terrible book, i suppose, but it just didnt feel cohesive enough for me to massively enjoy it.

thank you for the ARC, sourcebooks fire.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Xiran Jay Zhao.
Author 3 books10.3k followers
March 26, 2022
An exhilarating race of willpower and defiance, set on an utterly unique world filled with glorious monsters.

Profile Image for SK.
249 reviews1,361 followers
June 14, 2022
Dnf @45%

Am sorry y'all, I tried. It's simply not for me. The book starts off well. The first 12% had me curious. But then it just dragged on and on about the same issues. The book is slow paced. At first I thought it was possibly because the author is setting up the stage, but it kept getting slower.

The dystopian world building is mediocre. I think it had a lot of potential, but the author could not execute it well enough. I am still confused about the maristags, there's very little clarity. It gets way too descriptive at times, and the inner monologues never seem to end.

The FMC seems cold and shallow- there's no emotion to her. The author tries to present situations where the FMC is supposedly highly sensitive about, but it comes off as bland. Her persona is dull and lazy.

Cause the publishers and authors are presenting it in similar limelight to the Hunger Games, it's only fair for me to point out Katniss Everdeen was anything but bland. Katniss was actually full of energy and motivation, she was focused and despite the conditions she knew how to hold herself up. The FMC (I can't even remember her name) in this book is simply a sob story, and there's a point when it becomes frustrating for the reader. The world building in the Hunger Games is presented brilliantly and clearly. This one is all over the place.

I'm not sure if I want to read any other books by this author in this future but for now, there's a long way for her to go and I wish her the best.

eARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lucie V..
973 reviews1,789 followers
December 11, 2022
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you SOURCEBOOKS fire). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅ Gorgeous cover
✅ Exes-to-rivals-to-maybe-allies?
✅ Pace
✅ Action
✅ Magical creatures
✅(🆗) Plot (good, but some parts were repetitive)
✅🆗 Characters
✅🆗 World-building
❗️❗️Trigger warnings: blood and deaths, abusive relationship

Strong 3.5 stars

The Glory Race is the island’s single biggest event. So much goes into it, with the celebrations, the parades, the parties. Besides the betting and the killing, of course. Ten Landers risk their lives charioteering with ruthless maristags that hold their lives between their jaws. And one of those Landers becomes a Champion with more gold than they’d ever need in one lifetime.

On Sollonia, an island ruled by a rich elite of Landers, Koral Hunter and her brother Emrik are maristag hunters, and part of the lower-caste Renters. Even though they are the only hunters on their island, it doesn’t bring enough money, and they are indebted because of their younger sister’s need for constant medication. When she is told that she will have to marry in order to erase some of the family’s debt, Koral decides to enroll in the Glory Race instead, no Renter ever entered the race before. Against all odds, Koral manages to enter the race, and being a hunter that caught and raised maristags for most of her life might just be what gives her an edge in this deadly competition.

Overall, the story was predictable but still enjoyable. While I never read the Hunger Games series, I did see the movies and I know what it is about, so I understand why this book might be recommended for fans of the Hunger Games, but it’s not as intense. Sure, it’s a group of teenager racing and competing against each other for glory and riches, but if you are looking for a book that gives Hunger Games vibes, I would recommend All of Us Villains instead. Still, the chariot races were intense and the contestants were pretty ruthless, willing to kill in order to become the champion, or just to get revenge on each other.

The writing is not bad, but there is room for improvement. The first part was full of very intriguing pieces of information, but the pacing was a little jumpy at times. There is also time spent on details or internal monologues, which helped us get a better idea of the setting or the main character, but other events were just vaguely explained, or there were some time jumps that could have been used to build more tension, add relevant details to the plot, or even add more layers to the characters.

Having the Hunter name has always meant being alone in this world.

Koral is not a bad main character, but I did not particularly like her. She trusts people way too easily, especially considering the dystopian society she lives in, and also the fact that Hunters are outcasts, even among the Renters. Logically, she should not trust anyone besides her family and best friend, but she has a tendency to just roll with it and trust others without asking too many questions. I understand that she felt like she didn’t have a choice at times, but she still felt a little naïve.

The secondary characters like Emrick, but mostly Dorian (the ex) and Crane (the best friend) were shallow and seriously lacked development and depth. They were there to support the main character at one point or the other, or to make the plot move forward, but I do not really care for them because I do not know much about them and they felt hollow and bland. Another aspect that could have been so much more developed is the rebel group known as the Freedom Ark. They are just a rebel group with no known leader, and there is no real explanation about their motivations, beliefs or goals. They are just there to add more complications to Koral’s life and add a “political” aspect to the story.

Like gods of the Empyrean Elders’ world, the only source of entertainment for the puppeteers behind the Glory Race is visiting tragedies on human beings.

The world-building of this book is strong at first, there are magical aquatic creatures, different castes of people, and rebels and they live in what seems to be an archipelago-type nation, but then it becomes weak as nothing new is added. There is a strong base, but let’s just say that after the first few chapters that were full of weird creatures and that showed us a dystopian-like civilization, I was expecting a little more for the rest of the book. This book is also described as “South Asian inspired”, but I honestly couldn’t see or feel it at all. It’s not a negative thing, but just don’t go in it expecting a story with strong South-Asian vibes.

I wouldn’t say that there is romance in this book. There is a teeny tiny hint of it since Koral and
Dorian have a secret past together, and it is made clear that they both still have some feelings for each other, they remain rivals until the end because they both want/need to win the competition.

The ending is promising though, and I am curious to see where this is going, so I will probably read the second book when it comes out. While this was not a 5 stars read, it was still entertaining and an easy read that I recommend if you are looking for a fantasy with a dystopian vibe, vicious sea creatures, and deadly chariot races, but don’t mind weaker characters and a somewhat predictable plot.

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Profile Image for Marquise.
1,711 reviews398 followers
May 20, 2022
This book reads like a combination of "The Hunger Games" and "Ben-Hur," taking from the former its plot revolving around a competition between youngsters from ten islands that's so very obviously rigged in favour of the wealthy competitors, and from the latter its deadly chariot race over the waters on sea monsters that reminisces the nail-biter chariot race between Arrius and Messala in the film. With such an attractive mix, it'd have been right for someone like me who enjoyed both very much.

But it turned out to be too light and a bit hollow, unsatisfying to me. Part of it is that "Monsters Born and Made" suffers from derivative syndrome. Meaning, the similarities to "Hunger Games" are so many and ever-present that it becomes a point against instead of an asset. Of course, this can also be appealing, because many will grab this book precisely because of this similarity. However, it commits the sin of many a teen dystopia novel of trying to ape "Hunger Games" too closely, down to the post-apocalyptic caste districts, rebels in the shadows, to the point its protagonist girl, Koral, is a copy of Katniss (unsubtle that even their names start with the same letter) and the boy is basically a Peeta Mellark clone. There's even a sickly sister for Koral to agonise over and protect, just like Prim. It's all so awfully familiar that the predictability factor is off the charts as a result.

There are enough elements to make this book its own different story, such as the fact that this is a Waterworld-style planet, covered by oceans where strange monsters live that the poorest caste, the Renters, hunt and breed and train to sell to the rich castes, the Landers, that use them in spectacular competitions a la Roman Colosseum chariot races; competitions that are voluntary and not a punishment. But these differences aren't that big, more like a collection of smaller differences that cumulatively give the book a distinct flavour and atmosphere, but not one I necessarily find more interesting, because the derivative aspect is stronger.

Anyway, derivative works can be good, too, and this one had its interesting parts, so it was a case of the issues overshadowing the good parts for me. The writing and the dialogue that weren't very good in many parts and sometimes laughably bad exchanges took place, the jumpy and uneven pacing at the start that stayed for most of the book until the last stretch, and above all the so very undeveloped characterisation and unexplained world were the bigger issues that I had and bothered me as I read and took away from my appreciation of the story. Koral lacks a depth to her and is hard to like or understand, because she mostly reacts to what the plot throws at her and there's so little of her inner world, and it's even worse for the secondary characters, who often feel like they simply are and that's all there's to them. And the world? If there are first books that suffer from being too much set-up and exposition, there are other first books that go the other way and refuse to explain much of the world. The water planet is a mystery for now, so little about how it came to exist, how those people survived whatever caused the Apocalypse, how were the island castes established exactly, how Koral can sneak into the competition, how... I imagine there'll be a sequel that'll explain what this first book doesn't, but still the feeling of lack of development and hollowness isn't going away. This also impacts the ability to visualise the world and its creatures, because the maristags, for example, are very hard to visualise. What are they exactly? Big fish with antlers? Enfin! I don't think I'll be picking up the next book, unfortunately.

I received and ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Jovana (NovelOnMyMind).
197 reviews153 followers
September 19, 2022
2.5 ⭐

Themes & vibes:

• dystopian setting
• sea monsters
• violent racing competition
• YA friends to rivals to potential lovers

Though this story wasn't exactly bad, there was nothing about it to keep my attention or make me want to read more. Everything was fine but pretty forgettable.

The bones of a good story were there, but for some reason I couldn't relate or care about any of it. And I didn't like the ending, though I’m sure many readers would disagree.

I've listened to this book as audiobook. The narrator was good, I’m sure I’d enjoy it if the story was better.

All in all, I’m giving Monsters Born and Made 2.5 ⭐, and I’ve rounded it up instead of down because it was a debut and I did think it had potential.

If you want to see my much more in depth review, you can check it out on my book blog NovelOnMyMind.

Thank you to RB Media and NetGalley for providing me with an audio ARC of Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,315 followers
February 3, 2022
There must be something in the water with these new releases, but I’m officially declaring 2022 the Year of the Monster. 👹

On a planet almost entirely consumed by tumultuous seas, lurking with terrifying creatures, Koral Hunter is just trying to keep her family alive. She and her brother Emrik are maristag Hunters, but lately their family has fallen into debt, putting their sick sister’s life in jeopardy. When they miss out on the last hunting opportunity of the season, Koral is compelled to enlist in the Glory Race, despite just being a poor Renter. Previously, only the upper class Landers have been able to race, but as someone who’s grown up raising the volatile maristags, Koral might just be able to win it all.

It’s probably cliche at this point to compare a YA dystopian fantasy to The Hunger Games, but I can see where those parallels are drawn. Monsters Born and Made features a competition between a number of teenagers (ages 16-20) where they battle in a series of deadly events for riches and status. Both have a teenage girl from the lower caste that joins and attempts to overcome the odds stacked in favor of the wealthy competitors who have been training for this all their lives. It’s not a perfect comparison, though, and Monsters is able to differentiate itself in significant ways.

Firstly, the Glory Race is not a punishment imposed on the lowly members of society, it’s a competition for the elites. And on Sollonia, one of the ten islands of Ophir, the separation between the rich and poor is literally a giant metal wall and gate, as opposed to The Capitol in the expansive territory of Panem. Koral gets to go home every night, is able to get help from her best friend, but this also means she witnesses the extravagance of the Lander side of the island immediately contrasted with the struggling Renter side. And this builds up her anger and resentment.

Because as much as this is an exciting racing adventure fantasy, it’s also a commentary on the caste system. Tanvi Berwah paints a stark picture of wealth and resource hoarding, on why some born into privilege have the expectation of humane treatment while people born outside it are required to justify their existence. The Hunters themselves live in “the margin of the margin”, and the story is really a complex analysis of how people treat one another when there’s a belief that some members of society inherently deserve ‘more’.

But with all of that going on thematically, I did find some of the writing lacking. There was kind of a rough start establishing what this world is and how it worked. The dialogue felt choppy at times and the initial pacing was jumpy, skimming over exactly how Koral was equipped and able to join the race in the first place. I don’t think the characters were as developed as they could have been, especially the supporting ones like Dorian and Crane. The rebel group, the Freedom Ark, is a largely faceless mass that is never fully humanized. There was way more explanation of the thoughts, motivations and feelings of the Lander characters than there was for the aggrieved Renter (and Arker) characters, which I think undermines the author’s goals with this work.

I do think the story redeems itself by the end. The plot of Monsters Born and Made is undoubtedly cool. A chariot race of deadly water monsters for gold and glory on a ocean planet? Ummmmm yes. That is my brand. And I think I have an idea where it’s eventually going, which is exciting in a way I can’t say without spoilers. There’s a lot of big, unanswered word-building questions—How did these humans end up here? What is Koral’s plan for challenging the power structure? Will the other nine islands be involved?—that will hopefully be addressed in the follow-up. Overall I like the setting; I like the monsters. I like her rage. And I’ll be very much looking forward to the sequel.

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,046 reviews3,448 followers
August 31, 2022
3.5 stars rounded up

Listen, we need to have a talk about the reviews for this book. I'll get to my own thoughts, but I'm seeing a lot of fellow white reviewers essentially saying that this is a bad rip-off of The Hunger Games. This isn't the first time I've seen something like this happen with a fantasy novel by a woman of color and it's some bullsh*t.

Monsters Born and Made has been compared to Hunger Games because it has some similarities in tropes. And comparing books to other popular books is a common MARKETING TOOL used by publishers. But the similarities are things that MANY YA books contain. Suzanne Collins did not pioneer and trademark the use of stories with: violent competitions, underdog main characters from poor families, themes of class warfare and revolution, a love interest from a forbidden family or status (*cough* Romeo and Juliet anyone? *cough*) or the existence of a sibling the main character wants to protect.

I'm sorry but I can't even tell you the number of YA books that contain these elements. So tell me why people call it plagiarism when a person of color is writing it??? Hmm. Maybe if you are a white reviewer, spend some time considering how you are critiquing a book from someone with a more marginalized background. Also I'm sorry, but it's just absurd to say it's a ripoff because Koral and Katniss both have K names. Clearly Koral is a take on Coral because they live in an ocean bound society.

That said, I don't think this book is perfect. But that's okay, it doesn't have to be. I would have loved this as a teenager and I think it has a lot going for it.

Monsters Born and Made is a slightly South Asian inspired sci-fantasy novel set in a watery world with an intense caste system and lots of vicious monsters. The main character is Koral, a teen girl from an impoverished family that make their living hunting and breeding maristags (a dangerous sort of deer/fish hybrid that can live in and out of water and are used in races). Her younger sister is chronically ill and her care is very expensive, her father is verbally abusive, and they are living on next to nothing. So when her brother is badly injured trying to capture a maristag, Koral decides to enter a race usually reserved for the upper class members of society. The prize money could change their lives, but there are rebel factions trying to undermine the races, society leaders who will do anything to push her out, and a boy that she used to be friends with but must now compete against.

This book is fun, fast-paced, and driven by the action. The world is interesting, but I would have liked to see a bit more time spent on the world-building later in the book. The emphasis is really more on the various parts of this competition. I like the themes being explored in terms of class, poverty, and the ways that class differences are institutionalized and perpetuated. There are interesting twists and a cliff-hanger ending that made me want book 2. As a character, Koral is fine for a debut YA novelist. I would have liked to see more depth to her characterization and she feels pretty cookie-cutter to what I expect from most YA heroines. But again, it's a YA novel and a debut, so the bar for what I'm expecting isn't as high. If the themes and tropes sound appealing to you and you like an action-driven story centered on competitions, this is definitely worth a read. The audio narration is done well and I think listening to it was a good way to go since it is so action-driven. I received an audio review copy via NetGalley, all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Grace (kanej & evajacks' version) .
234 reviews137 followers
March 17, 2023
This was such an enjoyable read!! 🤩🤩 When I started it, I was craving a fast-paced entertaining YA fantasy and this definitely delivered on that 💜💜

“This is the ocean, and you're a Hunter. You swim with monsters; these people cannot scare you.”

Monsters Born and Made follows Koral, whose family survives by capturing the monstrous maristags that live in the black seas around their island. They then sell them to the upper class for use in the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament. But when they fail to capture a maristag for that year's race, Koral is forced to do what no one ever has dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race. But surviving will be harder than she ever imagined and with rebellion growing and facing competitors who'll do anything to win, will she get out alive?

I didn't know what to expect going in, but it was a super easy and enjoyable read!! There were so many aspects of this book that were great and I really enjoyed it overall 💜

Starting with the characters- they were pretty good!! 🥰 I really liked our mc, Koral- she was super fierce and determined, which we love to see! I also admired how she'd do anything to help her family, and her relationship with her maristag was soo beautiful to see 😍😍 The other main character we had was Dorian- and I liked him too! He's definitely the typical 'bad boy' kind of character, but I still enjoyed reading about him ✨

Next, the writing- I really liked the writing!! It was super easy to read and I found myself sinking into the story very easily. I really liked the descriptions of the deadly sea creatures around the island, and the emotion of the characters was written quite well. The writing was pretty simplistic, but i think that suited the story. It was just an enjoyable writing style 💜💜

The plot was also great!! There was lots of action and once I got far enough into the book, there was always something going on to keep me interested! The Glory Race itself was also super cool- some competitions in books end up being kinda lame, but this one definitely wasn't! The race scenes were definitely my fav parts of the book 🤩🤩

“I know better now, the rules of this game of power were always stacked against people like us. And while we fought one another, they ran things like they wanted. We're made to feel like we're part of them, but only as long as we keep our heads down.”

There was also a lil romantic subplot going on- and I definitely ship 😏😏💜💜 I must say, the romance isn't fully developed yet, but the development we have had was pretty good for a 330 page book. There were also some really good scenes with them- like, the knife to the throat scene??? 🤭🤭 I'm a bit hesitant to say this bc i know how many people adore this ship (me included), but they were kinda giving Jurdan vibes?? Like, Dorian and Koral feel kinda like Cardan and Jude... They aren't as good as Jurdan, but we've also only had one book with them... 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

“I was born in anger. I live with it. It's everywhere. It's in the way people look at us. It's in the way we exist. It's the way we burn. What do you know of how angry I am, Dorian Akayan?”

Overall, I had such a good time reading this!! 🤩🤩 Would definitely recommend if you want:

✔ Good romance subplot
✔ Super cool competition
✔ Lots of action
✔ Well-developed characters

A very enjoyable YA fantasy!! 💜💜

~ 4 stars


I really enjoyed this!! 🤩🤩 It was exactly the entertaining, fast-paced YA fantasy I needed 💜💜

Profile Image for Tanvi Berwah.
Author 4 books211 followers
July 31, 2022
7/31 update: Hi! Just dropping by to say that the preorder campaign is now live and if you preorder, you can get 1) Limited-edition first print illustrated hardcase beneath the cover, 2) Exclusive art print and 3) A chance to adopt and name a coral for sea conservation efforts. Details here.


i mean i do think i like this book a lot, so yeah.

now that this book is starting to make its way into the world, i want to acknowledge something that will inevitably be brought up. what makes this book south asian if it doesn't adhere to the aesthetics—the lehenga, the food, the festivals? (not even getting into the fact that only hinduism is seen as "authentic" representation.) this book is, specifically, about people forced to live in the margin of marginalization, a phrase that encapsulates everything about the story. what that means, from a south asian perspective, is the practice of caste. casteism is a violent oppression in south asian society, and the depiction of the fractured society is what makes this story innately south asian for me.

this book, in particular, deals with the lack of community which keeps people from truly challenging the powers that be. it is my hope that, if this book does well, i will get to continue telling this story.

i'm also going to take this space to list some content warnings, noting that most of these are fantasy standard, for anyone who wants them:

- blood depiction
- death [animal, parent]
- chronic illness of a child
- parental abuse
- fire destruction
- panic attack depiction
- undiagnosed mental illness depiction
- riots/police violence
- social violence
Profile Image for renee.
88 reviews62 followers
May 27, 2022
Thank you to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Fire for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

make sure to check out my blog!

rating: 5 stars

Ever since I laid my eyes on “Monsters Born and Made” and read the premise I was sure that this book was gonna be amazing. It was one of my most anticipated fantasy books of the year and it didn’t disappoint me at all.

The world building and the fantastic characters is what hooked me from the very first chapter. While reading all of the very detailed descriptions and learning more about the world in which this book is set it was so easy to forget about the one we live in and be totally absorbed by the story.

It’s not hard to see why this book is compared to The Hunger Games since there are a lot of very similar aspects like for example a set of teenagers competing for status and glory but the two books surely do have their major differences.

The one other thing I loved about this book are the characters, especially Koral, our protagonist. I loved every single thing that she did in this book and I’m ready to forgive her for all her mistakes. She is brave, loyal to her family and won’t stop at nothing to win the Glory Race and give them a better life. For her the race is about survival but for the elites it’s nothing more than entertainment and showing off. Tanvi Berwah did a great job at showing just how messed up and oppressive the caste system is.

Just like everyone else I was also mostly interested in seeing how the romance in this book was gonna play out and it was so satisfying. Even though the romance in this book is definitely a subplot it was just enough for me. Dorian and Koral start of as exes turned rivals and there was so much pent up pain and anger between them. The tension was immaculate.

I can’t wait to annotate this book sometime in the future because there were some really great quotes and moments that will forever live rent free in my head!

Also, I’m dying to learn more about the maristags because the moments between Koral and Stormgold were so wholesome and I just know there’s so much more to know.

In conclusion, “Monsters Born and Made” is the perfect fantasy book to read in the summer and I’m sure many people will enjoy it!
Profile Image for A Mac.
716 reviews84 followers
August 21, 2022
After having listened to the entire audiobook (the narrator did an excellent job), it's time to update my review!

The characters stayed well written throughout the entire work. There wasn't any character growth throughout the story, but I still enjoyed the characters overall. This book did rely heavily on the inner dialogue of the main character which would have been a fantastic way to show character growth, but alas.

After the excellent worldbuilding at the beginning of the work, I was expecting the same from the remainder. However, there was little-to-none included in the rest of the book. I was hoping for more explanations and expansions on the cultures, the caste and political divides, and the religion, but these things weren't explored in any meaningful way. The world was similar to that of the Hunger Games, a blend of traditional fantasy and sci-fi, making for a dystopian setting. More details should have been included to ground this world and explain the author's choices - but as it is, it felt kind of like a knock-off. The work also touts itself as a South-Asian-inspired fantasy, but that barely came through and should have been incorporated much more heavily.

The story was predictable but still enjoyable. This work was quite similar to the Hunger Games without being as good, but I still enjoyed it for an easy YA read. My thanks to NetGalley and RB Media for providing a review copy of this work, which will be published on September 6th, 2022. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

*This review is for a six-chapter preview of the book* May 29 2022, 3 stars

Koral is a Hunter just like her brother. They wrangle maristags from the sea and train them for the wealthy to use in the Glory Race. But they’ve had bad luck and the season for hunting is almost over. With a sick sister and debts to pay, Koral knows they’re running out of options. When a terrible accident occurs on the last day of hunting, Koral finds herself cornered, deciding there’s only one thing for her to do: attempt to win the Glory Race.

First, the cover of the book is absolutely stunning. The artist did an amazing job! I also really enjoyed the maps at the beginning of the book. They were drawn in a unique perspective and the style was quite interesting.

The characters seemed solid overall. With only six chapters, it’s difficult to say just how much character development and depth there will be in the work. However, the main character is already relatable and well written, and the secondary characters are decent.

One of the major strengths of this work was the worldbuilding. The author created a unique and rich setting, with fascinating flora and fauna that brought the entire thing to life. I loved the different aspects that were introduced, from the island’s harsh environment to the ocean metal that was used in many different ways. The author’s creativity shone through in this aspect, making me eager to read more of this work.

However, there was a plethora of typos and formatting errors in the kindle version I received. Some examples include new paragraphs starting in the middle of a sentence, extra spaces after hyphens, unnecessary hyphens (e.g., “drip-ping” rather than “dripping”), page numbers scattered throughout the text in the middle of pages, and two words written as one (e.g., gingerroot). The number of errors per page drastically decreased my enjoyment of the work.

The concept of this work and the worldbuilding make me excited to read more, but the number of errors and typos is a major detraction from this book. I would be willing to increase my rating after rereading an edited version of this work.

I received a complimentary copy of this work through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,420 followers
August 24, 2022
Part The Scorpio Races, part The Hunger Games, and part something entirely new and brilliant.

Koral and her brother Emrik risk growing into adulthood every day as they capture the monsters residing in the seas and train them into submission for the elite ruling their world. They are paid little and the sickness growing inside their younger sister has them all increasingly desperate for funds. The monsters, as if sensing this growing unease inside of them, prove increasingly difficult to capture and, as the stakes are heightened, Koral must take calculated risks to save her sister's life and her family from destitution. One such risk sees her competing in the Glory Race. Wealth is the reward, if she can win against the elite vying for gold and fame alongside her and the monsters they ride, vying for her blood and destruction.

I loved the ingenious creation of this world but do wish the reader was garnered more of an understanding of its geography, its cultures, and the mechanics underpinning it. The political focus dominated and was highly intriguing, as was every other facet introduced, but I yearned for a more comprehensive knowledge to also be gained for these other areas, which I believe could have been done from a few extra chapters included. Regardless, I loved everything this did contain.

I believed this to be a standalone but the open-ended conclusion and the multitude of questions now haunting me have me seriously hoping for a sequel. I loved Koral, this world and the monsters - both human and otherwise - who haunt it, and long to be reunited with them all in the future.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Tanvi Berwah, and the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Madison.
422 reviews4,796 followers
November 30, 2021
This debut South Asian inspired fantasy is a blend of THE HUNGER GAMES meets FABLE with a deadly competition where chariot riders race dangerous sea stags for a Champion prize in an island-dystopian world.

Key Tropes/Features​
✨Dystopian Fantasy ​
🌊Sea Monsters​
🌗Golden Boy x Pariah​
☠️Deadly Competition​
👀Angsty Teenagers​
🌸Female Friendship
Profile Image for Ayushi (bookwormbullet).
444 reviews856 followers
April 4, 2022
Thank you so much to Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

UM HELLO?! That ending?! Please tell me that there is a sequel to this book--that ending should be illegal 😭. I'll cry if this ends up being a standalone cause wtf.

This was a really strong and captivating debut from Tanvi Berwah! I was immediately hooked after hearing it was a sci-fi dystopian/fantasy story about a legendary chariot race with South Asian influences and exes-to-rivals-to-more. And let me tell you, Tanvi really delivered on all fronts. This book really drew me in from the first page, and I'll really be so incredibly upset if this ends up being a standalone.

One of the first things I noticed reading this book is that the worldbuilding in first third of the story was a little hard to follow along. I was a little confused with all the terms that Koral, our MC, kept using to describe aspects of her daily life and the worlds she lived in. Slowly, as the book progressed, I was able to piece together what exactly she meant and vision exactly how this world looked, but it did take some time. I do want to give a warning, though, that this book wasn't exactly easy to read in the sense that the hardships that Koral and her family face were really hard to read about. The things they endure as Hunters was written in a really visceral manner and definitely made me feel like I needed to take a break, so please take care when picking this book up! I'd give a major TW for violence, death, gore, domestic abuse, parental abuse, chronic illness, torture, and starvation.

I think the two aspects that captivated me the most was the Glory Race itself and how Koral's relationship with Stormgold grew from the start to finish of the race, as well as Koral's relationship with Dorian. I've heard this book get compared to The Hunger Games, which I can definitely see, but I also pictured the chariot race to look a lot like the pod-race from The Phantom Menace. This book is action-packed and each of the rounds of the race were so harrowing to read--I was truly on the edge of my seat praying that Koral made it through unscathed.

All this to say that Monsters Born and Made is definitely a book you want to have on your radar if you're a YA sci-fi or fantasy fan! I'm really excited to read Tanvi's future works :)

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Profile Image for Jazmin Castro.
369 reviews180 followers
September 10, 2022

*sighs* well, my friends, this book really disappointed me

I can't begin to explain how I feel after this book, specially because I feel that I forced myself to finish it. We have our main character, Koral, who is very desperate at the moment. She's posed as a very strong and smart character, yet she trust EVERYBODY. Any person who smiles back at her? She trusts. She trusts a person who has already disappointed her, she trusts a person who nobody is supposed to trust.

She is participating on this race where people like her are not supposed to participate, right? Well, you expect others to make some noise and all. But NO! The highest authority accepts her really fast. In that moment, I knew something was gonna go wrong. But here, Koral trusts everything again, because of course she's our main character and everything should be perfect for her to go on. And this is another thing that bothered me a LOT. Koral is a hunter, she has never trained for this race in her life, but suddenly she's AMAZING at everything? please, at least give us something believable.

And here we get into the writing, which was definitely not for me. I can't begin to explain how messy and all over the place it felt. One minute we are reading someone's introduction, and suddenly Koral (because it's a first POV book) goes on and on about other stuff. And this happens a lot, not only with characters' descriptions but with some critical moments. She's supposed to be stressed or sad but here we are seeing her talk about the walls or the color of something. You might think, so was this book too descriptive? No, it wasn't. It descibed the things that weren't important at all, and never really gives you a calm explanation about what is going on. I could never picture the place where things happen, I couldn't even imagine the faces of the main characters. This book might have given some descriptions, but as I said, they're really everywhere and anywhere at the same time.

And it was so repetitive, I swear. Here is a line straight from the book:

Crane hands me a set of clothes, and some warm water to drink. When was the last time I drank water? I sit quietly, sipping water. It tastes like nothing. Empty air.

After that, I felt thirsty.

And don't get me started on the characters. I couldn't stand Koral, but what bothered me the most was the romance, because it really didn't show any chemistry AT ALL. Was I suppose to believe these two had a tragic past and now were back to falling in love? The only interesting character was the best friend and sometimes the brother, and also some of the other charioters. There was one girl who was in the competition too who had some good reasons to hate Koral, and honestly? I was rooting for her.

The ending was a disaster. I hate open ending but this really was worse than that, because it seems as if she just ran out of ideas and couldn't complete the story. I'm so sad, I really wanted to love this one. I'll give it some extra points for at least writing some interesting competitions, that is what kept me reading.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the eARC.
Profile Image for ash ✩‧₊˚.
289 reviews754 followers
October 7, 2022
hmm, rtc(??)


seeing more and more desi stories in the book community makes me so happy and this is definitely an anticipated !!
Profile Image for queenie.
120 reviews44 followers
September 8, 2022
“This old world will come to an end, the seeds of a new world will shoot out of this monument’s broken ground; those they call monsters will be born and made.”

Rating: 4.5/5.0

check out my interview with the author along with a review (+ moodboard) on my blog!

Monsters Born and Made is an unflinching story of oppression told through the interpretation of a teenage girl fighting her way through the norms set by society, all for her family’s survival. If there’s one word that’s responsible for all that happens in the book, it’s ‘privilege’.

Koral is a sixteen-year-old hunter—her family hunts maristags, the vicious monsters that prowl the wild seas, for the Glory Race in hopes of being compensated with money each day. Unfortunately, things get out of hand in their last encounter and they’re unable to produce a maristag for the elite class, leaving them financially responsible. And so, in hopes of turning the tide and providing money for her chronically ill sister, Liria, Koral gets into the Glory Race; a race that’s reserved only for the Landers, the ruling class of Sollonia.

The world of Ophir is a unique one, it isn’t just inspired by only South Asian culture, but is written from the perspective of them being ruled over by the Lander elites, who are more or less the counterparts of the English/Portuguese/Dutch in this novel. The system is seen to be leaning towards Greco-Roman tradition—the Glory Race itself being a version of the Gladiators, but that doesn’t stop it from being what it aimed to be.

On how the author handles representation, the caste system is a very important and valid part of Koral’s life in Sollonia. This is undeniably the best part of the book. The author has a way of showing how no matter how hard the lower caste try, they would always be dominated by their oppressors. I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending, but what an ending was that! There’s definitely a lot of potential for a sequel (we need!!) but it also works as a standalone. And I think that’s both beautiful and horrific at the same time.

Romance in the novel was suitably adequate. Not much for it to overshadow the plot, not too less for it to be removed entirely. And relationships, however difficult they were, were perfectly handled, showcasing all the facets of reality. Koral’s relationship with her Baba is a tough one, while it’s little Liria who motivated Koral to achieve her goal. The only issue I had in the book was the prose and writing which were a bit off at times, but I’m hoping they get better in the forthcoming books!

Lastly, Monsters Born and Made is a wild debut, relentless to the obvious prejudice against caste. This isn’t your typical Hunger Games but is something that’s much, much better and thoughtful in multiple ways. If you happen to be looking for something diverse, and something to make you think along the pages, consider picking this book up!

— Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire, for presenting me with an ARC of this book in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Booktastically Amazing.
470 reviews389 followers
May 18, 2022

I need time to come to terms with these messed up feelings.
I_ yes.


*aggressively gets thrown into Want To Read button*
Profile Image for  Bon.
1,120 reviews94 followers
September 6, 2022
Happy publication day to this one, as it were...

I am in the letdown camp on this one.

I was so ready to read about a fantastical, monster-filled world paralleling the caste system in India, but that didn't feel like what I got.

I love competition plots, but it quickly became clear this was very, very similar to the Hunger Games, down to an invalid sister, money tight to the point of starvation at home etc. But I could understand what was happening in the Hunger Games.

In this story, the protagonist didn't endear herself to me at all, the romance was unconvincing, and I cared little for any character mentioned at all, unfortunately. Most of this is owed to the fact a huge weakness in the book is a lack of descriptive elements. I don't need every single outfit or locale described to a tee, but I enjoy a lot of scene setting. Like other reviews noted, the prose is very Tell and not Show, and I found myself frustrated at an inability to picture the maristags, the protagonist, or really anything happening. It was a very flat, two-dimensional story despite its aspirations. Sorry to this debut but I don't think I'll be tuning in for volume two if there is one.

Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC, the title comes out September 6th.
Profile Image for Steven.
1,066 reviews382 followers
September 9, 2022
Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for gifting me an advanced copy. The opinions below are my own honest review.

The Pros: a (mostly) strong female protagonist, neat mythical creatures, a high stakes tournament, a relatively interesting caste system

The Cons: feels a lot like a ripoff of Scorpio Races and Hunger Games, a confusing world - both in setup and in mythology (the mythology feels like a very poorly executed amalgam of too much mythological lore crammed together), a bit predictable, and it took way to long to really understand why so much revolved around maristag hunting (seriously, aren't there other ways to get income?).

Overall, it was a decent book. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. I'm not sure I liked it that much, so, an average star rating it is. Two and a half stars rounded up. Recommended for patient enjoyers of dystopian YA with lots of mythological influence.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,096 reviews
July 29, 2022
The unusual animal on the cover of this book caught my attention first - enough for me to pick it up and read the blurb which made me want to read it. Of course I had to find out what a maristag might be. And yes, I love a competition. This book reminded me so much of The Hunger Games - only with monsters. The haves and the have-nots, a class war. Life is not fair.

Koral was perfectly groomed as an underdog heroine. Her determination and courage were admirable. The entire book was exciting and fast-paced. I would recommend YA fantasy to anyone who enjoys a great fantasy adventure. I would have given it 5 stars except, for me, the ending fell flat - but the rest of the book was excellent.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire through Netgalley for an advance copy. This book will be published on September 6, 2022.
Profile Image for Avani ✨.
1,585 reviews329 followers
October 16, 2022
Monsters Born And Made by Tanvi Berwah, this South Asian fantasy novel is the story of Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother Emrik, about the power of the elite, the price of glory, and one girl's chance to change it all.

I am someone who enjoys reading fantasy novels. I am always on look out for reading a good fantasy novel. This book took me on the fact that it's set on oceanic world and monsters.

I was really looking forward to the book being promising as it sounds in the blurb, but the writing style is something that did not work for me at all. It's character development was still good but the plot could have definitely been better.

If you want to explore a sea inspired new South Asian character fantasy novel, definitely give this one a chance. I enjoyed the family components in this book along with a new political and social system altogether. The book felt very easy and boring at times.
Profile Image for Monica.
491 reviews98 followers
April 4, 2022
Initial Thoughts
I was so excited when the publisher sent me an e-ARC of this book. First of all, the cover is stunning. Second of all, I will read and and all books that say they're like the Hunger Games. Lastly, South Asian influences!? YES!

Some Things I Liked
Be still my little half Indian heart, I loved the South Asian vibes in this book. It was so perfectly done. If felt like a clear influence but the world building was utterly unique.
The politics and society. The social structure in this world was so interesting and it led to so many fascinating, complex, and morally grey characters.
The slow burn, enemies to lovers romance. It was everything. I can't wait to read more.

Series Value
I'd sell my soul for an ARC of the next book because this series was so good. I can't wait to keep reading and read anything and everything Tanvi Berwah writes in the future.

Final Thoughts
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. It's the perfect blend of The Hunger Games, The Scorpio Races, and Ashlords with South Asian vibes that will leave you desperate for more.

Profile Image for Starr ❇✌❇.
1,205 reviews122 followers
June 6, 2022
I received an ARC from Edelweiss
TW: domestic abuse, violent mob, physical assault & drugging, claustrophobia, attempted drowning, arson/house fire, animal attacks, systematic oppression

Koral and her family are hunters, those in charge of finding and raising up the sea monsters used to race. This puts them just above their own people to the point of disdain and resentment, but far below the Landers. When their access to the medication keeping her younger sister's illness from killing her is severed, Koral decides to enter a race never meant for anyone in her class. She knows the competition is dangerous- but she's yet to find out what else there is to fear.

I do think that this book will resonate with some readers. For younger readers the revolutionary aspects will probably be new and intriguing, and the messiness of that narrative is interesting.
This is also a book that gives the main character solid motivations that feel realistic and help the rest of the story feel that way as well. It's always believable why Koral is doing what she's doing, and how far she'd go.

But this book doesn't really bring anything new to its niche. "Magical horse racing" is, oddly enough, almost a sub-genre on its own, and this felt to me like a fairly flat combination of The Scorpio Races and Ashlords. I expected more when I heard about the sea monster raising, but the tone was not at all what I'd been prepared for, and I feel as if the plot concept was a thin excuse for what we actually got.

And the unsatisfyingly rehashed feeling of the plot would be at least partially permissible had the rest of it felt fleshed out or new. But instead the characters are flat and uninteresting, with little going on beyond the race and politics itself. While there is time and places for expansions, Berwah does not take advantage of them.
The ending, as well, felt very unsatisfying to me. It may be that there is a sequel in the works, but as is the ending simply made me feel downtrodden, bitter, and like I'd wasted my own time.

This was not a book I enjoyed reading, and I'm disappointed by that because I truly think it could have been.

Pre-review comments below
dark Luca show me the forbidden sea family

update 12/20/2021 oh hello full synopsis and cover, you look wonderful

update 2/28/2022 GOT AN ARC 🎉🎉🎉
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,316 reviews215 followers
June 18, 2022
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monster Born and Made was so freaking good. Maybe it's because I just watched all of Stranger Things this week or maybe, just maybe, this was just really hard to put down. Either way, I'm so happy that I got the chance to jump into this and I'm secretly hoping we get another book.

In this, you will meet Koral. She is a monster hunter and has a huge mission: to save her family. The creatures throughout this kept me intrigued. Seriously, after meeting the first one I was completely hooked. It was also pretty interesting to see Koral travel and grow throughout this world as well. The Lander and the Renters could easily annoy and frustrate me. Yet, Koral seemed to handle them with more grace than I could muster into one of my pinky fingers.

Not even going to lie here. I would have punched one of the Landers pretty early on. My adventure would have been nonexistent after that. Besides the drama, we do get some sparks for a romantic interest. It's not the main focus, though, but I would have liked to see more of it. Just saying.

In the end, I wasn't prepared for that ending. Again, I'm secretly hoping and wishing that we get another book. I might cry if we don't because it just can't end like that. It feels like there's more room to grow and potential for a great sequel.
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