City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD, an adventure based on ancient Mesopotamian mythology written by Sarwat Chadda, author of the Ash Mistry series. Characters from the Epic of Gilgamesh populate this high-stakes contemporary adventure in which all of Manhattan is threatened by the ancient god of plagues.
Thirteen-year-old Sik wants a simple life going to school and helping at his parents’ deli in the evenings. But all that is blown to smithereens when Nergal comes looking for him, thinking that Sik holds the secret to eternal life.Turns out Sik is immortal but doesn’t know it, and that’s about to get him and the entire city into deep, deep trouble.
Sik’s not in this alone. He’s got Belet, the adopted daughter of Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, on his side, and a former hero named Gilgamesh, who has taken up gardening in Central Park. Now all they have to do is retrieve the Flower of Immortality to save Manhattan from being wiped out by disease. To succeed, they’ll have to conquer sly demons, treacherous gods, and their own darkest nightmares.
City of the Plague God is full of adventure, but it’s also about family and loss.
Sik lives in NYC and works at his parent’s deli. His brother, Mo, was killed two years earlier and Sik still struggles with the loss. He even talks to Mo. Mo’s best friend, Daoud, lives with the family and annoys Sik on a daily basis. One day at work, Sik hears some noises outside and makes the mistake of checking it out. What he finds are demons. Multiple demons that look more like animals than humans. A ninja comes in and helps save him. The ninja ends up being a young girl at his school named Belet. Balet’s adoptive mom is Ishtar, a goddess. There is a god, Nergal, that believes Mo stole something and he wants it. But Sik has no idea what that is. Nergal starts a plague and Sik’s parents are the first to be infected. That infection is slowly killing and changing all of NYC. The people are changing into creatures and the plants are all dying. Sik and Belet team up with Ishtar to stop Negral.
There is a lot of action and creatures in the book. All of the mythology was interesting and the pacing was good. What I really loved was the focus on family, loss, and Islamophobia. It was sad to hear that Daoud knew he would only ever get roles as a terrorist villain. Belet losing her parents in war and Sik losing his brother were both sad. I thought the author showed their grief well. Belet was always angry and Sik just had trouble accepting his brother was really gone. I thought everything was handled well. There were some really creepy creatures and the author didn’t shy away from some gore, even with the book being middle grade.
I gave this book 4 stars. Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for my review copy. Please make sure you read the author’s note, too.
Warnings for death of animals, people, Islamophobia, grief, violence, talk of war, and some gore.
Have you read this yet? Is it on your TBR?