Book Review & Giveaway: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

Posted May 2, 2017 by Melissa in Book Review, Giveaway | 32 Comments

Book Review & Giveaway: Saint Death by Marcus SedgwickTitle: Saint Death
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Macmillan, Roaring Brook Press
Publication date: April 25th 2017
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genres: Contemporary
Length: 240 Pages
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
My Rating:

A propulsive, compelling, and unsparing novel set in the grimly violent world of the human and drug trade on the US-Mexican border.

On the outskirts of Juarez, Arturo scrapes together a living working odd jobs and staying out of sight. But his friend Faustino is in trouble: he's stolen money from the narcos to smuggle his girlfriend and her baby into the US, and needs Arturo's help to get it back. To help his friend, Arturo must face the remorseless world of drug and human traffickers that surrounds him, and contend with a murky past.

Hovering over his story is the unsparing divinity Santa Muerte, Saint Death--and the relentless economic and social inequalities that haunt the border between Mexico and its rich northern neighbor. Crafted with poetry and cinematic pace and narrated with cold fury, Saint Death is a provocative tour de force from three-time Printz Award honoree Marcus Sedgwick.

Book Excerpts

“It is a wall that is being built. And these are the bricks in the wall: the drug gangs, the police of Mexico and of America, MIGRA, the DEA, the governments and politicians of these two countries. Then there are the biggest bricks of all. Companies; these giant corporations that are more powerful than anything, more powerful even than the countries where they operate.”

“And it’s just about then, as I talk about these things; as I talk about dishonest trade agreements and corrupt politicians, as I talk about the vested interests of the rich nations, which is to say the rich people who run them, as I talk about life for the poor outside the borders of “civilization,” as I talk about shady deals made between dubious organizations, that I realize that people have stopped listening to me. They don’t make eye contact with me anymore, they cough quietly and suggest that no one wants to know about these things, and it’s just about then that I realize that I am the crazy one, not them. They are sane and sensible and in the right while I am the lunatic, staring at them with mad eyes and thinking furiously to myself that surely we have something better to offer than this: polite embarrassment.”

“It may be horrific, but that doesn’t make it any less true. The world as we find it is a lie. A lie made between those with power: those who run the companies, those who run the government and those who control the police and the army. I think they believe their own lie. And this is what I learned: that most of us believe it too. The first person a liar lies to is himself. ¿Right? But we are part of it, this lie, and meanwhile, we are eaten up, even as we help the rich get richer. Women slave in the maquiladoras, old and broken by the time they’re forty; girls are abducted and used by the narcos. It’s all the same; all food for the machine that is driving us to our future. And it’s only when we recognize the real prison we’re in that we can start to find a way out.”

My Thoughts

Even after leaving plenty of time to process how I felt about Saint Death…this is still going to be a difficult review to write.

Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick was an insight into a subject I knew little about -drug and human trafficking- and a the socio-economic effect it has on those that live near the US/Mexico border.

Marcus Sedgwick certainly knows how to make one feel. As expected the writing style and flow of imagery in Saint Death was perfection. It was so easy to imagine myself right into Arturo’s shoes…at least to whatever small degree such a thing is possible.

As a side note relating o the writing…I kept forgetting that this was Young Adult. Happens a lot when I read Sedgwick!

I expected a bit more of a magical or spiritual element but this actually had a bit of a religious vein in it. Nothing that I feel was at all preachy or would turn anyone off…but simply woven through in such a way that it made it possible to get a sense of how Santa Muerte factors into the Mexican culture.

I can’t say this was an enjoyable read…but it was what I’d consider a really important read…especially in these times where the “wall” that Arturo sees in his backyard has the potential to become an even larger reality.

I don’t want to really talk plot points or give anything away – I really feel this is a book best jumped into and experienced for oneself.

I promise…whether you love or hate it…Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick will make you feel…

I promise-whether you love or hate it-Saint Death by @marcussedgwick will make you feel... Click To Tweet

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About Marcus Sedgwick

MARCUS SEDGWICK was born and raised in East Kent in the south-east of England. He now lives in the French Alps.

He is the winner of many prizes, most notably the Michael L. Printz Award for 2014, for his novel Midwinterblood. Marcus has also received two Printz Honors, for Revolver in 2011 and The Ghosts of Heaven in 2016, giving him the most citations to date for America’s most prestigious book prize for writing for young adults. Other notable awards include Floodland, Marcus’ first novel, which won the Branford-Boase Award in 2001, a prize for the best debut novel for children each year, My Swordhand is Singing won the Booktrust Teenage Prize for 2007, and Lunatics and Luck won a Blue Peter Book Award in 2011.

His books have been shortlisted for over forty other awards, including the Carnegie Medal (six times), the Edgar Allan Poe Award (twice) and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (four times). He has twice been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, in 2016 and 2017.

Marcus was Writer in Residence at Bath Spa University for three years, reviews for The Guardian newspaper and teaches creative writing at Arvon and Ty Newydd. He is currently working on film and book projects with his brother, Julian, as well as a graphic novel with Thomas Taylor. He has judged numerous books awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Costa Book Awards.

He has illustrated some of his books, and has provided wood-engravings for a couple of private press books.

His latest titles in the UK are Saint Death and Snow.

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32 responses to “Book Review & Giveaway: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

    • Melissa

      I’m going to be 100% honest…if his style doesn’t usually work for you, unless you have a huge interest in the subject material…this probably will not work for you either. All of his books are so different…but also have that something that makes them feel the same if you know what I mean.

  1. Thanks so much for reviewing this book! I’d never heard of it, but now I’m dying to read it! I’m an avid reader and often run out of new books to read, so this will definitely be going on my list. I have subscribed to your blog now, because I definitely want to keep up with what you write! By the way, your blog is beautiful. 🙂

  2. Wow, this sounds really intense. I’m sure it gives a well deserved light to the corruption our world is so susceptible to. Sounds interesting, but depressing at the same time. But I guess that’s how the reality of our world is these days. One one talks about these things because no one wants to know…

    • Melissa

      It was definitely a hard read and that was a point made in the book…No one wants to talk about these issues.

  3. Jamie L Herda

    As someone who lived in Texas for years, this sounds really interesting. It sounds important. I have a daughter and so I’m very interested in reading this.

  4. Amber Bourland

    I’m sure this book will make me run the gamut of emotions, but given the world we are in, we cannot close our eyes to the realities of drug and human trafficking- no matter how much we would prefer not to see it…

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