City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda
Publication Date: January 12, 2020
Summary from NetGalley:
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.
ARC provided by Disney Publishing via Netgalley for an honest review.
These Rick Riordan Presents stories never seem to disappoint. I have read many of them and have pretty much loved them all. This one is no exception. Although I know next to nothing about Mesopotamian mythologies, that did not hinder my enjoyment of this story. In fact, it made me want to learn more.
I loved Sik from the moment we meet him. He is such an upbeat kid, who sees the good in everything. But he has a sadness about him as well. His older brother Mo, who he hero worshipped died two years ago, and it left a hole in Sik’s family that will never be filled. But what I really liked about Sik is that he is just an ordinary boy, who finds himself in the middle of something that can not be easily explained. So many times with these mythology retellings the main characters are demigods and have hidden abilities that suddenly manifest when they need them. Not Sik, he is just a human, albeit one that ends up being immortal, but that was an accident. Still he has a lot of compassion and heart, that you can’t help but like him.
Belet is another human, but she was raised by Ishtar, the Goddess of Love and War, so you know she has some skills, especially in the fighting department. Did you know that ballet is a martial art? Neither did I, but Belet certainly does and is awesome at it. I really liked her even though she is a bit of a grump most of the time, and is easily annoyed by Sik, and his lack of fighting skills. Sik and Belet make a good team, because they support each other and Sik can make Belet see that it is sometimes better to live to fight another day.
I also liked Daoud, although most people will probably find him annoying. And even though he kept disappearing when he probably shouldn’t have, he does have the one thing and the one skill that ends up saving the day.
The villain of the story, was really disgusting. The Plague God, Nergal, was just icky, and so were his minions. And poor New York! This plague, doesn’t just kill you, but makes you into a nasty deformed person.
The plot was great! Lots of action and snarky teenage comments, like you would expect. But I loved the overall themes of grief and family and how important these things are. There was also some scenes of hate and racism towards muslims, that were well handled and important for kids to hear and see. The mythology was also well explained and I never felt like it overshadowed the story.
Another great book for this imprint. I think this is a stand alone, but I certainly would love to see more of Sik and Belet in the future, or even more about the mythology. I don’t think enough people know it and it is one of the oldest mythologies around.